Boston’s population and economy are growing, so it makes sense that construction in the Hub is booming as well. The only problem? Many, if not most, of the new towers and skyscrapers rising overnight are home to expensive condos and apartments, homes that the average Bostonian could never imagine being able to afford. As we celebrate Boston’s unparalleled success, we must also ask what kind of a city do we want to create? As Boston looks to maintain its identity as the home of innovation, a sought after destination for companies like GE, it also needs to remain affordable to the very people responsible for making Boston such a desirable destination.
Earlier this year, as part of Imagine Boston 2030, Boston’s first citywide plan in over 50 years, the City of Boston released Guiding Growth: Towards an Inclusive City, which detailed how Boston should guide positive physical change over the next 15 years. For Mayor Walsh, middle income workforce housing is a top priority. Of the 53,000 unit housing production goal delineated in the Guiding Growth report, 20,000 of those units are slotted to be middle-income workforce housing. 11,000 of these are to be “market-produced”, meaning relying on no direct city or state financial assistance. To help those units come to fruition, Boston needs developers willing and able to build iconic buildings that do more than reinforce the ‘luxury only zone’ that is taking shape downtown.
Winthrop Square represents a unique opportunity to continue this vision. In the heart of downtown Boston, where history and legacy meet innovation and fresh ideas, Trinity Financial’s development team is proposing to develop a tower that will gracefully and elegantly integrate into the surrounding neighborhood and be a distinctive addition to the Boston skyline. Even more importantly, this site presents a tremendous opportunity to make a substantial addition to economic diversity in downtown Boston. With 40 percent of the residential units affordable to middle-income households, Trinity’s proposal will create 258 units of housing affordable to households with incomes up to 120 percent of the area median income. This means housing created specifically for the middle income workforce (defined as households making between $55K and $130K annually) featured so prominently in the Mayor’s plan. This represents 32 percent of the Mayor’s goal of producing 800 unsubsidized middle-income workforce units per year and more than 3 times the amount required by the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Policy.
Building Boston for sustained growth and success necessitates long-term planning. If we want to uphold Boston’s reputation as a diverse, inclusive and innovative city, we need to be ready to commit to creative solutions to get there. Promoting economic growth and housing for the middle class are values that we all share, and the Trinity Financial proposal for Winthrop Square will go a long way toward creating a lasting legacy of a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable Boston for years to come.