Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Forget duplexes and redevelop the strip malls: Proposals from Boston
As readers of this blog know, I am dubious that trying to upzone single-family districts will have much luck in actually producing much housing any time soon. And by "any time soon" I mean, like, in the next decade or two. I much prefer the idea of retrofitting strip malls that provides just as much potential to address equity concerns, is economically viable for developers, and could be much more easily serviced by infrastructure than random duplexes or triplexes. A new report from the Boston Metropolitan Area Council adds some staggering statistics to support this approach.
According to the report, "If the top 10 percent of sites in each [Boston area] municipality were retrofitted to new mixed uses – an average of fewer than four sites per community – it could create 125,000 housing units," which is enough to close the housing shortage of what Boston needs to produce by 2030 (according to the report) to stabilize the market.
The excellent report is here: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/cb9bec551f9d48599f267f4ff6282906
I really hope this idea takes off and we stop putting all our effort into duplexes. Retrofitting retail is where it's at for so many reasons this report lays out so well.