The highly anticipated housing development that brings affordable and workforce housing, as well as housing for homeless families, to Jamaica Plain officially opened last week.
A.O. Flats at Forest Hills, which adds 78 new low to moderate-income units and 1,500 square feet of commercial space inside a five story building, is already being hailed as a great addition to the neighborhood by residents who recently moved in.
“I chose A.O. Flats for the opportunity to live in income-restricted housing and the community of folks that fill the building,” said resident Samantha Montano. “I love the energy efficiency of the building and the light that comes in from my windows each day. We need more mixed-income housing like this all over the city.”
The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) approved project was built on a once-vacant MBTA parcel in Jamaica Plain within walking distance of Forest Hills MBTA Station, the Arnold Arboretum, the Southwest Corridor Park, local restaurants, and cultural venues.
Mayor Martin Walsh said the grand opening of A.O. Flats at Forest Hills follows years of community planning efforts by the City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), the BPDA, local residents, and the MBTA.
“Housing opportunities like this one create a stronger community and are a model for creating affordable green development all across the City of Boston,” said Mayor Walsh. “I want to thank The Community Builders, our partners, and the Forest Hills community for continuing to work with us to create this needed new affordable housing and retail space here in Jamaica Plain.”
According to DND the new development creates 40 new affordable apartments for households earning at or below 60 percent of area median income. Eight of these units are set-aside for formerly homeless families who earn at or below 30 percent area median income (AMI). HomeStart provided direct referrals for the formerly homeless households that now occupy these eight units.
A.O. Flats also includes 38 units of workforce housing financed by MassHousing intended for households earning at or below 120 percent AMI.
“We are proud to partner with the City of Boston to make quality housing affordable to more Boston families,” said Andy Waxman, regional vice president for The Community Builders. “A.O. Flats offer beautiful rental homes with easy access to transit in a vibrant neighborhood that people at a range of incomes can afford.”
A.O. Flats at Forest Hills includes 8 studios, 37 one-bedroom units, 25 two-bedroom family units, and 8 three-bedroom family units, an elevator for accessibility, central air, on-site laundry facilities, a large community space for programming for residents on the ground floor, a fitness room, top floor lounging deck, and a rear courtyard. A lobby fronting on Hyde Park Ave provides pedestrian access to the 78 residential apartments and associated amenities, including two community rooms. A second egress from the first floor opens into a new pocket park that is available to the public. The approximately 1,500 square foot retail space has its own entrance at the corner of Hyde Park Ave and Ukraine Way. Construction of the new building generated more than 250 construction jobs.
In accordance with the City of Boston’s Green Affordable Housing Program, A.O. Flats at Forest Hills utilizes high-efficiency heating and cooling systems and Energy Star rated appliances and materials. The development employs environmentally friendly design features throughout as a LEED-Homes Platinum certifiable building that includes PV solar panels. These residences also meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star standards. The project team includes The Community Builders as the developer, The Architectural Team as the architect, and Bilt Rite Construction as the general contractor.
“MassHousing was very pleased to be part of this transformative project that has created new, energy-efficient housing and economic opportunity for households of varying incomes within steps of public transportation who can now live and work in the city,” said MassHousing Executive Director Chrystal Kornegay. “Congratulations to TCB and the city of Boston for taking a vacant MBTA lot and creating new, vibrant housing opportunities for working families in Boston.”
A.O. Flats at Forest Hills have been made possible by a contribution of $2.25 million in the Department of Neighborhood Development funding and $750,000 in Neighborhood Housing Trust Funds. Furthermore, sources included $8.1 million in MassHousing Workforce funding, $13.09 million MassHousing permanent funding, $8.84 in Equity (Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Solar), and a $2.6 million sponsor loan from The Community Builders.