JPNC Housing and Development Committee hears Mildred Hailey Phase One proposal

The Housing & Development Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council met virtually on October 20, where members and residents heard a presentation from the proponents of the Mildred Hailey Phase One Redevelopment project, which includes a one to one replacement of the 253 public housing units that exist at the site.

The project, which will be a partnership between The Community Builders (TCB), the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), and Urban Edge, will ultimately create a total of 690 apartments “at a range of income tiers,” according to the Project Notification Form. 

Giovanny Valencia of the JPNDC and Laura Martin of TCB presented the proposal for Phase One of the development, and explained how the project is going to work.

“This project will take several years,” Valencia said, adding that it will help to improve the quality of life for residents who live in the existing apartments. 

To date, there have been several meetings with existing residents over the past three years, as well as focus groups, stakeholder meetings, and community meetings more recently, Valencia said.

He said that community feedback from residents so far has been that they would like to see “improved security and safety,” an “accessible and universal design, provide indoor and outdoor community spaces, create safe pedestrian connections across streets and keep vehicles at slow speeds, [and] use inclusive design for an integrated mixed-income community,” according to a slide presented at the meeting. 

Martin explained some of the Master Plan goals of the project, which include the one to one replacement of the existing deeply affordable units, as well as the creation of new affordable apartments to create a “mixed-income community” with “robust community services and programming,” and a new Anna Mae Cole Center. 

Other goals of the project include better connecting Mildred Hailey and the surrounding neighborhood, building new apartments first to minimize the number of times residents have to move, and a “sustainable and resilient design,” according to the presentation.

Martin explained that the buildings will happen on a “phased-in” approach, meaning that vacant land will be built on first and then move residents into those to minimize displacement.

When the entire project is complete, there will be seven new residential buildings, the new Anna Mae Cole Center, 8,300 square feet of retail or community programming/nonprofit space, and garage as well as street parking space. 

Some urban design elements include the addition of street and pedestrian connections with “active uses along Centre St.” and a “variety of building forms,” the presentation stated. Additionally, all new sidewalks and buildings will be fully accessible, and building entrances will be on main streets to improve safety.

Martin said that there would be five subphases, and construction is expected to begin in 2022 and end in 2030.

She said that buildings 1A and 1B will be the first two to be built, and will include courtyards in the middle that will be accessible to all Mildred Hailey residents, and there will be a community garden as well. Additionally, there will be a new plaza in between the two new buildings with the Anna Mae Cole Center entrance through the plaza.

The buildings will be built with all electric heating and cooling, and gas hot water with the ability to convert to electric in the future, Martin said. Buildings 1A and !B will also “utilize passive house design principles,” the presentation said.

“We have been working hard with residents,” Valencia said. He said that at the beginning of the process, residents were concerned about displacement and whether or not they would be able to return once new units were ready, but the plan has been explained to residents and they have been involved in the process, he said.  

Different buildings will be managed by different groups; some will be TCB, some Urban Edge, and some JPNDC.

The three largest buildings: 1A, 1B, and 4, will be a mixture of deeply affordable, middle income, and upper income units, and the remaining four buildings will be 100 percent affordable units, Martin said.

Overall, residents seemed excited about the proposal and asked some questions about parking and the affordability of the units. Other people had concerns about transportation as well as the design of the bike corridor on Centre St. 

Carolyn Royce, Chair of the Housing & Development Committee, said that the project “meets a lot of what we would like to see.” The committee has a checklist they use to review different development projects that include factors like affordability and sustainability. 

Valencia said that the proponents would be “happy to share the presentation,” and more information about the project can be found on the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) website for this project. 

Discussion on this project will continue at future meetings and will eventually make its way to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council.

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