Senior Housing Project Breaks Ground

The East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC) broke ground last week on its Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) approved project to create a 42 unit residential building serving low-income seniors.

The Grace Apartments, located at 187 Sumner St. will also renovate 17 income-restricted units on the site’s existing building according to Zoe Cushman of Public Relation firm Matter Now.

“Ground has officially broken on Grace Apartments,” said Cushman. “The new residences will be built adjacent to the historic Woodbury Apartments, providing existing residents with the option to move into Grace Apartments upon construction completion. As part of a long-term plan, the completion of Grace Apartments will allow for future renovations to the Woodbury Building for workforce housing.”

Cushman said the development answers calls from both Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for improved access to affordable housing in Greater Boston and across the Commonwealth.

The project was approved at the BPDA’s board meeting in January, 2019. BPDA officials said the approval of the 42 income-restricted senior units at 187 Sumner St. makes progress towards Mayor Walsh’s goal of increasing affordable housing to support not only a strong middle-class, but also area seniors. Mayor Walsh has updated the City’s housing targets to support the creation of new affordable housing, increase access to homeownership opportunities, and prevent displacement of the neighborhood’s most vulnerable residents.

According to plans approved by the BPDA, the CDC project involves the construction of a new 39,067 square foot,  42-unit seven-story building and the renovation of an existing 26,800 square foot building currently on the same site in Maverick Square.

The new building will include all low-income elderly housing. The existing building, which includes 17 elderly/disabled subsidized units as well as approximately 3,000 square feet of ground floor commercial, will be converted to workforce housing units, including two affordable units.

The property consists of a 16,266-square foot parcel of land with 26,800-square foot of mixed use, residential and commercial building.

There will be no changes to the footprint of the existing building and the proposed new building will be situated behind the existing building.

The 3,798 square foot first floor will consist of a community room, kitchen, lobby, mailroom, office, and mechanical space. The lot size will accommodate five parking spaces, one of which will be handicapped accessible.

The second through seventh floors will have seven units per floor, for a total of 42 units. There will be no changes to the footprint of the existing building.

The tenants in the existing building will be given the option to move to a new unit upon completion of the first phase of the project.

The CDC has controlled the project site since the late 1970s. The property consists of an irregular shaped 16,266 square foot parcel of land behind the existing 26,800 square foot mixed use, residential and commercial building.

The CDC sought to develop the land back in 1975 and received approvals by the then Boston Redevelopment Authority but those approvals have since expired.

The CDC held a BPDA-sponsored meeting back in September 2019 as part of the Article 80 review process and there was little to no opposition to the plans.

The CDC’s Al Caldarelli argued in the project’s filing that the proposed project offers the immense benefit of increasing the number of senior affordable housing units in Maverick Square. Caldarelli added that the CDC is acutely aware of the demand for senior affordable housing in Eastie as developers and managers of several elderly affordable housing developments in the neighborhood.

“There are over one-thousand households on the CDC’s waiting list for its elderly affordable housing developments,” said Caldarelli. “Moreover, the proposed project will create workforce housing in the heart of Maverick Square, adding a diversity of incomes and ages to development.”

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