JPNC Housing & Development Committee discusses several issues 

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Housing & Development Committee met virtually on June 21 to discuss several updates as well as to hear a presentation from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) regarding development in the Jackson Square area.

COMMUNITY UPDATES

3390 Washington St.— BMS Paper

An update was provided on the BMS Paper project, which many members of the Stonybrook community have had concerns with. It was reported that the mass of the building has been reduced, and the building has been split into two. The existing historic BMS Paper storefront has been further preserved, and there will be more open space, according to what was presented at the most recent Boston Civic and Design Commission (BCDC) hearing.

Housing & Development Committee co-chair Micah Sachs talked about the settlement that has been reached between Turtle Swamp Brewing and the proponents of the senior affordable housing building proposed next door at 3371 Washington St. The settlement includes moving the wall of the senior building back to eliminate some of the proposed courtyard space.

Monastery of St. Clare

Sachs said that there is no further update regarding this project. As last reported, he said that the Poor Clare sisters still need to submit paperwork to the Boston Landmarks Commission for the demolition delay process, which he said they have not yet done. Sarah Horsley said there is a petition to preserve the existing building and create affordable hosing. The petition can be found at bit.ly/PoorClaresJP. 

JACKSON SQUARE AND MILDRED HAILEY REDEVELOPMENT

Rebecca Mautner and Giovanny Valencia from the JPNDC presented some information on development in the Jackson Square area, with a focus on the Mildred Hailey redevelopment project. 

Mautner said that there are several JPNDC projects in development in JP, Roxbury, and Dorchester that will provide both home ownership and rental opportunities to residents. 

Valencia  said that JPNDC, Urban Edge, and The Community Builders (TCB) have partnered for more than 20 years on the redevelopment of the Jackson Square area. 

They talked about some projects in the Jackson Square area, such as 225 Centre St., which was developed by TCB, is now complete, and consists of 103 units, 35 of which are affordable.

Jackson Commons, which was developed by Urban Edge, is also complete, and consists of 37 affordable units. 127 Amory is being developed by TCB and is currently under design. It will feature 96 affordable units. Future projects include 101 Amory St. with around 140 units, and 1550 Columbus, which does not yet have a proposed unit count.

Mautner also talked about the Greenway proposed for Jackson Square, which will be developed by JPNDC. According to a slide presented, JPNDC has been gathering financing since 2019, and this year is looking to secure approval from the MBTA and the city. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of next year. 

Mautner provided an overview of the Mildred Hailey redevelopment project. She said that the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the first half of the project, which is called Phase One, and consists of “roughly about half of the units.” 

The project will feature seven new residential buildings with about 678 apartments, including the replacement of the existing 253 public housing units. The remaining 425 units will be “at various income levels,” according to a slide presented. The project also includes a new 6,800 square foot Anna Mae Cole community center, along with 8,300 square feet of ground floor non-residential space. 

The project is a partnership between TCB, JPNDC, and Urban Edge, and Buildings 1A and 1B are being developed by TCB and are currently in the midst of the closing process, Mautner said. 

Building 2, which will be developed by JPNDC, “won’t start until early 2025,” she said, once buildings 1A and 1B are complete. Building 4 will be developed by Urban Edge, and buildings 5A and 5B “are no longer connected,” she said. “One is Urban Edge and one is JPNDC.”

Construction on buildings 1A and 1B is anticipated to begin before the end of the year. Building 1A features 100 affordable units, and Building 1B features 123 affordable units.

Mautner said that the project in its entirety, up to Building 5, is “basically a 10 year plan.”

It will be all rental housing, with no ownership units. “All of the current public housing residents will be able to return, and although the financing will change, their rent payment should stay the same unless their financial situation changes,” she said. 

Valencia said that “initially, residents were very scared, very concerned about their homes and their neighborhood,” but after they were engaged with surveys and other meetings, “they can see that things are real” and they will be able to move into a nice, new unit, he said. 

Lastly, Mautner spoke about the Shattuck, as the RFP for that land was released last week and has a “60 day turnaround,” she said. She said JPNDC will be partnering with TCB and Pine Street Inn on a proposal “within the BMC Master Plan,” a slide read. “The RFP is very clear in its focus on supportive housing,” Mautner said. “We will be working on a plan for both individuals and families.”

FORBES BUILDING

The Housing & Development Committee also returned to its discussion on the Forbes Building, which has been at the top of people’s minds as they try to save the affordability of the units and come to an agreement with owner Paul Clayton so current residents are not displaced.

Micah Sachs said that a letter was approved and sent by the JPNC to Clayton and several elected officials. 

The letter asks that Clayton “temporarily but formally alleviate the Section 13A tenants’ housing anxiety by formally and publicly agreeing to neither evict nor raise the rent of these tenants through December 21, 2022.”

It also invited Clayton to a JPNC Housing & Development Committee meeting to share his plans for preserving affordability, as well as restates that the Council continues to support the petition, titled “Sign the Contracts Now to Save Our Homes,” which was signed in August of last year and sent to Clayton in October of last year. 

Lastly it calls for Clayton to “be transparent with tenants of the Forbes about your long-term plans for the building and the process you are undertaking to develop these plans.”

Michael Kane, executive director of MassAlliance of HUD Tenants, reported that some tenants “received a couple of threatening letters” from Clayton, and rent has been increased for some tenants. 

Annette White-Cole is a current tenant in the Forbes Building, and has been living there since 2018.

“Right now, presently, my rent is greater than my income,” she said. “I have been trying to keep my head above water and trying not to experience homelessness for a second time. My health has declined; I am unable to work.”

She said she has been reaching out to agencies to try and get assistance with her rental payment, but that will expire in July and she also has medical equipment that she cannot bring to a shelter. She said she really hopes that Clayton can sign the agreement offered by the state soon.

Kane said that an “emergency tenant meeting” was held, and there are “former 13A tenants who were paying more than 30 percent of their income before, with the rent increase, it gets a little worse. The answer for this is for the owner to sign the state’s offered contract. The owner would actually make more money from that contract than from the rent increase that was just imposed on the tenants. We’re glad to hear that they’re working on a proposal.” 

He added that such a proposal has yet to be received by the city and state, however. “We look forward to seeing it,” he said, but it “will have to include a long-term and subsidy contract.”

He thanked the Housing & Development for its letter, which he said “encouraged; supported our request to be part of the process.” He asked for a follow up on that letter to help elicit a response from representatives of the owner about the recent rent increase.

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