Hey, there! Log in / Register

Housing projects in Roxbury, Charlestown slated for overhauls

Proposed new Whittier building in Roxbury

Architect's rendering of proposed Whittier building.

Developers have filed plans with the BRA to completely tear down the 62-year-old Whittier Street project and replace it over five years with new buildings with more apartments.

Separately, the Boston Housing Authority this week formally asked developers for plans to turn the Bunker Hill project into a mixed-income development.

In a filing with the BRA this week, Preservation of Affordable Housing and the Madison Park Development Corp. detailed a proposal to replace the 200-apartment Whittier Street development, located along Tremont Street between Whitter and Ruggles, with five new buildings housing 387 apartments. One of the buildings would be 15 stories and would also have retail space.

The developers discuss why they basically want to start from scratch on the property:

The existing Whittier Street development is currently one of the oldest and most underutilized sites in the Boston Housing Authority’s federal portfolio. Although currently home to hundreds of residents and employees, and located along important Boston Public Streets, the Project Site lacks urban vitality. The existing buildings are repetitive, uniform, and deteriorated, with aged systems. Residents are isolated in a large block that lacks connection to neighborhood and community resources. The buildings are internally oriented with minimal open space that is underutilized and disconnected. The current buildings do not engage the street in a positive way for pedestrians. The notable lack of activity and divided open space compromises the pedestrians experience significantly.

Some of the apartments would be townhouses and some would have four bedrooms.

Whittier Choice project notification form (64M PDF).

In Charlestown, the BHA is hoping developers who want to build in the hot Charlestown market will want to put market-rate units in an area that they will help rebuild to make better for the existing low-income residents - at little or no cost to the authority or the city:

The BHA has selected Bunker Hill as one of the initial candidates for which to issue an RFP due to current market conditions and the potential opportunity for the preservation or replacement of all of the existing 1100 very low income units in the development with little or no public subsidy. The potential for adding additional units to create a mixed income development would add both affordable workforce and market rate apartments, which BHA hopes would generate additional income to help sustain the low income units over the long term.

Neighborhoods: 
Free tagging: 

Ad:

Comments

I always wondered how long it would take before someone decided to throw all of the poor people out of the BH projects in favor of "mixed income".

Mixed income, my fucking ass. Yet another giveaway to more friends of that idiot who dares to call himself a Mayor..

affordable workforce and market rate apartments

Which affordable workforce? The workforce at 245 Summer Street or One Hundred Federal?

up
Voting closed 0

I will give you the benefit of the doubt as a forward thinking individual simply looking out for the public interest.

Do you favor the status quo? If not, what do you suggest?

Then, show me where you would find the money...

:)

up
Voting closed 0

Show me a place where highly concentrating poverty has worked out. It hasn't. Mixed income is good for everyone involved.

up
Voting closed 0

Tell me how Miss Crossfit Finance Lady will like living next door to that Latino poor family? And tell me why Bunker Hill and not Bromley-Heath? Why did they find the government money for Orient Heights and not for Bunker Hill?

up
Voting closed 0

Are you seriously asking why HUD's only giving us money for one development? Like HUD is somehow awash in cash now? After decades of decimation by congress?

up
Voting closed 0

HUD doesn't give money for state funded developments. It comes from DHCD and it doesn't come often. They cut capital funds several years back, so state developments that do get funding only get it when there is a dire need to keep them from falling over. Or down a hill as in the case of Orient Heights.

Bromley Heath was partially redeveloped in several phases under TMC. It wasn't all-out tear down and rebuild like with Hope VI, but it did add some new buildings, including the beautiful new daycare center that opened up last year.

