‘Neponset Wharf’ proposal for Dorchester’s Port Norfolk advances

New Developments News Dorchester
A rendering of the proposed development at 24 Ericsson St. in Dorchester.
A rendering of the proposed development at 24 Ericsson St. in Dorchester. BPDA

Plans for a four-building, coastal complex boasting 120 residential units, retail and office space, and more than 2 acres of open space along the waterfront at Dorchester’s Port Norfolk has secured approval from the city’s planning leaders.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the proposal for 24 Ericsson St. — dubbed, “Neponset Wharf” — on Jan. 13, ending a nearly five-year review process before the city.

The project was put forth by RISE Together, a Boston-based firm owned by people of color that is also a driving force behind pending proposals to bring a 16-story residential tower to Allston and a redesigned Sullivan Square to Charlestown.

Speaking to BPDA officials earlier this month, a representative for RISE Together described the project as a climate-resilient, “truly mixed-use development” that will include an extension of the publicly accessible Harborwalk and a renovated marina.

Greenery along the pathway will include a restored salt marsh to bring in a taste of the area’s natural shoreline.

The property has been fenced-off for several years.

“We’re really proud to bring this back to life,” said Kevin Deabler of RODE Architects. “It’s been a working wharf for 150 years, and now the public gets to sort of come into contact with it.”

Developers envision a slate of one- and two-bedroom residential units for the 3.6-acre site, 16 of which would be income restricted. The project also includes a boathouse, approximately 23,400 square feet of office space, about 11,000 square feet of community/flex space, and roughly 3,600 square feet of retail.

In total, the development will create 950 new jobs: an estimated 600 construction jobs and 350 permanent roles, developers said.

Other features include new streets and a Bluebikes station, according to the BPDA.

“The project will fund a one-year pilot program for a shuttle bus to nearby MBTA stations and contribute up to $150,000 toward a neighborhood Slow Streets program, including a transportation study of the local area,” BPDA officials said. The city’s Neighborhood Slow Streets program looks at “lowering speeds and improving street safety on smaller, less-busy residential neighborhood streets in the City.”

The wharf property is particularly prone to the impacts of climate change: Filings with the BPDA state that as sea levels rise, “Port Norfolk will become increasingly exposed to both regular tidal flooding and considerable fringe flooding during coastal storms.”

In their attempts to mitigate the area’s flooding potential, developers have pledged $100,000 to help create flood-resilient features for Port Norfolk as outlined in the city’s “Climate Ready Dorchester” report.

Roadway and site grading upgrades will bring the new development “above future flood elevations,” while “Passive House” building standards will help reduce the project’s carbon footprint, according to the developers.

The complex will also include rooftop solar panels, and 25 percent of the new 159 parking spaces will feature electric vehicle charging stations, the plans indicate.

“I think there’s so many great things to appreciate about this project,” Carol Downs, treasurer of the BPDA Board of Directors, said at the group’s meeting earlier this month. “I love the public spaces and the design anticipating climate change and ocean level rise.”

The project will require approval from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeal and from state officials that govern waterfront development before developers are able to break ground.

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