Harbor Point

Boston, Massachusetts

Harbor Point is the redevelopment of a 1950s public housing project into a racially and economically diverse community overlooking Boston Harbor. The redevelopment transformed Columbia Point, a dangerous and deteriorated 1,504-unit public housing project serving mainly low-income minorities, into a fully renovated 1,283-unit mixed-income community with new amenities and integrated social services. The 50-acre community, now safe and attractive, was completed in 1991.

Harbor Point Boston aerial
An aerial of Harbor Point. Source: Goody Clancy.

In order to attract and support a mixed-income community, the redevelopment incorporated significant physical changes as well as a variety of social support services. The developers worked with existing tenants to ensure they had a voice in the design and planning process and an ongoing management role. The $201 million development is organized around the water and includes a three-block-long landscaped mall with a health center and youth center leading to a bay-front park. Street grids were reoriented to reveal waterfront views, and the number of units was scaled back to increase unit size and quality. Existing structures were remodeled and new buildings designed to offer a diversity of unit types, building scales, and materials. Subsidized units blend in seamlessly, undistinguishable from market-rate apartments, for a shared sense of community.

Top photo: One of the mixed-income residences in Harbor Point. Source: Goody Clancy.

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