Heath St. DND parcels going to RFP

August 1, 2014
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JACKSON SQ.—A request for proposals to redevelopment 10 City-owned parcels along Heath Street will likely be issued this month, with a preference for “deeply affordable” residential units clearly expressed.

The City’s Department of Neighborhood Development has held three community meetings and a site tour about the contiguous parcels at 9-21 Bromley St., 894-908 Parker St., 58-62 New Heath St. and the parcel at Ward 10, number 02457000.

John Feuerbach, DND’s senior development officer for housing, said he expects that RFPs will be due in November and that the City will choose a developer by early 2015. A follow-up meeting, expected to be scheduled for December or January, will reveal the City’s final applicants for developer and allow the community to ask them questions that will inform DND’s decision.

The “predominantly low-income neighborhood” is “like a forgotten street,” Feuerbach said, noting that the City is looking for a way to “work with it creatively.”

According to Feuerbach, public feedback from previous community meetings said that “deeply affordable” housing units would be preferred for the project. That means that rentals would be affordable to families making under 80 percent of the area’s average median income (AMI).

However, the community would prefer that the bar be set at 30 percent AMI for the project, which would translate into $28,250 for a family of four. Affordability guidelines state that housing should not cost more than 40 percent of a household’s income.

“And income in that neighborhood is lower than Boston-wide,” Feuerbach said.

The City will ask for 100 percent of the proposed housing units to be affordable at 80 percent AMI, with 60 percent of them affordable to 60 percent AMI and 10 percent affordable to 30 percent AMI.

“This will be very clearly expressed in the RFP,” Feuerbach said. “Every developer will know what the community wants.”

In addition, the RFP will “request, but not require” space for local commercial and office uses on the property’s lower levels, Feuerbach said.

The 10 DND parcels in question total almost 29,000 square feet. The City acquired them through tax foreclosures and is planning their development as the last stage of the 15-year-old Heath Street Planning Initiative.

The site’s corner at Parker and Heath streets are close to smaller residential buildings, while the corner at New Heath and Bromley streets are close to the Pickle Factory condos and other taller buildings. Community members previously stated that the future development should take that into consideration, possibly stepping a future building down from a taller end to a shorter, residential-scale end.

Information on the project and meeting minutes are available at bit.ly/BOSdndNewHeath.

CORRECTION: Due to a reporter error, a previous version of this article stated that DND would announce its choice of developer at a Dec./Jan. community meeting. DND will bring the final applicants in to present to the community and allow the community to ask questions. This process will inform DND’s final choice of developer.