Timing Wasn’t Right for Bunker Hill On Winthrop Square Tower Mitigation

May 25, 2018
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When the Winthrop Square tower got its final approvals at the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) Board meeting last Thursday, May 17, it unlocked millions of dollars in mitigation payments – some of which went to housing developments being redeveloped.

At first glance, many in the Town wondered why it was that Bunker Hill got left out of that payday, while developments in South Boston and East Boston collected millions. It could have been seen as a slight to the One Charlestown development – the largest redevelopment of the largest single housing development in Boston – but City officials said that was certainly not the case.

In fact, the reason Bunker Hill was left out, they said, was because the timing was not right, the other developments were further along, and the other developments did not contain the mixed-income strategy with market-rate units.

Last Thursday, after the BPDA approval, a $163 million mitigation payment became available to the City. Some $28 million went to Boston Common, and another $28 million went to Franklin Park. Also within that package was

$25 million to the Boston Housing Authority’s (BHA) redevelopment efforts at Old Colony in Southie, and $10 million for its efforts at Orient Heights in Eastie.

The Mayor’s Office told the Patriot Bridge that there was no exclusion at all in the doling out of money to BHA redevelopments.

They said at the time of the mitigation agreement, both Old Colony and Orient Heights had already started phases of redevelopment and had plans in place for upcoming phases – only needing funding to unlock those phases. They were apparently ready to begin immediately upon funding.

For One Charlestown/Bunker Hill, it was still in its planning process. Also, One Charlestown and two other BHA developments in other parts of the city are using the mixed-income strategy that includes market rate units. Old Colony and Orient Heights do not contain any market rate units.

BHA Spokesperson Lydia Agro confirmed as much, saying that One Charlestown at Bunker Hill is part of a newer strategy that came after Old Colony and Orient Heights had already begun. She said planning for Old Colony began in 2009, and Orient Heights even before that. Bunker Hill began around 2013.

Both redevelopments reaping rewards from Winthrop Square also were in the midst of construction, she said.

She said the timing for Bunker Hill didn’t match up for this mitigation agreement, but she said the City would be supporting One Charlestown and that they are in discussions now about that.

“For this agreement, it was just not the right timing,” she said. “We are in conversations with the City and the City has substantially contributed to every BHA re-development for the past 35 years. We are in conversations with the City and the City is supportive of Charlestown.”