Central Avenue Development Shortens Timeline; Creates Garage

The development team looking to re-build the
Innes Housing Development into a mixed-income community has made some major
changes this summer – inserting a central parking garage and implementing a
single phase of construction that will cut two years off the build-out.

The Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) and Corcoran Development released the new plans this week ahead of a meeting with residents of the Innes on Tuesday night. The redevelopment plan includes 330 units of housing, with the existing 96 units of public housing re-developed alongside the market-rate housing and 40 workforce development units as well.

A rendering of the mixed-income development on Central Avenue

The major change in the project is
completing it within a single phase, staring in the fall of 2020 and cutting
off two years of construction due to eliminating phase 2.

CHA Director Al Ewing said as a result of
community input, they decided it would be better for residents and neighbors to
attack the project in just one phase. Previously, the project contained two
phases and lasted two years longer.

“As we were meeting with people on this
project, one issue coming up over and over was the cost of housing, but what
the possibility might be for Phase 2,” he said. “So, we thought it might be
best to do this in one phase. It would be better for residents and for the
project overall.”

Said Joe Corcoran, president and CEO of
Joseph J. Corcoran Company, “We’re proud to be part of a team that continues
moving forward to ensure affordable housing for residents. We believe the
redeveloped Innes Apartments will be a tremendous asset to the community and
look forward to continued work with the Chelsea Housing Authority, Innes
residents and our City, State partners through the summer.”

The single-phase approach would move the
construction timeline to approximately 18-24 months, rather than four-plus
years that was expected.

One of the keys to that is being able to put
existing residents into temporary housing while construction takes place. With
two phases, residents were going to be shifted in smaller numbers – with some
staying at Innes in existing units and those impacted by construction moving to
other developments in the city temporarily. Now, however, all of the existing
residents will have to move at once.

Ewing said they are confident they can
relocate residents, and they will be particularly conscientious of those
residents with children in the school system.

“We are committed to keeping people in
Chelsea to the degree we can,” he said. “We will continue to give priority to
families that have children in the school system. We are working with the
schools and we want to have minimal impact on our residents…Based on the number
of vacancies we have and the people living in the development…we should be able
to accommodate most, if not all of the residents.”

All residents will maintain their rights as
public housing residents during relocation, with many being relocated to
existing public housing units and some to private units – regardless of where
they are placed, relocated Innes Residents will continue to enjoy all of their
rights as public housing residents before, during and after relocation.
Corcoran has employed Housing Opportunities Unlimited – an organization that
specializes in providing direct assistance to residents impacted by renovation
and unit rehabilitation projects in affordable and mixed income housing
communities – to support the redevelopment team and Innes residents throughout
the process.

“We continue to work diligently to ensure
residents of Innes are fully informed of all updates on this exciting
redevelopment project,” said Melissa Booth, co-president of the Innes
Residents’ Association. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the improved
construction timeline that allows for faster rehousing for all our families.”

Another new component of the project is a
central parking garage facility that will be located on the eastern side of the
development near the MassPort Garage.

“We felt that would work better, and the
added bonus of that is we hope we can increase the numbers of on-site parking
spots,” said Ewing. “We’ve been trying to be responsive to the concerns of the
neighbors, the City Council and the City as a whole.”

Another new piece of the plan is that the
development team has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the City to
confirm commitments made to restrict on-street resident parking privileges for
the new, market-rate tenants of the development.

The Innes Redevelopment team is committed to
continued on-site office hours throughout the summer so that residents may
informally drop by and ask further questions. The project team will continue
its tradition of an annual backpack giveaway for residents in late August and
also hold two resident engagement events, including a youth engagement party
and an employment fair. A comprehensive Resident Relocation Plan will
also be developed and introduced as part of the continued outreach to Innes
residents.

“This newest plan
is really the result of all the concerns we’ve heard from City officials, our
residents and people in the neighborhood,” said Ewing. “We continue to address
concerns and it makes it a better project.”

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Central Avenue Development Shortens Timeline; Creates Garage

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