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
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
“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
“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.”
With National Bicycle Month underway, a new
group of cyclists and pedestrians in Chelsea are looking to create momentum and
visibility on safety issues for those that aren’t using vehicles.
The Chelsea Bike and Pedestrian Committee
has formed over the winter and got things rolling with their first community
bike ride on May 8. Now, they said they would continue those rides every Weds.
evening at 6 p.m.
Resident Asad Rahman, an avid cyclist who
commutes to Boston daily from his Broadway home, has been involved in biking safety
issues for a number of years and said he worked with City Planners to try to
get more of a community built around bicycling and walking.
While he thought it might take some time,
surprisingly the movement has grown quickly and they are already planning their
first event and several events beyond that.
“More than ever, I think Chelsea is at a
crossroads to put people and bicycles first instead of cars,” he said. “We’re a
City with five or six street lights and several thousand people and cars go
very, very fast. We hope we can shift the paradigm that people come first and
cars come second…Right now we have a passionate group of people in Chelsea, and
we’ll ride around town on May 8th for about a half-hour and then have a social
time to continue building this community.”
With the help of the City and MassBike, the
Committee is planning several events such as a Bike Repair workshops and a bike
rodeo – this coming at future City events like Fiesta Verano and the Night
The group is on Facebook at BikeWalkChelsea,
and anyone interested in joining them can show up at City Hall 6 p.m. on May 8.
The Vision for the Committee includes:
•To advance cycling and walking as leading
modes of transportation in order to promote the health, wealth, and quality of
life for Chelsea residents.
The Mission of the Committee is:
safe, interconnected, and enjoyable infrastructure in Chelsea for cycling and
walking, through strategy with the Planning and Development department,
resident education on practical use, and community engagement to build
awareness and enthusiasm.
With National Bicycle Month underway, a new group of cyclists and pedestrians in Chelsea are looking to create momentum and visibility on safety issues for those that aren’t using vehicles.
The Chelsea Bike and Pedestrian Committee has formed over the winter and is looking to get things rolling with their first community bike ride on May 8 at 6 p.m.
Resident Asad Rahman, an avid cyclist who commutes to Boston daily from his Broadway home, has been involved in biking safety issues for a number of years and said he worked with City Planners to try to get more of a community built around bicycling and walking.
While he thought it might take some time, surprisingly the movement has grown quickly and they are already planning their first event and several events beyond that.
“More than ever, I think Chelsea is at a crossroads to put people and bicycles first instead of cars,” he said. “We’re a City with five or six street lights and several thousand people and cars go very, very fast. We hope we can shift the paradigm that people come first and cars come second…Right now we have a passionate group of people in Chelsea, and we’ll ride around town on May 8thfor about a half-hour and then have a social time to continue building this community.”
With the help of the City and MassBike, the Committee is planning several events such as a Bike Repair workshops and a bike rodeo – this coming at future City events like Fiesta Verano and the Night Markets.
The group is on Facebook at BikeWalkChelsea, and anyone interested in joining them can show up at City Hall 6 p.m. on May 8.
The Vision for the Committee includes:
•To advance cycling and walking as leading modes of transportation in order to promote the health, wealth, and quality of life for Chelsea residents.
The Mission of the Committee is:
•To establish safe, interconnected, and enjoyable infrastructure in Chelsea for cycling and walking, through strategy with the Planning and Development department, resident education on practical use, and community engagement to build awareness and enthusiasm.
Councilor Luis Tejada joined the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and 50 community college trustees, municipal level officials, and state legislators from throughout the country for the NALEO National Policy Institute on Workforce Development in Los Angeles from March 29-30, 2019.
Councilor Luis Tejada.
The convening provided Luis Tejada and Latino policymakers from across the
nation with the opportunity to deepen their knowledge around current workforce
issues and discuss various approaches to strengthen their jurisdictions’
workforce development. Over two-days,
Luis Tejada addressed ways to strengthen innovative and successful workforce
development policies and best practices that drive economic success in the
labor market for their constituents, communities, and regions.
Tejada, Chelsea District 2 City Councilor,
said, “My need to be here was to learn how we can help ALL of our constituents
have a more fruitful life and provide for our families in spite of the forces,
like technology and other created future challenges, that are threatening to
hold us back.”
During the Institute, Tejada networked with
other Latino leaders, strengthened their governance skills, and exchanged
policies and ideas around effective ways to address pressing workforce
development issues. Topics addressed
during the convening included:
• Preparing Latinos for the Workforce of
Tomorrow: National Workforce Landscape
• The Engine of Change and Economic Growth:
Embracing Transformative Technology;
• Supporting the Current and Future Latino
Workforce: Turning Skills into Careers; and
• Industry Sector
Strategies: Healthcare, Advanced
Manufacturing and Service.
