By Richard Heath|Boston Bulletin Staff Reporter| November 19, 2020
The first of what will undoubtedly be a series of Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) Article 80large project review meetings was held virtually on Nov. 5 attended by 61 callers.
Introduced by BPDA project man-ager Dana Whiteside, The Community Builders (TCB) project manager Laura Martin briefly described Phase I as a fives sub phase development to be built over the next 10 to 12 years.
According to Martin the total cost in2020 dollars is $400 million.
Sub phase 1 is two, six-story buildings, designed by Prellwitz-Chillinski Architects, labeled 1A and 1B both built around courtyards with a ground floor community center. These will be built largely on the site of the Anna Mae Cole com-munity center and replace 24-34 Heath St.; the 24 families in that three-story building will be relocated within Mildred Hailey Apts.
When sub phase 1 is completed these families will move into the new buildings. Building 1A will have110 apartments of various sizes with 60 below-grade parking spaces and include a new 6,800-square-foot, glass wall community center at the corner of a tree-lined pedestrian mall connecting the SWC park with a new, ex-tended Lamartine Street that will connect Centre Street with Heath Street. Building 1B will have 124units, with 78 below-grade parking with access from Lamartine Street. Martin said subphase 1will take two to three years to build once financing is in place. She said the total cost including the new street is $145 million.
Funding applications have been submitted to both the city and state.
Buildings 1A and 1B will be built, owned and managed by TCB, but BHA will still be involved. In a statement to the Bulletin on Oct. 29, BHA explained:
“As part of the terms of the lease, BHA sets specific term sand conditions in order to pro-vide Mildred Hailey residents with long -term rights and protections.”
The BHA will apply for and hold the project-based Section 8 vouchers for each of the 91 returning residents.
“The units at Hailey need an upgrade and it was critically important that we reached a solution that preserved this critical housing.”
The concept, Martin said, is Move Once. Once a building is completed, residents will move in and their building demolished for the next sub phase.
Sub phase 2 is a 65-unit, six-story building to be built, owned and managed by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and will replace 265-267 Centre St. next to the Jackson Square station.
Once 1A and 1B are completed, Martin said, those 56families will move into the new buildings and their building demolished for sub phase2 which will also include the extension of Lamartine Street.
This Move Once concept will be repeated in the next four sub phases that will replace 275 -279, 295- 297 Centre St., and 960-964 Parker St. TCB, Urban Edge and JPNDC will each finance, build, own and manage one of these subphases. Each phase, Martin said, will take two to three years to build.
Sub phase 2 next to Jack-son Square station, for ex-ample, should be completed in2026, she said. Phase 1–with all five sub phases- is planned to be completed in 2030-2032.The Partners will finance their buildings through public and private sources; debt service and operations will come from rents of the mixed income community.
Phase I will total 240 units of which 91 will be project based subsidized apartments at no more than 30 percent of in-come. The remaining 140units will be a mix of units between 60 percent to 165 per-cent of median income – or roughly a range from $64,000to $125,000 for a family of four.
Architect Mark Eclipse of Prellwitz-Chilinski Associates described his designs for buildings 1A and 1B as an inclusive design to integrate the buildings into a wider, mixed income community.
“People need to feel like they belong,” he said. “That’s not happening now. They don’t feel welcome in their own community. We want to integrate different incomes.”
Louis Elisa of Seaver Street was also concerned about the face of the community.
“I’m from the Roxbury United Neighbors,” he said. “My interest is in this development. I’m very concerned about the very few Black people involved in the IAG and the development team. Who overlooked that?”
Martin explained that “there’s more diversity than can be seen on the screen.”
“There are eight real estate developers on the team,” she said.
Elisa was unsatisfied. “I said African American,” he said. “Why are there insignificant African Americans on the team? I direct this specifically at Urban Edge and JPNDC.”
Yvette Toney said she lives in the Mt Pleasant neighbor-hood.
“I didn’t know about this meeting,” she said. “I’m part of the Roxbury United neighbors. I want to keep up to date with all development. It’s one thing to show slides but a lot of this the community doesn’t understand.
“Mainly I’m concerned about people who are not heavily melanated on your group,” Toney said. “I’m concerned about BPOC. Black People of Color. But not Blacks who are compromised. Blacks who can pass the test.”
A man identified as George complained that the numbers were too high for the mixed in-come units. He wanted to see more at 50 percent area median income.
“All of this new stuff is gentrification. You’re white-washing this neighborhood,” he said. “Almost half of the building is market rate. It’s a system of racism.”
Four residents who live at Mildred Hailey Apts. called in with concerns.
Shevone Harrington of 923Parker St. summed up what they all said: “when will my building be done?
“My building is ridiculously old,” she said. “It’s in bad shape. Is my building ever going to start or is it stuck the way it is?”
Giovanny Valencia is the senior organizer for JPNDC and has been meeting with Mildred Hailey residents for four years.
“The residents are getting impatient,” he said. “The say ‘doit now, do it faster.’”
Joe Bamberg, director of planning at the BHAl reminded everyone on the call what the purpose was of Mildred Hailey Phase 1.
“I want to very clear,” he said. “BHA is insisting on pub-lic housing being replaced that is truly affordable, deeply affordable, based on actual household income through the Section 8 program,” he said. “The new housing is mix income and will be a resource for the whole community.”