A letter of intent from Bunker Hill GP Ventures, a partnership between Corcorran Jennison Associates and SunCal, was filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority Tuesday. They will redevelop the 1940’s-era Bunker Hill Houses in Charlestown, with it’s over 27 acres of land. The existing 1100 low income residences will be replaced and at least 2,100 market-rate and workforce units will constructed.
According to the LOI the development will include two new parks and retail space, in addition to the housing. A Boston Housing Authority press release says that residents will be moved to other BHA properties or get vouchers during the construction, but will have the right to return.
The BHA, along with other public housing agencies with very old stock, has been looking to public private partnerships because the federal government has continuously cut funding for affordable housing. This is also constraining the value and supply of housing vouchers.
The project website states that they want to knit the urban fabric back together, rebuild the units to blend in architecturally with the neighborhood and create active streetscapes, which is easier said than done. More specifically, the developers want to put front doors on the street and make the affordable units indistinguishable from the market-rate units.
All the buildings will at least be six stories, with the ones near the Tobin Bridge and one on Bunker Hill Square, the open green space in the center of the map, could be over 10 stories.
Distressingly and disturbingly all the buildings will have structured parking beneath them. Not only will this vastly increase costs, but it will encourage automobile use, causing greater traffic and congestion in an already congested neighborhood. Instead of building a load of parking, the developers should woerk with the MBTA and City on improving bus service in Charlestown, since it’s underserved, or opperate a shuttle service from the apartments to Community College Station or North Station.