BHA said Off-Site is a Consideration

By Seth Daniel

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) said this week that they are considering splitting up the sites for the One Charlestown development, and they also are excited to speak with the community about their original Request For Proposals (RFP), as they believe there are some major misunderstandings about numbers in that document.

Lydia Agro, chief of staff at the BHA, and Kate Bennett, deputy administrator for Planning and Sustainability at the BHA, said they were concerned about some of the discussion at the One Charlestown IAG meeting on April 27 – where a large part of the discussion centered on going back to the BHA bid documents.

Many have said the RFP from the BHA in the early going asked for 2,100 units – with full replacement of the 1,110 low income public housing units included. The proposal presented by Corcoran last fall, which is now being revised, called for more than 3,000 units.

“There was only a requirement of replacing the existing units one-to-one,” said Bennett. “We didn’t have a bottom line number. The developer could have called for as many units as they wanted as long as they did the one-to-one replacement of the existing units. I think people may be confused by what our RFP said and what Corcoran’s initial proposal said, which was 2,400 units.”

Agro and Bennett said they are willing to visit the IAG and discuss it in more depth, which was requested by the IAG at the April 27 Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) meeting.

“We would absolutely come out and speak to them and the community,” said Agro. “I think its important people understand this and get the numbers right.”

Both also said they have heard loud and clear about the concerns over density, and are looking at the idea of splitting up the development in multiple locations.

“We’ve absolutely heard that people are still concerned about the density,” said Agro. “We are looking at that…That’s still an ongoing process.”

She said by moving some affordable units off-site, they could reduce the overall density so as to make the numbers work for the developer.

Corcoran’s initial 2,400 unit proposal came with the idea of only replacing 960 of the 1,110 public housing units. When the BHA stipulated that all 1,110 units had to be replaced on site, that’s when Corcoran upped the numbers of units over 3,000. The BHA said it is adamant about replacing all units because they have a waiting list of 41,000 people and only about 600 people from the list can be accommodated each year, making every unit necessary.

Another factor in that decision was that many in the community had requested homeownership opportunities – which were accommodated in the bigger number. “We’re optimistic we’ll get to a project that works for the community, is feasible to build and works for our residents,” Agro said.

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