Much of the public discussion over the Smart
Growth overlay district for Central Avenue over the past several months has
focused on the technical aspects of the zoning ordinance.
But Monday night, as the City Council
unanimously approved the Smart Growth zoning – which will pave the way for the
Innes Development project to move closer to becoming a reality – much of the
talk focused on the human and community benefits of that decision.
As the final vote was made official, cheers
and applause were heard from Innes residents, project development team members,
and even City Planning and Development Director John DePriest.
“This will allow for new homes that all the
residents of Chelsea can be proud to call their own,” said Ronnie Slamin, the
project director for Corcoran, the developer behind the Innes Street/ Central
Avenue housing redevelopment plan.
The special zoning designation, allows the
mixed-income project to have its own, special regulations for parking and
density and other requirements. It also unlocks $5 million in state and local
funding for the project.
Corcoran Development will assist in
developing the 330-unit community on the site of the current housing
development. Those units will include the existing 96 public housing units, as
well as 40 workforce housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market
rate, and with the state and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of
the public housing units.
Overall, the development would have a 41
percent affordable ratio, which is three times as much as what would normally
be required by the City and double the state requirements.
For many of the current Innes residents, and
for members of the Chelsea Housing Authority, it is a major step forward to
replace the current units, which are rundown and decades old.
“It is our dream to live in new apartments
that are safe and decent for our children, elderly, and the disabled,” said
Melissa Booth, co-president of the Innes Residents Association.
The Smart Growth overlay district will cover
the current footprint of the Innes Development, and puts a premium on
affordable housing and access to public transportation.
Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) board member
Bertram Taverna said the Innes redevelopment is the kind of opportunity that
the City has not seen for decades.
“We are talking about an opportunity for
these 96 families, as well as 40 more affordable housing units,” said Taverna.
“Everybody is invested in this project and wholeheartedly all in.”
CHA Executive Director Al Ewing said the
redevelopment will give the city the ability to deliver on its promise of
providing a home where residents can be proud to live and raise their families.
“This is a win for the City of Chelsea,”
said District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown. “Folks are going to see that
Chelsea can do this and other cities are going to do this.”
Council President Damali Vidot said it’s
been a long road for the Innes project to move forward. The Council voted down
a project three years ago because prevailing wages for workers wasn’t on the
With prevailing wages now part of the
development proposal, the only major issue that gained any traction over the
past several months was, unsurprisingly, parking.
While the smart growth zoning is one major
step towards getting shovels in the ground for the project, developers will be
back before the Council for approval of a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) tax
break for the project. That is expected to come before the Council later in the
Vidot said that parking will be addressed in
proposing 226 on-site parking spots, with an option to lease another 50 parking
The Innes Street/Central Avenue housing
redevelopment plan has cleared its latest hurdle with the Planning Board, but
will face a critical vote Monday night at Council on whether or not to allow
them to have a ‘40R’ zoning designation.
The Council will consider the special zoning
designation, which allows the mixed-income project to have its own, special
regulations for parking and density and other requirements. At the same time,
it also unlocks $5 million in state and local funding.
“It’s a critical vote,” said Chelsea Housing
Authority (CHA) Director Al Ewing. “That is a very important ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If
we don’t get it, this project dies. It is our use it or lose it moment.”
The mixed-income development is in
partnership with Corcoran Development, which will assist in developing the
330-unit community on the site of the current housing development. Those units
will include the existing 96 public housing units, as well as 40 workforce
housing units. The remaining 194 units will be market rate, and with the state
and federal grants, will subsidize the replacement of the public housing units.
Overall, the development would have a 41 percent affordable ratio, which is
three times as much as what would normally be required by the City and double
the state requirements.
It seems like a huge moment for residents
like Jean Fulco, who is part of the Innes Residents Alliance (IRA).
“This will be a much better situation for
the people who are there now,” she said. “The re-development would be so much
better because the apartment conditions now are not very good.”
Resident Melissa Booth, also of the IRA,
said she has a special needs child who cannot walk up the stairs, but they live
on the second floor now.
“I usually have to carry my child up the
stairs because there isn’t an elevator,” she said.
The new development is slated to have an
But one of the strangleholds in this second
go-around of the mixed-income redevelopment – which had to be backed off two
years ago – is parking. There are 226 spaces available on site, and another 50
spaces will be located off-site nearby.