up
Voting closed 0

I'm all for mixed-income housing. I don't live in a mixed income development, but I live across the street from Bromley Heath and basically next door to Academy Homes in Roxbury. And yes, I work in finance (I don't do Crossfit, but the stereotype is apt enough). I don't see any reason why it's a bad thing to have people of different backgrounds and income levels all living in the same area. Why Bunker Hill? Why not? If it improves the facilities as well as the neighborhood for low-income families and adds more housing for all, it's an improvement. Saying it's a desirable area, so let's add more housing and make improvements for the low income families already living there isn't a bad thing. I don't see this as anyone being pushed out of a home: the truth of the matter is that Boston needs housing at all income levels, and that low income housing projects such as Whittier Street are not the best solution for the city. I travel past there on my way home from work every day and all I think about is what a shame it is that the streetscape is so terrible, the sidewalks are terrible, and there is no access to any food shopping, dining, or retail space in that entire stretch. It's an underutilized area that's begging to be redeveloped. Anything that will bring people outside and get them walking around, eating, shopping, is a huge bonus. This is a net gain for anyone who currently lives in BHA properties, as well as those who don't qualify who are looking for housing of their own.

up
Voting closed 0

"Little or no public subsidy"

up
Voting closed 0

but despite having said developer express interest, the BHA has to follow procurement laws and put out a RFP. No one has approached about the BHA about redeveloping Bromley Heath.

up
Voting closed 0

Well maybe Miss Crossfit Financelady should use her funds and buy a house in the suburbs.Everyone deserves a chance to make a good living in this country. And if that means living in low income while they save money to better themselves, no one has the right to put them down. My mom came to this country 14 years ago, raised me in South Boston projects while she worked her tail off to buy a house. My mom purchased a 3 Decker in Dorchester last October. And this is coming from a finance woman from State st.

up
Voting closed 0

All that is happening is we're taking the concentrated poverty out of what has become desirable locales and allowing it to concentrate somewhere less desirable at the moment. Like Brockton.

up
Voting closed 0

dealer brings in today?

up
Voting closed 0

HUD won't allow the BHA or a developer to take units offline without a 1:1 replacement. That means that either the same number of public housing units gets built or Section 8 certificates (only for tenants in good standing with the BHA) will fill the void.

There are rumors about certain BHA and city higher-ups who may or may not be enjoying apartments at the new mixed-income Old Colony Development. Sure, they may living rent free, but for all I know they could also be paying rent in market rate units over there.

up
Voting closed 0

redlining doesn't exactly help anyone either.

up
Voting closed 0

Explain in more detail. What is your concern, that the 1,000 units of affordable housing won't be replaced? That this is different / same as the Hope VI projects that were created in the 1990s-2000s? That the housing - as-is - is adequate and suitable?

In your response, please provide details on how the Bunker Hill housing project was first created, why, and who it benefited and who suffered, if anyone.

up
Voting closed 0

Unlike you, I actually lived in those projects for eight years. So when someone from the city says there's no money to fix them up and that private funds are needed in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city, what do you think that means?

Unlike Columbia Point, which was in the middle of nowhere and dangerous and Maverick Square, still one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city, the Bunker Hill project becoming a so called mixed income success story is a lot less likely to happen, in my opinion. Tell someone that Harbor Point has nothing in it of any interest and nothing you can walk to and that Maverick Landing still has one of the most dangerous T stations in the system and that you can be on State Street in eight minutes on the Bunker Hill bus and where do you think your upwardly mobile city dweller would rather live?

You know how many people show up at apartment showings for "affordable" apartments in this city right now?

up
Voting closed 0

Dvdoff: are you of the Dvoffs? The Charlestown family that was featured in Common Ground?

I read that book in high school, fantastic. I can't imagine growing up in that hell hole.

up
Voting closed 0

the McGoff's, the family featured in the book.

Another problem I have with this idea is that I watched black kids get beat and chased down the street back then. It's taken a long time for that project to go from being all white poor people to mixed race poor people. Last thing I'd want to see is that project become all white again. If you think I'm crazy, just look at the Navy Yard. A lot of well off mostly white faces over there.

up
Voting closed 0

It has changed since I last visited in the 80s. The developed parts of the Navy Yard are the typical "soak the dumb wealthy" glitz pitz that have become a hallmark of the real estate speculation frenzy.

The Bunker Hill projects are like some vestige of a less callous time before all these money grubbing shitheels began calling shots.

It looks like another Marty Walsh give away to said real estate scum and hahd hats. And the current residents are doomed. They'll probably be exiled to Brockton or something.

