BCDC Approves Bunker Hill Redevelopment Master Plan

The Bunker Hill Redevelopment team presented an expanded plan for their open space and transportation plans to the Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC) on Tuesday night, and received a unanimous approval for their Master Plan concept.

The project will have to return to the BCDC for design approvals on the first phase buildings – Buildings F and M – which are supposed to kick off this summer if all approvals are in line. The project team and the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) have said they hope to have the First Phase of the Bunker Hill Redevelopment on the BPDA Board agenda this month.

A quick takeaway from Tuesday’s meeting is that trees are important to more than just a few people in Charlestown, as several BCDC members encouraged the project team to save as many trees as possible.

“I have been struck by the neighborhood commentary about keeping the existing tree canopy,” said member David Hacin. “I am curious if these plans incorporate any of the existing trees.”

Member Deneen Crosby said she believes it would also be important to keep more existing trees in the project.

“I think it would help this development to feel more grounded in the neighborhood,” she said. “Everything will be new – the street grid and the buildings. I think the existing trees will help alleviate that feeling. I think moving forward thinking through the plantings might affect how you phase the project to get plantings in the ground sooner. When you think about the six to 10 things that guide the open space development, let that be one.”

Added Hacin, “I completely agree with giving the area a sense of direction so it doesn’t feel all new.”

Those comments came in response to a short presentation from Project Manager Megan Pasquina and Landscape Architects John Copley and Shauna Gillies-Smith about the refined concept for the park system and pocket parks within the development. A brief transportation report was also given by the project’s consultant.

In all, the BCDC members praised the project’s refined Master Plan and open space concepts.

Copley and Gillies-Smith explained they have given the major open spaces special designations and modes.

Monument Park would be ‘Connect,’ as it uses a Monument “shadow” to connect people to the history of the area and tell stories within the park that are not the typical Bunker Hill stories. A new park on Medford Street would be the ‘Explore’ concept and would inspire kids to play using natural science and environmental science.

On Walford Way, the park would be focused on ‘Gather,’ and would be for community outdoor gatherings – such as concerts, plays or outdoor meetings. The final piece would be ‘Play’ on Tufts Street and would be a one-acre destination playground space aiming to attract kids from the entire Charlestown neighborhood. The playground park is roughly the same size as the new Martin Richard Park in the Seaport.

Those new parks would be bolstered by what is called Festival Street – a middle roadway that is more of a shared space than a road for cars. In the new plan, it has been extended to Monument Street and serves as a connector for all four new park spaces.

Member Linda Easterly said the massing of the buildings stepping down to the parks has become much better defined and refined.

“The way the tall buildings step down to the parks is a good change,” she said. “I think that has become a really beautiful composition.”

“This project has been a long road and come a long way,” said Member Andrea Leers. “I think it’s been thoughtfully considered at every level.”

The BCDC approved the Master Plan and Open Space concepts by an 8-0 vote, with the caveat that the project team will return to go over the designs of the first two buildings in Phase 1.

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