At Monday night’s Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) meeting, Trinity Financial’s Eva Erlick and Paul Scapicchio briefed residents on the Orient Heights Housing Development project.
In June, Trinity was picked by the Boston Housing Authority as the designated developer to rehab the aging Orient Heights Housing Development. Erlick announced at the meeting that Trinity has decided to completely raze the entire development and rebuild.
“We are here tonight to announce that we at Trinity have collectively agreed to tear down the buildings and rebuild the entire complex,” said Erlick. “We are really excited and as we move forward we will spend the next couple of weeks really getting a solid design so we have some renderings when we come back to the community in January.”
Scapicchio also handed out note cards at the meeting so residents could jot down suggestions and ideas about design and other aspects of the project.
Erlick said the tear down and rebuilding of the housing development would be done in phases with the first phase starting at the end of the housing development on the Waldemar Avenue side. This would consist of 130 or so of the 300 to 400 units Trinity would build.
“We will then work our way from bottom to the top of the development,” she said. “We plan to begin in Summer of 2016.”
At past meetings Trinity and the BHA said the cost between a rehab of the housing development and a complete tear down was minimal. Most OHNC members supported a tear down of the development over a rehab project. Both Trinity and the BHA also favored that approach at the last community meeting. This was the same avenue Trinity took with the Maverick Housing Development when they redeveloped that public housing site through a Hope VI grant in the early 2000s.
Trinity is looking to develop something new a better at the site, improve the connection to streets that surround the public housing development and engage the surrounding neighborhood’s character as the cornerstone of the new buildings’ design..
Some design ideas being floated around mimic Trinity’s work on Maverick Gardens with buildings taking on a more ‘townhouse’ feel.
Two years ago the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) picked Orient Heights as one of 12 public housing developments in the state to receive High Leverage Asset Preservation Program (HILAPP) funds for an overhaul of more than half the units there.
The BHA will use HILAPP funds to redevelop 120 units of family housing at the Orient Heights development. In addition to DHCD funds, the project proposes to leverage 4 percent tax credit equity, a grant from the City of Boston, mortgage financing, and Section 8 rental subsidies.
Orient Heights is a 330-unit development and this project is the first of an anticipated 3-phase project to modernize the entire development over time.
The BHA and state have already been looking at the site, defining the paths it will take for a comprehensive remodeling and exploring different models of construction and cost.
The BHA will receive $5 million to begin the design phases of the projects. By the conclusion of this first competitive cycle, DHCD will invest up to $27 million in capital dollars to support the BHA’s plans for Orient Heights.