It is interesting to see how much the local real estate speculators and their shills comment here.

up
Voting closed 0

They want to rebuild to the existing level of affordable housing stock.

up
Voting closed 0

"affordable".

up
Voting closed 0

There is a very specific definition to the term "affordable" that does not mean "reasonably-priced." Massachusetts has a strong system that produces "affordable housing" for low-income and extremely low income individuals and families. That doesn't mean "affordable" for high income people.

up
Voting closed 0

You sound like a happy person.

up
Voting closed 0

I take offense to what you said, in so many ways. I own a Condo in the Navy Yard, and yes my wife and I make a good living. We chose to buy in the Navy Yard a couple of years ago because it is a beautiful place to live with easy access to the financial district, assigned parking garage spaces, and a safe real estate investment. And by the way: the current market rates are not set by real estate speculation, those days are gone. An analysis of the sales in Charlestown show that the market was almost completely flat between 2008 and 2014, it has recently started to heat up again because of the economy improving. And I am all for getting rid of the riff raff and setting up mixed income housing. Living one block from the projects has always been a concern for me. Our building has been looted, vandals have done damage, and one of my neighbors was robbed at knife point on the street corner below my unit. Was it the "dumb wealthy white faces" living in the glitz pitz that did that? Nope, in every instance the cops said it was probably hoodlums from - you guessed it - our neighbors in the projects.

up
Voting closed 0

I hear you NavyYardDweller. I bought condo in monument square in 2013 for nearly $600,000 and this year saw my 2016 taxes go up to over $7,000 because city over-assessed my unit (so that my hard-earned money can go to support low-income residents).

I would be MORE than THRILLED to see 75% of the low-income housing disappear and I'm hopeful that's where this plan will lead. I am seriously sick of the junkies coming to square to break into cars and hold people up. Charlestown is way overdue for a clean up.

up
Voting closed 0

I'm not there especially often, but when I am there, I've never felt like I was in a dangerous or uncomfortable place. I like the waterfront views, the ethnic restaurants, the Shipyard, and Atlantic Works. Should I be more worried than I am?

up
Voting closed 0

As anyone who has met you knows, you're very non-threatening. And like me, you never look like you have money in your pocket, so who is going to bother you? You're safe!

up
Voting closed 0

It's no more dangerous than anywhere else. That being said there are a few "problem families" which results in occasional gunfire, but compared to many other locales in the city not much to worry about. What we do have in spades in Eastie is a LOT of addicts. Syringes all over the place. ODs in the McDonalds bathroom. Good amount of messy panhandling in Maverick Square (Spare Change Guy would be my idea of neat panhandling).

So along that line I'd say that there is very much a risk of everything dvdoff is talking about to start creeping in over here in Eastie. You might have a 5 minute bus ride from Charlestown to State but we've got a 5 minute T ride to the same location (when the T is running). So same issues. And definitely the push to Manhattanize all the n'hoods of Boston is full court and da May-uh either doesn't get it or doesn't care.

up
Voting closed 0

Every F***ing low-income family is going to be priced out of the city in 20 years at this rate. Can we please make accommodations so a family doesn't need to be making $80,000+ a year in order to afford to live in Boston.

up
Voting closed 0

I am in favor of strong governments and European style socialism, but
the ONLY solution to bring down cost of living in Boston (or anywhere) is to let the free market take control and build and build more units.

Housing development in Boston is hampered by numerous very restrictive zoning laws which severely limit the scope and size of new construction, leading to limited supply and thus high costs.

Boston is ready for taller, denser construction, even at the price of less parking and cries of existing residents (who own).

up
Voting closed 0

There are tons of ways to subsidize housing, but the most effective is the law of supply and demand. Build up, and build high enough that you can include enough garage spots to compensate for the fact that Boston does not have NYC-style mass transit, and prices will come down. New construction especially benefits families who are shut out of the housing market by lead laws.

up
Voting closed 0

Agree with everything but the garage spots. If it's a place with good T access, there should be no parking requirements. Developer should provide as much parking as they feel the market warrants. Minimum parking requirements drive cost UP (parking ain't free, especially in a garage) and cause additional traffic problems for the neighborhood. Boston has great mass transit. Don't believe me? Visit Atlanta.

up
Voting closed 0

Bullshit! The "free market" created the problem of absurdly expensive housing in Boston, why should we let it try to fix it? It's a matter of money and privilege, not supply and demand.