Council President Damali Vidot said she does
support the project, but she also lives in the area and understands that
parking is already a mess. She said they have worked out a potential plan where
the market rate units will not be able to apply for a residential parking
“Everyone says that these people who will
live here will take the Silver Line and not have a car,” she said. “Let’s see
them prove that. I’m ok with giving them the 40R so they can move forward, but
when their Tax Incremental Financing comes up, I will let them know that I will
not support the project unless they will enter into an agreement with the
market rate tenants to not participate in the residential parking program.”
She said the decision is a tough one for the
Council. While many have reservations, they also want to help the public
housing residents improve their lives.
“I’m not in love with the project, but I
know everyone is trying to do their best,” she said. “These 96 families deserve
to live in dignity. I have family that lives there and no one should live in
those conditions…If this is what I have to do to preserve the units for these
96 families, then we don’t have a choice really.”
Over the last several weeks, the IRA and the
CHA and Corcoran have been pounding the pavement. They have had coffee hours,
done personal outreach and have launched a website.
“We are in a competitive process and if this
doesn’t get approved for whatever reason, Chelsea will not realize this
opportunity,” said Sean McReynolds of Corcoran.
Chelsea Collaborative staff members are busy
helping residents prepare for rewarding career opportunities at Encore Boston
Harbor, slated to open in Everett this June. Encore Boston Harbor, the
first five-star urban gaming resort in the U.S, plans to hire over 5,000
workers for a range of rewarding hospitality careers. For more information,
More than 175 career-seekers participated in
workshops in recent weeks alone on resume writing and how to create a
Skillsmart profile. Skillsmart is a portal that helps match peoples’ interests
with positions at Encore Boston Harbor. “We are proud to create pathways
to better paying positions, so our residents can achieve better economic
mobility, and don’t have to work two jobs just to make ends meet for them and
their families,” said Sylvia Ramirez, Workforce Development Manager at Chelsea
Chelsea Collaborative is part of Encore
Boston Harbor’s community action network. Encore Boston Harbor is
committing $10 million over the next four years to support a wide range of
social programs and civic institutions that will help those in need and improve
the lives of residents in local communities.
Collaborative is leading the Chelsea 500 coalition, which mission is to engage
the City, businesses, and local non-profits to create a workforce pipeline so
that 500+ residents can gain the skills and support necessary to apply for
positions at Encore Boston Harbor. While Chelsea 500 capitalizes on the
casino opening, its longer- term ambition is to build local workforce
development capacity to improve Chelsea residents’ odds of securing employment
in the near term, and to work with industry leaders to help diversify the
employment options. Members of the coalition include City of
Chelsea, Chelsea Collaborative, TND/Connect, Chelsea Housing
Authority, Chelsea Recreation and Cultural Affairs Division, Bunker
Hill Community College, Casino Action Network.
Fresh off of a new contract, City Manager
Tom Ambrosino gave an enthusiastic opening to Monday’s Council meeting during
his State of the City Address, where he talked about Chelsea’s accomplishments
in 2018 as well as its goals for 2019.
“I feel confident in saying that the state
of our City of Chelsea is very good indeed,” he started.
Among the achievements of the past year,
Ambrosino noted that the City ended 2018 with an excess of $28 million in its
“There’s not another city our size in the
entire Commonwealth with that level of reserve,” he said. “That is a testament
to the shrewd financial planning of City Council.”
In 2018, Chelsea was also one of only 35
cities in the country to be awarded a Bloomberg Challenge grant for its vision
to reduce crime with preventative care.
“Because of that award, our model of
predicting harm and then engaging in cross-sector collaboration to address the
harm got national attention,” said Ambrosino. “It’s gaining interest and it has
people seeking to replicate that, not just in Massachusetts, but outside as
Ambrosino cited the City’s increased
development in 2018, such as the construction of two new hotels and the
multi-million dollar expansion of a pharmaceutical company. He also mentioned
the $10 million grant by the state to reconstruct Broadway from City Hall to
the Revere Line, as well as a $3 million federal Economic Development Administration (EDA)
grant to renovate Chelsea’s waterfront, one of the largest grants given by the
EDA to any municipality in the country in 2018, and one of the only grants
issued in Massachusetts.
“We kept our promises to our residents in
2018 by doing good services,” Ambrosino reflected. “I think we can achieve the
same level of success in 2019 if we have the same level of collaboration from
In terms of goals for 2019, Ambrosino
highlighted the effort to renovate the downtown Chelsea area, building on the
foundational work done in 2018.
