Community meetings for the Bunker Hill Re-development project will begin on March 18 following last month’s official filing of plans with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), and already elected officials in the neighborhood are providing feedback.
The development team released a schedule of open house workshops this week for the community. The workshops will focus on Open Space, Retail, Exterior Design, Construction Impacts, and Transportation. However, each meeting is the same, and will cover all topics, so anyone can choose the option that works best for their schedules.
All meetings will be at Harvard-Kent Elementary School, 50 Bunker Hill St.:
•Wednesday, March 18, 6 – 8 p.m.
•Wednesday, March 25, 6 – 8 p.m.
•Wednesday, April 1, 6 – 8 p.m.
One of the sticking points in the filing for Charlestown’s elected officials, and within the community at previous meetings, has been including an all-low-income building in Phase 1. With a development that was to be mixed-income, that didn’t go over well. Developers have said they need that building to go all-low-income to reduce relocation and costs.
Councilor Lydia Edwards said she was glad to see the process start, but was skeptical of the all-low-income building in Phase 1.
“While I am excited to kick off this process, I want to be sure that it is a robust inclusive process that takes into account the impact on traffic, schools, and prevents displacement of the current residents at Bunker Hill,” she said. “I do not like that any of the buildings will be 100-percent affordable. I firmly believe in mixed-income housing and communities and this is an opportunity to design and have one. So, I hope that it is temporary only to prevent displacement and that tenants may be able to move on campus afterwards.”
State Rep. Dan Ryan said he received the filing late last week, and conceded he had initial questions on density, equity, aesthetics and construction details. However, he also said it is important to re-start a process that has been stalled out in previous attempts.
“I will remain vigilant as I decipher the details,” he said. “But, my philosophy has not changed. For the sake of those living in Bunker Hill, and for our community as a whole, the process needs to move forward. Plans will change over the next decade. The economy will change. Our Federal Housing policy will change. What we cannot do is sit here and remain static hoping answers will fall from the sky. This is why we have a process. I have faith in the people of Charlestown and our ability to move the ball forward while simultaneously making constructive changes in each phase of development.”
•The development team for the Bunker Hill Re-development project sought to clarify this week that the Phase 1 waiver they are seeking in their most recent filing is not for any City process, but rather for the state environmental review (known as MEPA).
“There is no change in the BPDA Article 80 public process for the overall site plan approval, or for the first phase of our project – the first two buildings. We anticipate a full community process and look forward to hearing from the residents of Charlestown,” read a statement from the team.
In the latest filing from Feb. 18, the team asked for a Phase 1 waiver for the project so that they could start “immediately” on the first two buildings within what is believed to be a 10-year, multi-phased approach.
In fact, the full Article 80 review process will transpire as any other project with no waivers of review. The team said the community can expect a full and robust City process led by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). The waiver for environmental review would allow the Phase 1 process to start before the entirety of the project is fully reviewed.
•In another note on a clarification to the Feb. 27 story on Bunker Hill, it was reported there would be 70,000 sq. ft. of retail and a 14,000 sq. ft. community center. In fact, it should be 70,000 sq. ft. of retail and community center space. The 14,000 sq. ft. is included in the 70,000 sq. ft. number.
•Finally, word has been going around the Town that the 14,000 sq. ft. community center within the proposed project could be the new home of the Charlestown YMCA. The development team said it’s way too early to even think about that. Decisions such as that won’t come until later phases of the project.
“We met early on with all of the non-profit service providers in the community and intend to maintain open lines of communication with all as we collaborate as a team with the Charlestown Residents Association (CRA) and BHA to explore options for a future community center to be built in a later phase,” read a statement from the developer.