Bunker Hill Development Meetings Get Online Re-Start

The massive Bunker Hill Development mixed-income rehabilitation will begin City-sponsored review meetings with the community online this month, with the first meeting taking place on Sept. 9.

Adelaide Grady, executive director of Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment for Leggatt McCall, said they are ready to re-engage the community on the proposal, which was just finally ready for reviews in April before being postponed due to COVID-19.

“We’re going to be re-presenting the proposal based on the alternatives explored with the BPDA (Boston Planning and Development Agency) during COVID-19 related to open space and opportunities,” said Grady. “We want to start to re-connect and re-engage with people…We felt like having this first public meeting would be a good way to have a forum to catch everyone up and re-engage everyone on it.”

The development team hasn’t made any huge changes to the bones of the project proposal. It still includes the phased demolition of the existing approximately 1,110 public housing units and the construction of 2,699 mixed-income housing units, approximately 73,000 square feet of retail and civic space, new public open space, new on and off-street vehicle parking accommodations, and public realm improvements.

The first phase will include just two buildings near the Kennedy Center. Future meetings after Sept. 9 – which haven’t yet been scheduled – will focus more on the details of the first two buildings in Phase 1 and the overall design.

The Bunker Hill Development has featured more starts and stops than City Square traffic pre-COVID. It was proposed several years ago with more units, then rejected by the community and taken off the table. After reformulating the partnerships on the project, it came back in 2019 with a new proposal, but got stalled out in the summer and fall of 2019, only coming back to the community in the late fall to present new design ideas. The developers – a partnership with Leggatt and Corcoran Companies – then filed their Article 80 paperwork with the City and were ready to start review meetings in late March and April. That was all foiled by COVID-19 lockdowns at the last minute, and brought them to this point where an online meeting will have to do.

One important piece of information is that the developers and the BPDA haven’t put things on hold during COVID. Grady said they met two and four times a week online with the Agency, the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and the Charlestown Residents Alliance (CRA) to fine-tune the project and talk over new ideas that will now be presented to the community as possibilities. Nothing, however, has been decided in those meetings.

She said they had hoped when they cancelled meetings to be back out to the public in May or June, but that wasn’t possible.

“We were able to keep meeting with the BPDA on a somewhat regular basis to talk through the proposal – the ins and outs,” she said. “It is a big project, an 1,100 page DPIR submission…We continued to meet with them through April and May and through the summer. We’ve just been waiting now to get the public process re-started and that re-start is coming this September.”

She said the Zoom online meetings have been successful for the BPDA elsewhere, particularly at Suffolk Downs where Councilor Lydia Edwards has been prominent in helping facilitate them – as she will be in Charlestown.

The meeting on Sept. 9 will start at 6 p.m. online, but it will be recorded and posted as well.

Attendees must pre-register and then get the link to the meeting. One can also call into the meeting by phone. For any questions on that process, e-mail Raul Duverge at the BPDA ([email protected]) or call him at (617) 918-4492.

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