The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) held an Oct. 17 public meeting to update residents on the status of the already approved General Heath Square (GHS) Apartments affordable housing development project, which should be available for residency in September 2019.
The then Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approved the project in December 2015. The project, developed by Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) in partnership with Back of the Hill CDC, has been securing funding and will provide only affordable housing. This past August, the project received its state funding award.
GHS will be a 56,000-square-foot building built on currently vacant land on the Jamaica Plain/Mission Hill border near Jackson Square. The proposed four-story building will include 47 new affordable housing units. Of the 47 units, 12 will be one-bedroom, 21 will be two-bedrooms, and 14 will be three-bedrooms. There will also be an additional 824-square-foot commercial space and a 1,042-square-foot community room. The proposed use for the commercial space is not yet known.
The building will also provide 20 parking spaces, a low ratio of .43 spaces per unit because the location is .25 miles from Jackson Square and the development is “transit-oriented,” according to Matt Henzy with the JPNDC.
The apartments will provide resident services for special needs populations as appropriate, meaning that “folks that meet those definitions will be able to succeed,” said Henzy.
At the Oct. 17 meeting, about 20 residents attended with some expressing concerns about density and increased traffic.
Henzy said that the project will contribute very little to the traffic, referencing a traffic study that the team had done several years ago.
“Traffic is consistent city-wide,” said Aisling Kerr, project assistant at the BPDA. “We’re looking at that and trying to improve it every single day. The City is very much in favor of transit-oriented development, which is why we support this project.”
In response to questions about why the project will be so dense, Henzy said “it’s our mission to provide affordable housing for people who need it.”
Maggie Cohn of JPNDC added that originally JPNDC proposed a less dense building of 40 units, but the City wanted more housing, so they compromised at 47 units.
The total expected development cost will be $18,028,805, or $378,256 per unit. The developers expect to acquire the exact amount of funds that they need through tax credit equity, city subsidy, state subsidy, Mass Dev Brownfields, and a permanent loan.
“Thank you for your tax dollars, because we do use some of that money to build this development,” Henzy said.
In terms of affordability, the project will include 16 units for households with incomes under 30 percent area median income (AMI) through Project Based Section 8 or Mass Rental Voucher Program. Of those 16, five units will be permanently reserved for formerly homeless individuals or families.
Two units will be permanently reserved for clients of the HUD 811 Project Based Rental Assistance Program, which is targeted to serve non-elderly disabled households with income under 30 percent AMI.
Two units will be permanently reserved for clients of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services for households with income under 30 percent AMI.
Twenty units will be for households with income under 60 percent AMI, and seven units will be for moderate income households with income under 70 percent AMI.
The architects for the project are Prellwitz Chilinski Associates and the property will be managed by Peabody Properties.
The project has received BPDA Article 80 approval and zoning approval, and has also secured a City funding award and a state funding award as of August. The next steps are finance closing and acquisition, with an anticipated construction start in March 2018. The construction will be completed in July 2019, and full occupancy will be in September 2019.
Another public meeting will be scheduled a month prior to construction to notify residents about the plan for work hours and who to contact with complains during that time.