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Visualizing the rapid development of East Boston

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Rapid development has caused East Boston home values to quadruple over the past two decades, and the neighborhood’s cosmetics have changed drastically in just the past few years.
Rapid development has caused East Boston home values to quadruple over the past two decades, and the neighborhood’s cosmetics have changed drastically in just the past few years. Flickr/Creative Commons

To outsiders, East Boston has long been known as a working-class neighborhood with a high concentration of foreign-born residents, as well as the home of Logan International Airport.

But for residents, Eastie is also a hidden gem, with triple-decker waterfront properties that offer some of the best views of the Boston skyline. It’s where locals can find ethnic cuisine for cheap, from Italian (Santarpio’s!) and Mexican (Angela’s Café!), to Peruvian, Brazilian, and even Vietnamese.

There’s nary a Starbucks in sight – although there are some multilingual Dunkin’ Donuts.

But as a recent article by WBUR pointed out, much of this is in jeopardy. Rapid development has caused East Boston home values to quadruple over the past two decades, and many residents are struggling to keep up with the expense.

This graph shows the increase in median home value in East Boston from 2006 to present. The current median home value is $312,200. —Courtesy of Zillow

One Eastie resident, 23-year-old Keylin Chicas of El Salvador, told WBUR her landlord raised her family’s rent from $1,150 to $1,700 last year. After failing to find an affordable apartment in East Boston, the clan was forced to look to Chelsea and Revere for a new home.

This graph shows the steadily rising average rent in East Boston. The current average rent is $2,331 per month. —Courtesy of Zillow

In some apartment complexes, there’s a growing trend of speculators coming in to buy, renovate, and lease properties for far more in rent than longstanding residents can afford, while other investors are simply demolishing rundown structures to build multimillion dollar luxury complexes.

There are currently about 17 residential projects in the planning or approval stage, under construction, or recently constructed in East Boston, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s map that tracks city development.

The result? East Boston looks very different.

Boston.com took to Google Maps to visit some constructed and soon-to-be developed spots in East Boston to see what they looked like in 2011.

1. 6 New Street

The site of a former confectionary plant will become a $132 million apartment complex with 259 units. Construction began in December 2014.

Rendering of the development:

Construction at New Street is underway. —GLOBE

What New Street looked like in 2011:

A look down New Street in 2011. —Google Maps/Screenshot

2. 50 Lewis Street

The “Portside at East Pier’’ development features 176 luxury apartment units with views of the harbor.

The development under construction:

These apartments have a fully equipped fitness center and are pet-friendly. —GLOBE

What Lewis Street looked like in 2011:

A glimpse down Lewis Street in 2011. —Google Maps/Screenshot

3. 248 Meridian Street

This mixed-use structure will sit on the lot of the vacant Seville Theater. The complex will include 66 residential units and 44 parking spaces.

Rendering of the development:

This complex will have 15,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. —Courtesy of the BRA

What Meridian Street looked like in 2011:

Meridian Street in 2011. —Google Maps/Screenshot

4. 151 Liverpool Street

This residential building will have 24 apartment units, with three of them affordable. The structure will also have up to 35 parking spots.

Rendering of the development:

The building is 38,000 square feet. —Courtesy of the BRA

What Liverpool Street looked like in 2011:

This stretch of Liverpool Street is home to an Eastern Auto Center. —Google Maps/Screenshot

5. 917 Bennington Street

The existing building will be demolished for a five-story building with 42 apartment units and 45 parking spaces.

Rendering of the development:

This building is 49,775 square feet. —Courtesy of the BRA

What Bennington Street looked like in 2011:

The current site of 917 Bennington Street. —Google Maps/Screenshot

Here’s a more in-depth glimpse at what Eastie used to look like: