Standing room only for new Navy Yard project

More than 200 people came out on a raw and rainy night to attend the first public hearing conducted by the Charlestown Neighborhood Council (CNC) regarding the proposed affordable housing building in the Navy Yard. The building, formerly known as the Constitution Inn that has been owned by the YMCA for a number of years, will now receive a new moniker — The Helm on Third.

On Tuesday, residents heard proposals to convert the 147-room inn into affordable housing with 126 rental units consisting of 98 studio, 24 one-bedroom, and four two-bedroom apartments. Speakers representing the organizations that will oversee the construction and management of the project included Karen LaFrazia, President and CEO of St. Francis House; Bill Grogan, President of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs; and Irene Collins, Chief Communications Officer for The Greater Boston YMCA.

Residents voiced their dismay that the process by these three agencies has been ongoing for the last several months, but that this was the first meeting on the proposal for which they had been informed. They also questioned why the developers were trying to be exempted from the Article 80 law and why the tenants will consist predominantly of recently-homeless men.

CNC Chairman Tom Cunha told the audience that smaller group meetings had been held by these organizations with other stakeholders in the Navy Yard.  He also said that there would be more meetings in the future and that residents should write to their city councilors to share their concerns about the project.

At the end of the almost three-hour meeting, residents and members of the CNC still had questions for the developers. LaFrazia and Grogan encouraged residents to send their questions either to them or to the CNC, and that they will endeavor to provide answers.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency has scheduled a virtual meeting on Oct. 24 starting at 6 p.m. to discuss the project.

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