Senior Life: Senior housing project breaks ground

April 4, 2014
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A groundbreaking for a long-awaited senior housing project in Mission Hill last week doubled as the moment Mayor Martin Walsh announced a new Housing Task Force.

Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services (MHNHS) broke ground on March 29 for the 39-unit, affordable rental building for seniors on Gurney Street. The $15.9 million, transit-oriented project has been planned for several years.

The half-acre site located a block away from the Roxbury Crossing MBTA Station will be a four-story, wheelchair- accessible and green building with one-bedroom units averaging 540 square feet. Social amenities at the building will include a large community space at the ground level with handicap accessible bathrooms and kitchen and smaller community space on the upper floors offering the opportunity for many types of programming for its elderly residents.

Some of the land was donated by Wentworth Institute of Technology, whose president, Zorica Pantić, joined in the groundbreaking.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, whose grandfather was forced to move out of Mission Hill 35 years ago due to a lack of affordable housing, and state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, who grew up in Mission Hill, both spoke of the revitalization of the neighborhood that the project pushed forward.

“Remember how dark this street was?” Sánchez asked. “It’s examples like this that will lead the way forward.”

“This is a big deal,” he said.

The project is expected to be completed and ready for residents next spring. Resident selection will be by lottery.

Walsh joined in the groundbreaking and announced his task force.

“We’re here to celebrate the creation of the Mayor’s Housing Task Force,” Walsh said at the event. “This project is an example of that.”

Building upon the work of the Mayor’s Transition Team for Housing, the task force will create a response and operation plan to meet Boston’s housing challenges, including increasing the supply of housing; increasing the supply of housing for elderly and low-income households; and incentivizing developers to “build quality affordable housing,” Walsh said.

The task force will be composed of for-profit and nonprofit developers, academic experts, planning consultants, elected officials and tenant, neighborhood, and union representatives. The task force is expected to release a four-year plan by early summer.

Mayor Martin Walsh (at podium) speaks at the senior housing groundbreaking March 29, joined by (from left) City Councilor Josh Zakim; state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez; local activist Maria Sanchez; City Health and Human Services chief Felix G. Arroyo; and Wentworth Institute of Technology President Zorica Pantić. (Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira)

Mayor Martin Walsh (at podium) speaks at the senior housing groundbreaking March 29, joined by (from left) City Councilor Josh Zakim; state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez; local activist Maria Sanchez; City Health and Human Services chief Felix G. Arroyo; and Wentworth Institute of Technology President Zorica Pantić. (Gazette Photo by Rebeca Oliveira)

An illustration of the forthcoming senior housing building on Gurney Street. (Courtesy Image)

An illustration of the forthcoming senior housing building on Gurney Street. (Courtesy Image)

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