Development on the South Shore is a big deal, but finding out what's going on isn't always easy.
The Patriot Ledger is making a concerted effort to focus on what's happening now in your community, such as a proposed 300-unit Chapter 40B project in Marshfield, and what's on the horizon as state and federal regulations begin to force communities to think more about development.
Much of our in-depth reporting on the developments that will shape what your town looks like in 10, 20 or 30 years is premium content for subscribers, like our dive into the state's new MBTA zoning rules, which mandate multi-family housing near transit stations or how a new law could force neighbors to spend $50,000 to oppose new developments.
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Here are some recent examples of local coverage of growth and development on the South Shore, which is made possible in part with your subscription.
Quincy billionaire Rob Hale, owner of FoxRock Properties, draws praise from city officials and ire from residents who don't want his developments near their neighborhoods. Five years ago the company turned from developing commercial spaces to building residential units, starting with Ashlar Park on the former Quincy Medical Center property.
We have updates on Ashlar Park, the Center and Stone development at the former Citizens Bank building and Masonic Temple in Quincy Center, SwitchPoint Quincy and at the long-vacant former Ross Lot site downtown.
Interest rates are up, so is inflation, and the pandemic has changed how we work.
As part of the South of Boston Summit, industry leaders and others talked about trends they're seeing on the South Shore, and in Boston, as labs begin to take over former office spaces, commercial real estate demand is up and local developers are competing with large investment firms in smaller markets they used to ignore, like Quincy.
Hanover Crossing is well on its way to completion, with both its residential units, a movie theater and amusement center, while Market Basket has already opened.
Kingston Collection is replacing the closed Sears wing of the shopping mall with a 282-unit apartment complex and in Quincy, Break Rock Brewing just opened its 4,000-square-foot taproom.
The state wants to mandate that cities and towns allow more multi-family zoning by right, so developers or would-be homebuilders don't have to get a special permit from their town.
Legislators especially want more multi-family housing near transit centers, including bus, train, ferry and trolley stops. For some, like Quincy and Weymouth, the requirements are probably already met.
For other towns like Milton, Marshfield and Cohasset, where single-family housing is the norm, it could mean a fight with the state or bracing for big changes in what the towns look like.
One of the biggest changes on the South Shore and in Massachusetts to new development or redevelopment is the requirement that any changes to zoning require a 2/3 vote to pass.
The legislature took aim at this requirement, at the same time it required cities and towns to allow more by-right multi-family housing near transit stations, by reducing the threshold to a simple majority for many changes that would increase housing density.
The legislature also took aim at neighbors who block developments by tying them up in court for years. Now, developers can ask a judge to force anyone who wants to sue them to block a development to put up a $50,000 bond. If they lose, they lose the bond.
"I think the $50,000 (bond) is earth shattering for people who don't want to live next to a 40B project," Norwell's town counsel Bob Galvin said during a meeting.
Experts predict 2022's housing market will look a lot like last year — low supply, rising prices and without the 'chaos'
Experts say they don't think the current housing crunch, with increased demand and rising prices, will come to an end anytime soon.
Rising inflation and mortgage rates will likely slow the rapid increase in prices (Cohasset saw the South Shore's highest percentage increase in median sales price from 2019 to 2021: 42%, increasing from $950,000 to $1.35 million) and put a damper on demand, but only for those at the low end of the market as big spenders will not feel the impacts of rising fuel and food prices as keenly.
So how did Massachusetts and the South Shore get into such a bind with skyrocketing housing costs?
The pandemic helped, driving demand for homes at the same time that homeowners took their houses off the market, creating artificially low supply. So did record low interest rates, which have since sharply risen to a 10-year high not seen since November 2018, nearing 5%.
But experts say when you pull back the curtain, it's none of those things because housing demand has outstripped supply for decades. On the South Shore, the lack of supply is even more pronounced as urban flight from Boston in the 1960s through 1980s spurred politicians to oppose new development, and new housing growth plummeted in the 1990s.
How were towns able to block new development? By changing the zoning rules that the state has now made easier to amend, so long as it's for denser housing.
When Plymouth County officials asked developers to bring their plans on what to do with a 110-acre wooded lot in Plymouth, one company came back with a proposal — a thoroughbred horse racetrack.
Town officials are supportive, but neighbors say they don't want a racetrack, or perhaps more importantly, any more housing to come into state's geographically largest municipality, saying development on the artificial forest would hurt the environment.
The developer is going to take a few years to see if a racetrack is viable. It would require a 2/3 majority vote at town meeting to change the zoning rules, which has many residents questioning the developer's odds.
The debate over housing often lands in court, like the case of a potential 40-house subdivision on the Duxbury-Marshfield line, where Duxbury filed a lawsuit against the developer 11 days after the developer asked for a change to its permit, which the town alleges violates a 2012 settlement agreement.
A hearing on a motion to dismiss is set for May 12.
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Reach reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Market Basket, Kingston Collection, other developments on South Shore