Case Study

Bartlett Station in Boston’s Roxbury Neighborhood

6 min read

Boston TODs Stick Close to Transit Lines 

From the evidence of the Boston area, one good way to get a transit-oriented development (TOD) done is to site a housing project either directly adjacent to a transit line or on unused transit property itself. This month Tax Credit Advisor is featuring the third in a series of these Boston TODs, an ambitious development called Bartlett Station, going up on an old bus yard in the city’s Roxbury section.

Construction started recently on a 60-unit building, which will join two other buildings completed on the site with more development planned to follow. This will bring the unit count at the development to 136, with a plan for a total of 380 units of housing and mixed-use commercial.

The site itself, called Bartlett Yard and unused for many years, was a brownfield site that required significant remediation before it was suitable for housing or commercial uses. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $1 million to developer Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp. for the cleanup and has since touted it as a green success story.

According to EPA, “The eight‐acre site was formerly used by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) to maintain buses and trains, which resulted in poor air quality and other environmental issues for the community. The maintenance buildings at the site contained asbestos and lead paint, and soils were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, petroleum and heavy metals.

“The presence of this and other brownfields resulted in high asthma rates and other public health issues in this densely populated, largely minority neighborhood, and brought environmental justice concerns to the forefront,” the agency concluded.

In June 2018, Nuestra Comunidad and its Bartlett Station project partners won the Environmental‐Energy Merit Award for Leadership by a Non‐Profit Organization for the project from the Environmental Business Council of New England, EPA notes.

MassHousing in the Mix
MassHousing has helped finance all three of these Boston metro TODs—this one, The Loop at Mattapan Station (TCA February 2021) and A.O. Flats in Jamaica Plain (TCA March 2021). MassHousing executive director Chrystal Kornegay calls the project “transformative” for Roxbury’s Nubian Square area (formerly known as Dudley Square) and lauded the TOD aspect of it.

“As a TOD near a major public transportation hub it will offer its residents many options to commute to work or to just travel around the city,” she said.

MassHousing notes the whole five-phase project will have “approximately 380 new homes for working families, including 166 homes for purchase, 214 apartments and 30,000 square feet of commercial space. The development is anticipated to generate approximately 100 retail jobs and 900 construction jobs, with 60 percent of the jobs going to workers of color.”

Low Income Housing Tax Credits were part of the financing mix, with the investor being RBC Community Investments. State and federal tax credits totaled $14.7 million.

MassHousing contributed a total of $13.2 million to this phase of the project, where total financing comes to more than $35 million. It includes money from its Workforce Housing Initiative, a project to fund 1,000 units of workforce housing in the state. It now has funded substantially more than 1,000 but is continuing with this emphasis.

Other financing came from the State Department of Housing and Community Development ($3.5 million), $1.5 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $3.7 million from the city of Boston (including federal HOME funds), and $600,000 from the Boston Medical Center along with another $600,000 in matching funds.

A wide variety of income levels will be served by the new project, which is called Building A though it is not the first to go up. According to MassHousing, this includes very-low income residents.

“Sixteen will be restricted to households earning up to 30 percent of the area median income, of which eight units will be supported by the federal Section 811 program for disabled individuals, and eight units will be supported by federal Section 8 housing assistance subsidies,” it says.

“Twelve units will be affordable to households earning up to 50 percent of AMI, with four of those units supported through the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program. Twenty-three units will be affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of AMI and nine units will be workforce housing units for households earning up to 80 percent of AMI.”

Building A will contain 12 one-bedroom apartments, 34 two-bedroom apartments, 14 three-bedroom apartments and approximately 10,000 square feet of retail and community space.

Supportive Housing for Section 8
Boston Medical Center will provide supportive housing services to those in the Section 811 units.

“This building delivers on a community vision for affordable and middle-income apartments, jobs for workers of color, Minority Business Employer opportunities and a housing set-aside for artists,” says Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp. Executive Director David Price.  Nuestra Comunidad is also involved with the development of The Loop at Mattapan Station project.

Co-developer on this project is Windale Developers. The architect is Davis Square Architects, the contractor is NEI General Contracting and WinnCompanies is the management agent. Citizens Bank is providing construction financing.

When the project (then called Bartlett Square) was announced on a website in 2015, the developers called it “an innovative urban mixed-used

development that will enhance the historic Fort Hill neighborhood, bridging Roxbury’s bustling Dudley Square (now Nubian Square) and the adjoining Fort Hill and Tommy’s Rock neighborhoods.”

They said the development “will be a vibrant creative district featuring a public events plaza, public market, shops and interactive arts. Housing will satisfy the growing need for market-rate rental and homeownership housing, as well as homes designed for moderate-income families to afford.”

The developers also touted its energy sustainability and green technology and its emphasis on public art.

Of the other two Massachusetts projects in the TCA series in recent months, both have close proximity to transit lines.

The Loop at Mattapan Station has both a Boston trolley line and a bus line immediately adjacent. In fact, the 135 units of affordable and workforce housing are being built on the parking lot of the MBTA Red Line trolley in Mattapan, a Boston suburb.

And A.O. Flats, in Jamacia Plain, is adjacent to the Forest Hills station on the MBTA Orange Line.

When Bartlett Station broke ground in 2017, the developers thanked a very wide array of lenders, partners and investors, about 20 in all. They included:

  • Local Initiatives Support Corp.;
  • Bank of America N. A.;
  • The Federal Home Loan Bank;
  • Eastern Bank;
  • Mass. Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund;
  • Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development;
  • MassHousing Affordable Housing Trust Fund;
  • Mass. Department of Transportation and the MBTA;
  • Mass. Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development;
  • City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development;
  • Boston Planning & Development Agency;
  • Environmental Protection Agency;
  • MassDevelopment Brownfields Program;
  • NeighborWorks Capital;
  • Boston Community Capital;
  • Enterprise Community Partners;
  • Mass. Community Economic Development Assistance Corp.;
  • National Equity Fund;
  • Hyams Foundation; and
  • USGBC – Affordable Green Neighborhoods Program.

Story Contacts:
Chrystal Kornegay, Executive Director, MassHousing, Boston,
Thomas Farmer, Communications Specialist, MassHousing, Boston,

Mark Fogarty has covered housing and mortgages for more than 30 years. A former editor at National Mortgage News, he has written extensively about tax credits.