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The Commonwealth Blog

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Changing Face of Charlestown

Boston’s oldest neighborhood is about to get a huge makeover. The Boston Planning & Development Agency is currently reviewing a $1 billion plan to breathe new life into Charlestown by redeveloping 13 blocks of housing. The project, dubbed One Charlestown, will involve converting 3,200 units of the Bunker Hill Apartments into market-rate, workforce, and affordable apartments. One Charlestown will replace 1,100 affordable apartments that were built in the 1940s under the New Deal. The architects of One Charlestown believe that these older apartments are geographically isolated and becoming worn down, and a major goal of the project is to create affordable housing that is better connected to the neighborhood and built with the same high-quality as market-value units.

One Charlestown isn’t just about replacing outdated apartments. The project proposal also calls for two new parks, streetscape improvements, and 90,000 square feet of civic and retail space.

Other goals of the development project include:

  • Improving walkability in the neighborhood. Builders will add more sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety and make it easy for residents of the new development to walk to other parts of the neighborhood.
  • Preserving the history and character of Charlestown. New buildings will complement the neighborhood’s existing architectural style, and taller buildings will be set away from the surrounding blocks and closer to other tall structures (including the Tobin Bridge).
  • Adding more green space. The architects intend to add one-level underground parking garages with landscaped roofs to reduce surface-level parking and create more green space.
  • Applying the same high standards to all housing units. As previously mentioned, One Charlestown will create a mix of affordable, workforce, and market-value housing in the same complex. Current residents of the Bunker Hill Apartments have been involved in planning the new units and ensuring affordable units will have the same amenities as market-value ones.

The One Charlestown developers can’t break ground until their project receives approval from the city’s planning department, but once construction does get underway, the project is bound to transform this historic neighborhood. If the development goes as planned, One Charlestown could make the residential neighborhood more diverse, more walkable, and better connected.

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