Developers: Streetscape work will start soon

June 11, 2010
By

David Taber

JACKSON SQ.—Jackson Square Partners (JSP) is cutting it close on its previous prediction that it would begin the first phase of major infrastructure and streetscape work this spring.

Members of the multi-developer team told the Gazette last week that contracts are signed and work will begin in late June.

“The contractor is J. Derenzo Company. We signed the contract on May 14, have given them notice to proceed and expect construction to start within about two weeks—as soon as they have the necessary approvals from the city’s Transportation Department and licenses from the MBTA,” said Mossik Hacobian, president of non-profit developer Urban Edge, a JSP member, in an e-mail last week.

The work, including major improvements to streets and sidewalks, as well as utility upgrades to support planned new residential and commercial development in the area, is projected to be completed in October or November, Hacobian said.

The scheduled work includes the installation of a planted median on Columbus Avenue and new traffic signals and crosswalks at the Columbus Avenue bus entrance to the Jackson Square T Station. The bus entrance will be widened and realigned, providing access for parking once 225 Centre St.—a 103-unit rental apartment building with ground-floor retail—is constructed at the corner of Columbus and Centre.

That project is being built by for-profit developer Mitchell Properties, a member of JSP. Principal Bart Mitchell told the Gazette funding is still being finalized for 225 Centre. Previously he told the Gazette work would begin this year on the development.

A new walkway will be built along the station edge from the parking area to Centre Street, and improvements will be made to the sidewalks on Ritchie Street—the street opposite Centre on the other side of Columbus Avenue.

On Centre Street, the developers plan new traffic signals and crosswalks at the intersection of Centre and Lamartine streets and new, wider sidewalks along Centre Street between the T station and Lamartine.

Because the Lamartine/Centre intersection is also a crossing for the Southwest Corridor bike path, it will see an extra-wide 20-foot crosswalk for use by pedestrians and bicyclists. That crosswalk will be oriented so bicyclists can cross Centre without having to travel on the sidewalk to get back on the path on the station side.

For the past several months, JPNDC has been working on another mixed-use residential/retail development on Centre Street between Wise and Lamartine streets. That project is not part of the JSP redevelopment effort.

The plans also include the first section of bike lane markings heading toward Hyde Square from the Southwest Corridor crossing. A system of bike lanes and “sharrows”—pavement markings indicating shared bike/car travel lanes—is scheduled to be installed within the next year from Jackson Square to the Forest Hills T Station area as part of a redesign of the Centre and South street corridor.

The new Centre Street sidewalks will be between 12 and 16 feet wide. New commuter pick-up and drop-off lanes will be installed in front of the station on either side of the street. Centre Street’s travel lanes will also be straightened out on that section of road.

Work will also include a pedestrian walkway connecting Amory Street to Centre. Those two streets will eventually be connected after another JSP member, the non-profit Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, constructs a planned mixed-use retail/residential development at that future intersection.

All of the JSP members—which also include non-profit community organization the Hyde Square Task Force—are coordinating their efforts, but are working on separate development projects in the area. Close to 11 acres in the Jackson Square area are planned for redevelopment by the time the multi-phase project is done.

The infrastructure work is largely being funded by a state grant JSP received in 2008. Future phases of infrastructure work are planned with funding from other sources.

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