Team Provides Construction Update on Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project

Team members for the Bunker Hill redevelopment project were on hand for a virtual meeting held Thursday, Oct. 27, to provide a pre-construction update.

The site comprises 27 acres located between Bunker Hill, Decatur, and Polk streets, and the project would include 15 buildings containing 2,699 units, 37 percent of which would be affordable to replace the 1,010 existing public housing units there.

Building F would contain approximately 250 units, and replace the building behind the Kennedy Center, while Building M, containing around 100 units, would replace the three buildings behind the NEW Health Center, which will be demolished this winter, said Addie Grady, executive director of the Bunker Hill redevelopment project,

Buildings F and M are both now being designed, she said, and slated for completion by mid-2023.

Courtesy of Leggat McCall Properties
A rendering of the approved design for Building F in the Bunker Hill redevelopment.

Nick Nigro of Leggat McCall Properties, said for Building F, traffic to the site would be rerouted off Chelsea Street and down Decatur Street via Mt. Vernon Street instead. Decatur, Corey, and Morris streets would be closed to provide access to the site, he said, which is expected to have minimal impact as those streets are primarily used by Bunker Hill residents and the units there are already vacant.

The Boston Transportation Department still must approve the traffic plans, though, said Nigro.

Another plan is also in the works with the Kennedy Center to separate their operations from the redevelopment operation as much as possible, he said, which would include creating a turnaround to make a drop-off for children in the morning, which would be apart from the construction site, as well as the relocation of some crosswalks in the area.

Regarding dust control, one step taken would be to frequently water debris, said Nigro, to “minimize dust migration,” as well as to use “no-hoist” methods to transport materials to the buildings under construction.

Rodent and pest control has been the biggest topic of conversation with residents, said Nigro, particularly the potential displacement of the rodent population during building demolition.

In an effort to contain the rodent population, a bait-and-trap approach would be taken initially, he said, and then, the issue would be managed continually during  construction.

The project team has also walked the project site with Kennedy Center officials to help develop a “rodent plan” with them in mind, added Nigro.

Staging would be contained within the perimeters of the site, said Nigro, as would all activity related to the redevelopment project, except for the comings and goings of trucks.

Since March, the project team has also looked at trees and plantings within the streetscapes in an effort to save as many trees as possible, said Nigro, since this is “obviously a very large community concern.”

There are 48 existing trees between both the Buildings F and M sites, said Nigro, who added that more trees had been preserved due to the advancement in the design and engineering process.

Moreover, the project team has engaged a company called Cambion Carbon, said Nigro, to help them reuse wood salvaged from the removed tress for reuse in the buildings themselves, as well as in benches and playsets on site.

Since the last public meeting was held six months ago, the project has changed significantly over the course of more than 20 public meetings, as well as via the Impact Advisory Group (IAG) process, to include more trees, seven acres of open space, 50,000 square feet of new  retail, and a 14,000 square-foot community center., said Grady.

Under the auspices of the project, 21 Bunker Hill youth participated over the summer in the inaugural Design Corps, a seven-week program co-hosted by the Charlestown Resident Alliance, Leggat McCall Properties, Joseph J. Corcoran Co., and Wentworth Institute of Technology with support from InOrder, the project’s DEI consultant.

The project team also engaged residents in August to get their input on kitchen and design teams, she said, as well as via Zoom and at two marathon office-hour sessions held two weeks ago at the Bunker Hill Mall.

Regarding the future of the brick used in the original Bunker Hill development, which one neighbor online for the meeting estimated to be worth millions of dollars, Grady said unfortunately, it wasn’t salvable because mastic on the back of the brick contains asbestos.

State Rep. Dan Ryan,  said, “We’ve made a lot of progress, but have a lot longer to go, but if we stick together, it will be a beautiful new development [for residents and neighbors].”

Demolition and site preparation is expected to get underway in the winter of 2022, according to the project team.

“We want to do this as fast as we can, so we’ll keep the community updated on future phases when we know more,” said Grady.

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