Suffolk University is proposing a “stopgap” solution to its need for student dorms: Leasing a 180-unit apartment building to house up to 350 students in Brighton, a 20- to 25-minute MBTA ride from its downtown Boston campus.
Suffolk filed plans with the city to lease the privately owned residential building at 1047 Commonwealth Ave. as a dorm. Boston University is in its second and final year of leasing the property to house its students while renovating its Myles Standish Hall and Annex student residences.
Suffolk’s proposal is a “short-term, stopgap measure to address pent-up demand” for undergraduate housing as Suffolk works on a new long-range plan that will address student housing needs, according to John Nucci, the university’s senior vice president of external affairs.
“As with our other housing, this would be managed by and supervised by the university,” Nucci said. “Supervised housing is not only better for the students, but ... the city as a whole. It ... frees up housing for families and other residents.”
A proposed change to Suffolk’s institutional master plan, filed with the Boston Planning & Development Agency yesterday, indicates Suffolk is eyeing a two-year lease of the Brighton building from August 2018 to June 2020, with one two-year renewal option.
“It’s currently used for student housing, so there’s no change in use,” Nucci said. “There’s no increase in beds. There is no increased impact on the neighborhood.”
Suffolk houses just more than 1,200 students — about 24 percent of its nearly 5,000 undergraduates — in four dorms on Beacon Hill and in Downtown Crossing and the Theatre District.
“Where our campus is located is becoming pretty well-developed by this point,” Nucci said of the decision to lease in Brighton.
“There aren’t many opportunities,” he said. “What’s important is not the distance from the campus, what’s important is the time it takes to commute, and this is a 20- to 25-minute commute.”
Suffolk’s future student housing likely will be more transit line oriented than “downtown-centric,” he said.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh has been pushing for more university- and college-owned dorms to relieve housing pressures on residents. In its 2008-2018 master plan filed with the city, Suffolk’s goal was having housing for about 50 percent of its undergrads.
Cambridge’s Urban Spaces LLC and New Jersey’s Michaels Development Co. originally built 1047 Commonwealth Ave. with the intent of renting its apartments rather than leasing it as a dorm.
The city reportedly had assurances that it would return to regular apartments once BU’s Myles Standish renovations were done. Urban Spaces referred questions to Michaels, which did not respond....Read more