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Northeastern’s plan for 23-
story residence hall on Columbus Avenue
approved by Boston board

Architectural rendering of a new 23 story dorm building on Columbus Ave.
A rendering of the residence hall to be built at 840 Columbus Ave. Source: Elkus Manfredi Architects

The Boston Planning and Development Agency on Thursday approved plans for Northeastern University to build a 23-story residence hall on Columbus Avenue. The project will provide housing for up to 1,300 Northeastern students.

“Northeastern is thrilled to receive approval for our long proposed project at 840 Columbus Avenue,” said John Tobin, vice president for City and Community Engagement at Northeastern. “With a focus on community engagement and student housing, this building will fulfill Northeastern’s promise to reduce the impact of student housing on nearby neighborhoods.”

The approximately 445,200-square-foot residence hall will replace a parking lot at 840 Columbus Ave., property that Northeastern has owned since 1997. 

The ground floor of the building will include approximately 11,000 square feet of community space as well as a 4,000 square-foot retail space. The community space will host economic development programs and initiatives to address critical needs and areas of interest in the community, including educational access, jobs and workforce development, small business support, and building capacity for existing community organizations that address economic development. 

A rendering of the new 23-story dorm on Columbus Ave.
Rendering via Elkus Manfredi Architects

The second floor of the building features student amenity space, including a social lounge, fitness center, study area, staff offices and a laundry room. 

The upper floors comprise approximately 411,100 square feet and include up to 1,300 beds in four-bedroom units with private accommodations along with some efficiency units. 

The plans also feature streetscape improvements, including a dedicated bikeway, outdoor seating, and the preservation of existing — and introduction of new — street trees along all street areas.

The approved project demonstrates Northeastern’s commitment to the city of Boston and neighbors in Roxbury and surrounding areas to build more on-campus housing for students. It is also aligned with the university’s obligations outlined in its 2013 Institutional Master Plan.

The new building will meet the last 175 beds to fulfill the 2013 IMP commitment to add 1,000 new student beds on campus.

“Through extensive listening to our neighbors and city officials, we have refined our plans over the past four years, ensuring they are responsive to community needs and aspirations,” Tobin added. “We are tremendously grateful for their partnership and support.”

The residence hall will be built in partnership with American Campus Communities, the developers of Lightview at 744 Columbus Ave. This partnership means that the building will contribute to the city’s tax rolls, providing millions of dollars in tax revenue to the city each year.

Rendering via Elkus Manfredi Architects

In addition, Northeastern will contribute $1 million to the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development to be used to advance housing stabilization and wealth creation in the immediately adjacent neighborhoods of the project.

“Supporting housing stabilization along with increasing student beds on campus expands how the university can address housing opportunities in Boston neighborhoods,” said Kathy Spiegelman, vice president and chief of Planning, Real Estate and Facilities at Northeastern. “In consultation with our community partners we have identified this and the ground floor economic development programs at 840 as ways for campus growth to share benefits with neighbors.”

Josie Mitchell, treasurer of St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church on Tremont Street, said that she is happy with Northeastern’s plans, hoping it will attract a new generation of churchgoers, helpers for community projects, and more.

“We thought it would be a very good thing to have the students next door because they could be helpful to us and we could be helpful to them, spiritually,” Mitchell said.

“Northeastern has been a very good neighbor to the church,” Mitchell continued. ”Whatever we can do to help young people, we want to do.”