First Jackson project a go

April 17, 2009
By

DAVID TABER

After 10+ years of planning, ground will be broken this year

JACKSON SQ.—A six-story mixed-use, mixed-income development project 225 Centre St. looks likely to be the first project built in an ambitious, revitalization project in the neighborhood, thanks to state funding awards announced earlier this month.

The development at the corner of Centre Street and Columbus Avenue, just north of the Jackson Square T Sta-tion, is being undertaken by Mitchell Properties. Mitchell is working on the redevelopment project with a group of local developers known as Jackson Square Partners.

“This is what we were waiting for,” JP resident Bart Mitchell of Mitchell Properties told the Gazette.

The $7 million in funding clears the way for Mitchell to begin working on the project in earnest, but the developer does not plan to break ground until the end of 2009. Construction will begin “in the start of the fourth quarter, before the end of the year,” Mitchell said.

Work should take about 20 months, he said, and will likely take place in conjunction with infrastructure im-provements planned for the area, Mitchell said. Those plans include streetscape improvements and utility up-grades in the area.

The completed project will feature 103 new apartments, including 35 affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and over 16,000 square feet of stores and restaurants.

The funding came as part of a $108 million public investment in new affordable housing announced by Gov. De-val Patrick on April 3. Mitchell properties is receiving $1 million in state loans; $1 million in grants; and $5 million in state tax credits, allocated over five years.

“I would like to express my appreciation to the governor and [state Rep.] Jeff Sánchez for supporting this important development in Jackson Square,” Mitchell said.

“When we first got into this, we knew money for the project was going to be an issue,” said Sánchez, who has been involved with Jackson Square development planning since he worked in the Mayor’s Office in the 1990s. “This brings it closer to happening…I am very excited. Given all the bad things going on, this project moving forward is pretty exciting.”

The Jackson Square redevelopment project also includes similarly sized projects being undertaken by Urban Edge and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), two local community development corpo-rations. In addition to residential and commercial development, the JPNDC is working with the Hyde Square Task Force to build a community center, and Urban Edge has plans to build a recreational facility. The group of de-velopers is organized as Jackson Square partners. Mitchell Properties is the only for-profit developer on the team.

Other projects scheduled for phase one of the redevelopment are not scheduled to begin this year—JPNDC’s com-munity center and Urban Edges development on land at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Ritchie Street on the Roxbury side of Columbus Avenue. Urban Edge’s plans included a 25-bed Department of Youth Services (DYS) youth rehabilitation facility on its property, but the developer is in the process of rethinking those plans after DYS pulled out of the deal last year.

Jackson Square has been designated by the United States Green Building Council as a pilot development project for its new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) neighborhood development program. The building at 225 Centre St. will be a “national model for green development,” Mitchell said.

Plans for the project include geothermal wells that will carry water from the building’s heating and air con-ditioning systems down 1,500 feet, where the temperature is constantly about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In the sum-mer, the process will cool the water for reuse. In the winter, the water will be warmed up so that the heating system has to do less work.

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