State environmental regulators (MEPA) have approved Phase 1 of the Mildred Hailey Apartments redevelopment plan, clearing one milestone as the project continues within the City’s review process.
In a letter late last month from State Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, she indicated the Phase 1 project has adequately complied in planning for environmental and climate impacts.
“The Environmental Notification Form (ENF) has adequately described and analyzed the project and its alternatives, and assessed its potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures,” read the approval letter. “Based on review of the ENF and comments received on it, and in consultation with State Agencies, I have determined that an EIR is not required.”
The project involves demolition of seven existing residential buildings containing approximately 253 residential units and the Anna Mae Cole Community Center. Seven new residential buildings containing 690 units will be constructed along with 8,300 sf of ground floor retail and/or commercial space, 6,800 sf of community space and 233 structured parking spaces. The project also involves construction of two new private roadways (Bickford Street Extension and Lamartine Road Extension) which will be open for public use and will provide an additional 76 street parking spaces. The project will have a mix of Section 8 replacement units (public housing), new restricted units at 50%, 60%, 80% and 100% average median income (AMI), and new units for upper‐middle income residents. The project is a public-private collaboration between the Boston Housing Authority and three non-profit builders known together as Centre Street Partners.
The approval allows the project to move on without having to go through the longer review processes involved in MEPA state reviews. That said, a longer City review process under Article 80 is still underway and continuing to have public meetings.
The state review looked at land alteration, impervious area/stormwater, water service, wastewater, climate change, resiliency, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, sustainable design, traffic, and construction plans.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which oversees the Southwest Corridor Park did request that the developer retain as many mature trees on the site as possible, and also enter into an agreement with them.
“To protect park character, DCR requests that large trees be retained on the project site adjacent to Southwest Corridor Park,” read the letter. “DCR also requests that the Proponent enter into an agreement with DCR to establish a coordinated approach to maintenance, and to clarify boundaries and responsibilities.”
One caveat in the letter was in regards to the larger overall plan to replace all of the Mildred Hailey Apartments – once known as Bromley-Heath. Right now, Phase 1 is a larger project without a next step. Though the current project is ready to go, the larger, remaining public housing development has no identified plans to be redeveloped. Theoharides indicated that if future plans emerge, they would need to possibly be filed as a project change and be reviewed again.
“The MEPA regulations include provisions to ensure that projects, including any future expansion thereof, are not segmented to evade, defer or curtail MEPA review,” she wrote. Given the absence of any identified redevelopment plans, this project does not appear to run afoul of the MEPA anti-segmentation provisions. However, should additional plans arise for the redevelopment of the remainder of the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments within the next five years, the BHA should consult with the MEPA Office on whether additional MEPA review, including submission of a Notice of Project Change, may be required.”