Boston – June 30, 2014 – (RealEstateRama) — On Thursday, June 26, 2014, city and state officials celebrated the second phase of redevelopment at the Old Colony public housing community in South Boston, marking the midway point for redevelopment of the site. The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) began overhauling the site in 2009.
Developed by Beacon Communities LLC, construction of Phase Two began in October 2012. This phase included redevelopment of a second portion of the Old Colony site into innovative, high-efficiency affordable housing in townhouse-style and four-story elevator buildings. Funded in part by a federal $22-million HOPE VI grant, work included the demolition of 223 original apartments along Old Colony Avenue up to Dorchester Street and over to Reverend Burke Street. One hundred twenty nine of the new apartments are now complete and construction is underway on the remaining 40 apartments, which will be ready for occupancy next year.
“New green and affordable housing and job creation make this project a win-win for the city and its residents,” said Mayor Walsh. “We’re cutting the ribbon today and look forward to future ribbon cuttings until the Old Colony public housing development is fully redeveloped.”
Following in the footsteps of Phase One, this development is one of the “greenest” residential affordable housing developments constructed in the Commonwealth. The project meets the Enterprise Green Community Criteria, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Building and Neighborhood Development Certification, and Energy Star Homes certification. All the newly constructed buildings are smoke-free to comply with the BHA’s and Beacon Communities’ recently adopted non-smoking policy. The HOPE VI award also allows BHA to provide a robust community and supportive services program with intensive case management services that focus on education from early childhood through adulthood.
“The redevelopment of Old Colony not only changed the development; it has also changed the face of the neighborhood,” said BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle. The BHA also created a Project Labor Agreement with Beacon and the Boston Building Trades to insure that the construction was completed by members of the union trades.
Phase One of Old Colony was completed in December 2011. Old Colony Phase One included the demolition of 164 of the existing distressed units along Columbia Road and Old Colony Avenue and the construction of 116 new affordable rental units in an attractive elevator building and four townhouse-style buildings. Two new streets better open the development to the surrounding neighborhood. Also included in Phase One was outdoor recreation space and a new 10,000 square foot Learning Center, which houses a computer room, Head Start program, and community service programs. The Learning Center was named after former Boston City Council President Joseph M. Tierney, who passed away in 2009. Mr. Tierney grew up in the Old Colony development.
Pam Goodman, President of Beacon Communities Development, said “Beacon is proud of our team’s work at Old Colony. We agree one hundred percent with Mayor Walsh and we are committed to work with the City, BHA, residents, and the State to develop a program that will enable us to complete the redevelopment of Old Colony.”
Old Colony Phase Two is funded through a combination of a federal HOPE VI grant ($22 million), investment from the City of Boston ($1 million plus construction of the new roads and infrastructure), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ($4.5 million plus an allocation of Federal and State low-income housing tax credits) and private investment financing from U.S.Bank and Boston Community Loan Fund. MassHousing, in partnership with the AFL-CIO, also provided construction financing.
In 2009/2010, the Boston Housing Authority undertook a public process to create a Master Plan for the redevelopment of the Old Colony public housing community in South Boston. At the time, Old Colony was home to 840 families (over 2,000 individuals) and was the largest public housing community that BHA had ever targeted for redevelopment. Originally constructed in 1941, Old Colony had fallen into severe distress with deficiencies too numerous to be addressed through incremental rehabilitation. The Old Colony Master Plan that was created out of the year-long public process calls for a new community that will be a model of sustainability, not only in terms of energy efficiency, but also in terms of creating connections for Old Colony residents to the opportunities available in the broader community.
BHA and its partners are pursuing financing opportunities to undertake redevelopment of the remaining 453 original units of the Old Colony site, in future years.