up
Voting closed 0

Dense development, TOD, etc sound good but our public transit system is maxed out during rush hour as is. All these new buildings are going up around Fenway but how are they going to get downtown when you literally cannot fit anyone else on the green line trains in the morning?

up
Voting closed 0

bullshit. The problem is that the market is not building housing for people to live in, raise families in, live their lives in Boston in. They are building investment opportunities. And a large chunk of that is large money from outside the US. The laws of the market are not like the laws of gravity. They are completely manipulated by those who would ensure that they make not only as much as possible but also push out anyone else who might make anything. If you're still believing the Elmer Fudd story of capitalism you need to grow up.

up
Voting closed 0

It doesn't have to be the free market necessarily, but the solution is definitely to build more unit. MANY more units. And while the free market has its problems, housing costs a fair amount of money to build, and there are people offering to do it at no cost to the government (indeed, negative cost since it'll increase the taxable value), why not let them? And remember, the harder you make it to build, the fewer people will be able to do it, and the more likely that being friends with the mayor will let you be one of those lucky few.

up
Voting closed 0

I'm making a good deal less than that and I'm doing just fine. As far as family goes, a two earner household can easily make $80,000, they just need to do that scary thing called work.

up
Voting closed 0

According to this information, the median income in the projects area is between $15,000 and 30,000 (http://www.city-data.com/income/income-Boston-Massachusetts.html).

Have you walked through this area, none of these people are making $80,000. Their neighbors one block away by the monument definitely are with the 1.5 million dollar condos, but Bunker Hill Street is not.

And then add in that many of them have children. So that $30,000 is for more than just 2 people.

up
Voting closed 0

40 hours a week each at minimum wage is almost $40k, so if a family is only earning $15k they're pretty clearly not working full time. That would only be 16 hours a week at minimum wage.

up
Voting closed 0

What? In 2014, 8*40*50 = $16,000

In 2015, 9*40*50 = $18,000

Since income figures are a trailing indicator, your use of 2015's raised minimum wage to compare with historical data is odd.

Why 50 and not 52? Many minimum wage workers are forced by the companies to take days off and don't get paid for those days. That week between Christmas and New Years they shut down the building? No pay. July 4? No pay. Labor Day? No pay. This isn't laziness, it is reality.

You're also forcing the idea of a 2-parent household.

So, a 2-parent household with minimum wage jobs in 2014 was $32,000, not close to $40K , the 25% pay raise you magically round to. And a single parent household was $16,000 , not working just 16 hours/week as you claim (even being misleading since your claim would require each parent to work 16 hours, so a total of 32 hours/week).

up
Voting closed 0

The question about sufficient money to repair the structures reminded me that most governments in the U.S. lack money to do governmental work (e.g,. maintaining, repairing and where necessary increasing) infrastructure. Why? Because we are the frog in pot of cool water where tax revenue is concerned. We get used to a lesser quality of life by slowly removing the funds governments need to maintain just basic services. We whine and complain but assume the status quo of putting off projects and repairs as necessary and inevitable instead of recognizing that the deficiencies in our infrastructure are due at least in part to the politicians ultimate voter bribe of "no new taxes."

Of course there is also that pesky element of the wealthiest not being asked to pay a proportion appropriate to their wealth; a wealth that is dependent on pesky things such as infrastructure.

As for the demolition of this project it's not to be wondered. There is an opportunity to make gobs of money. The post WWII devastation of cities via middle class (and to call a spade a spade, white flight) has reversed. Middle class has money - and has votes. Poor people by definition have little money and by tradition fewer votes. So if there is an opportunity to make development money, but it includes displacing people who are poor, well politics is not about fairness and justice, it's about power, votes and money.

It is the work of the most American of all of America's religions, Capitalism.

up
Voting closed 3

the most American of all of America's religions, Capitalism

Praise be to Supply Side Jesus!

up
Voting closed 0

THIS is why Roxburians hate the phrase "development" because it's NEVER for the people who live in the neighborhoods but for OUTSIDERS--namely FAT CATS! When people don't get off their butts, don't stay informed, protest or the most important of all VOTE, they leave themselves vulnerable to this kind of inner city Imperialism!

up
Voting closed 0