With the green light now in place for the first phase of the Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment, one might expect quick action in taking down the first several buildings nearest the Mystic/Tobin Bridge.
That, however, is not going to be the case.
Officials from Leggat McCall and the Boston Housing Authority said there might seem like a quiet period through most of the rest of the year at the site as they prepare for demolition later in 2021.
“There is some work to be done around the site to prepare for the demolition and removal of our units,” said Lydia Agro of the BHA. “We expect later this year, or by the end of the year, we’ll start the demo. We’ll work to get to that part as quickly as we can. After the demo, we’ll quickly go right into construction…
“It might feel to the community that there is a lull,” she continued. “There is a lot of work that will be happening behind the scenes. There won’t be a lull, but for the community, it might feel it’s quiet for a bit of time. That doesn’t mean nothing is happening to proceed. Plenty will be done in that period to proceed.”
Pam Jonah of the Redevelopment team said that site prep and demolition is scheduled on Phase 1 for the winter of 2021-22, and that the Building F (behind the Kennedy Center School) site will be demolished and prepped first. That will be followed a few months later by the Building M site next to Medford Street. That encompasses a total of 126 public housing units that will be demolished and replaced on site with the new buildings – along with market rate units. There will be a total of 350 units in the two new buildings, with Building M being all public housing units and Building F being a mix of public and market.
She said the site preparation process would take about three months.
That said, a lot of work has already been done in preparation for Phase 1. Geotechnical work was done on site long ago during the design process, and the public housing buildings to be demolished have already been vacated and the families temporarily relocated on-site and off-site.
“Residents have already been relocated so the buildings are vacant and they’ve been boarded up to seal them in preparation for demolition,” said Agro.
Right now, all of the buildings are being abated for dangerous materials, and are being made safe for demolition and for containing the demolition within the small footprint.
A key element that will be coming in the summer and fall will be communication with the residents on other areas of the Bunker Hill Development and the general community regarding a Construction Management Plan.
Many residents still living in the Development have long expressed concern over what would be done to keep them safe while demolition and construction is going on, sometimes just 50 yards away from existing units still occupied.
“Engagement will be ongoing,” said Jonah. There will be more detailed meetings that will take place with abutters over the summer and with the community in the fall as we develop the project’s Construction Management Plan. Communication with Charlestown and Bunker Hill Residents will be ongoing and the development team will also continue to provide the latest information via the Bunker Hill website and monthly e-updates.” She said they encourage everyone to sign up for the e-updates, and she added that the Charlestown Residents Alliance (CRA), the BHA and the relocation firm HOU would continue communication with residents as part of the relocation plans.