Boarded-up windows usually mean blight or neglect, but in the case of the Bunker Hill Housing Development, several boarded-up public housing buildings means the first movement towards the beginning of the long-discussed Bunker Hill Redevelopment project.
The first floors of six public housing buildings slated for demolition in Phase 1 have been boarded up or are in the process of being boarded up this week. Meanwhile, more than 100 families have been relocated within the development or off-site as they await a return following the 24-month construction process for the first two buildings.
“It absolutely does mean we are moving ahead and it is a milestone and it’s very exciting,” said Lydia Agro, of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). “It means we’re moving and preparing and we’ve moved the households and are working with the developer and the CRA (Charlestown Residents Alliance) to start construction as soon as possible.”
Agro said more than 100 households have been relocated on-site or off-site to prepare the buildings for demolition within Phase 1 – which will start behind and beside the Kennedy Center in Hays Square. Agro said it is common during a BHA redevelopment to board up the first floor windows for security after residents have vacated the premises.
Already, the BHA has recently relocated 99 households and are working with six additional households that need to be relocated before anything starts. Of those 99, some 55 were relocated on-site in the Charlestown development, while 44 were relocated off-site to other BHA properties.
Agro said it was important to note that of the 44 that are off-site, some chose to move off-site by choice or the BHA was unable to provide them with a unit that had the necessary bedroom sizes to accommodate their families.
A handful of families were also relocated earlier in the process due to a fire in the development, and also some building code issues.
Adding them all up, that makes 117 families that have been relocated for various reasons, both on-site and off-site.
All 117 families will be eligible to return if they wish when the new buildings are completed as part of Phase 1A and 1B.