Charlestown’s Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment project receives approvals

by Liz Hughes

The Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment project has received approvals, and phase one of the $1.4 billion plan to bring new affordable and market-rate housing to Charlestown is set to begin this winter. 

Boston’s regulatory boards granted the project its master site and phase one design approvals in May, paving the way for demolition and construction to begin. The project has also secured the necessary financing. 

Once complete, the 26-acre project will bring renewed affordable housing to more than 2,500 current residents and offer new market-rate housing as well. The master plan includes the demolition of 42 buildings with 1,100 Boston Housing Authority units and the construction of 2,699 new units, along with 50,000 square feet of retail space, a 14,000-square-foot community center, off-street parking and open space. 

“Bunker Hill is a neighborhood rich in history and resiliency that spans the past and present,” Mayor Kim Janey said in a press release. “There is no other public-private development of this scale that exists in Boston today that so strongly symbolizes equity, sustainability and hope. The power of public participation throughout the planning process is a moment in time that the residents of Bunker Hill Housing and Charlestown will look back on with pride when new homes, open space and improved street connectivity become a reality.” 

Bunker Hill was originally built in 1940 as federal public housing. Many of its buildings have fallen into disrepair in the intervening decades due to a lack of federal funding.

The redevelopment is a public-private partnership of the Boston Housing Authority, the Charlestown Resident Alliance, the Joseph J. Corcoran Co., Leggat McCall Properties and Declaration Partners. 

“As the largest public housing development in New England, this redevelopment represents more than just a transformation of 42 buildings, but also an investment in our families and in our future as a City,” added BHA Administrator Kate Bennett. “I want to thank the residents and the broader community for helping us get to this important milestone.” 

The redevelopment will take place in phases over 10 years to minimize relocation disruption to current residents. Designs for phase one of the project, including two buildings on Medford Street and Samuel Morse Way, were unanimously approved by the Boston Civic Design Commission

The development team will need to seek design approval from BCDC and continue community discussions for each subsequent phase of the project, which represents an innovative public financing strategy that minimizes the use of public resources to replace public housing, according to officials.

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