Final Jackson Square plans submitted

December 1, 2006
By

JOHN RUCH

JACKSON SQ.—Jackson Square Partners submitted its final plans for redeveloping more than 9 acres of Jackson Square to the city on Nov. 1.

The first phase—including a Youth and Family Center and a major housing tower—is scheduled for completion in 2010.

The plans also continue to feature an additional 2 acres of land that Jackson Square Partners still doesn’t own or control. They are an NSTAR substation at the key Centre Street/Columbus Avenue corner, and the city Department of Public Works (DPW) salt shed land at Columbus and Ritchie Street.

The plans deal with those lots by putting them into the last phase of construction and hoping that time will heal all planning questions.

Also still up in the air is a possible rebuilt Kelly ice skating rink. The plans don’t refer to a rink, but rather to an “indoor active recreation center” or “multipurpose indoor recreational space.” It would go on the longed-for DPW land. The pro-rink group Friends of the Kelly Rink remains a member of the development team.

A public meeting to unveil the plans was scheduled for Thursday night after the Gazette went to press.

Key features of the plans include:

• A 1.5-acre public plaza across from the Jackson Square T Station along the Southwest Corridor.

• About 429 units of housing, including 270 rentals and 159 condos. However, that total includes 54 units slated for the parcel NSTAR still owns.

• Permanent affordability on 58 to 68 percent of the units, depending on how they’re counted. Of the 429 units, about 251 would be affordable to people making up to 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), and 39 more units would be affordable to those making up to 110 percent of AMI.

• About 67,700 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

• About 13,500 square feet of office space.

• About 50,600 square feet of “community facilities.” That includes the 19,800-square-foot Youth and Family Center, the indoor rec center and a rebuilt version of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) juvenile rehabilitation facility on Columbus Avenue.

• About 500 off-street parking spaces and about 128 on-street spaces. The project includes building a new road called Jackson Street through the southern half of the development.

• The tallest building would be 120 feet.

The redevelopment involves about 6.5 acres of former publicly owned land around the T station, including the triangular lawn next to it and the empty lots across Centre Street. Urban Edge, one of the development team members, is contributing the rest of the land, including its own Webb Building land on Columbus.

The plans seek to begin some preparation work late next year, which would involve demolishing the current DYS facility.

Phase 1 construction could start in 2008. It would focus on the triangular parcel and the Webb Building area.

The plans acknowledge that “substantial planning issues” remain in attempting to reuse the NSTAR site. Currently there is a power substation there that would have to be moved someplace else.

As for the DPW site, the developers have long hoped to reorient the salt shed there and acquire use of some of the space. Urban Edge had such hopes even before Jackson Square Partners was formed. But the team appears to be no closer to actually coming to such an agreement.

The plans say the developers are “anxious to begin working closely with DPW on this matter.”

Even the possible DYS demolition work would require some easement access through the DPW property, which also has not been agreed on, according to the plans.

Development of the NSTAR and DPW properties are marked for the last phase of construction, which would end in 2013.

There has been some confusion over the name of the development team, which was previously known as Partners for Jackson but more recently has been using Jackson Square Partners.

Officially, Jackson Square Partners refers to the limited liability corporation that is in charge of the project, which includes Urban Edge, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and the Hyde Square Task Force.

Partners for Jackson is used to refer to the entire development team, which includes the core Jackson Square Partners group as well as other major, non-voting partners, including the local developer Mitchell Properties, the retail developer Gravestar and Friends of the Kelly Rink.