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EAST CAMBRIDGE, MA-Three multifamily projects now under way on a barren stretch of industrial land here aim to transform what is considered a wasteland of factories and rail yards into a new neighborhood. The projects, which will put more than 3,000 housing units on the market over the next 20 years, are the results of a 2001 zoning change designed by the city to boost its housing stock and turn the industrial region into residences.

“The plans have been in place for a long time,” Susan Glazer, deputy director of the city’s Community Development office, tells GlobeSt.com. The largest of the projects, known as NorthPoint, is being built by Spaulding & Slye on a 45-acre site near the Lechmere MBTA stop. With 2,700 units in 26 buildings expected to be delivered by 2015, NorthPoint will encompass 5.5 million sf of space and feature 10 acres of green space, including a seven-acre central park. There will also be a new MBTA station and about 2.2 million of commercial space, Spaulding & Slye vice president Mark Garber tells GlobeSt.com.

“It’s going to totally transform that area by creating a neighborhood,” Garber says of the former rail yard site whose location offers stunning views of Boston Harbor and is within walking distance to the TD Banknorth Garden, Kendall Square and Downtown Boston. Nearby transit access provides for longer commutes. The project’s first two buildings, which range in height from eight to 10 stories, are set to be delivered next year and are already 30% sold out, he says.

Adjacent to NorthPoint, Archstone-Smith is constructing a 762-unit apartment community And nearby Leggat McCall Properties is converting the former Haviland Candy factory into 196 condos called One First.

The cost of ownership won’t come cheap for buyers of those condos, however. Units at NorthPoint are estimated to range from the mid-$300,000s to $800,000, while One First price points start at $400,000 for a one-bedroom unit and go up to $1.5 million for three bedrooms.

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