“We added police, social services, more lighting,
decorative banners, public art,” he said. “We’ve created an atmosphere and
foundation for success, so what we need to do now is finalize the work that
Ambrosino outlined four areas of improvement
for downtown Chelsea: finalizing the design for the infrastructure improvements
for one-way schemes, adopting the necessary zoning permissions to improve the
facade of the corridor, offering a rich array of cultural and artistic
activities, and submitting a request for proposal (RFP) for the redevelopment
of the former Salvation Army site.
The City Manager threw his support behind
the Forbes Proposal, which is up before
the City Board of Appeals next month for the redevelopment of the Chelsea
waterfront, claiming that it will include affordable condominiums for Chelsea
residents looking to become homeowners.
Ambrosino also mentioned the planned
infrastructure and capital improvements for 2019, including work to the Chelsea
Greenway, the Chelsea Garden Cemetery and Veterans’ Field. This would all be in
the context of a master plan, the first of its kind in Chelsea since the 1970s.
The City Manager emphasized the importance
of investing in affordable housing as well as in education, specifically for
grants to allow high-achieving, low-income high school students in Chelsea to
attend Bunker Hill Community College free of charge.
“This idea of public funding for education
beyond just high school is gaining momentum in this nation,” he said. “We can
feel a sense a pride that Chelsea is in the forefront of that movement.”
Manager’s State of the City address can be viewed on the Chelsea Community
Cable’s YouTube channel here: youtu.be/lRVWajXR44w.
The Suffolk County Land Court has remanded
the controversial Zoning Board affordable housing denial on Broadway back to
the Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) with a revised plan.
The combination of The Neighborhood
Developers (TND) and Traggorth Development went before the ZBA last year with a
project slated for 1005 Broadway – a mostly affordable housing development.
However, shockingly for many, it was denied in a close vote as community
members called for a revised project with more home ownership opportunities.
The developers appealed that denial, and now
Land Court has sent a revised plan back to the ZBA for consideration next
“The Traggorth Companies and The
Neighborhood Developers have settled our appeal of the ZBA’s decision to deny a
special permit for our proposed project at 1005 Broadway,” said TND Project
Manager Steve Laferriere. “The terms of Settlement revised the initial proposal
based on feedback from the ZBA, and allow us to have new public hearings in
front of the ZBA and Planning Board. We are excited that the revised project
remains a great opportunity to create 38 affordable apartments for Chelsea
families and provide publicly accessible open space adjacent to Mill Creek.”
The new proposal has eliminated the
commercial component, reduced the height on Broadway from five- to
four-stories. The unit count is also down from 42 to 38. This time, all 38
units will be affordable apartments for rent.
City Attorney Cheryl Fisher Watson said the
developers and ZBA placed the matter on hold during the appeal.
“It is the Parties hope that a revised
petition is considered by the ZBA with a public process,” she said. “The ZBA
wants public input as to all decisions if possible.”
City Manager Tom
Ambrosino said he would be supporting the revised project.
The pieces continue to fall in place for the
proposed 330-unit mixed-income redevelopment of the Innes Housing Development
on Central Avenue.
Tuesday night, the City Council held a
public meeting with state officials and developers on the 40R Smart Growth
overlay zoning that the council will need to approve before the City can become
eligible for at least $11 million in state funding for the project.
In addition, with passage of the 40R zoning,
Chelsea could receive a little over an additional $1 million from the state’s
Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).
About half of that money would go to
Corcoran Development, which has partnered with the Chelsea Housing Authority
(CHA) to redevelop the Innes Housing Development in two phases. The 96 public
housing units will be re-developed with 40 middle-income (80 to 120 percent of
the AMI) units and 194 market rate units. The project will go in two phases to
reduce relocation of residents.
“We’re having this meeting so we can have
more understanding about the 40R zoning amendment for smart growth,” said
Judith Garcia, the District 5 Councillor.
The Planning Board is expected to make a
recommendation on the smart growth zoning at its next meeting Tuesday night,
clearing the way for a final City Council vote.
The basic requirements for a 40R district
are an eligible location preferably in a city or town center, near public
transportation, and allowing minimum by-right density of eight single-family
units, twelve 2-3 family units, and 20 multi-family units per acre, according
to William Reyelt of the DHCD.
“It has to be primarily a residential
district, but we do encourage mixed-use development,” said Reyelt.
In addition, age restrictions cannot be
required in the smart growth districts, and 20 percent of the total units must be
affordable, he said.
Once the zoning is approved by the city and
then verified by the state, the city will get its first incentive payment from
the state, Reyelt said. With smart growth zoning, communities are also eligible
for additional density bonuses and school reimbursement payments.
Currently, there are 47 smart growth
districts in 41 communities across the state, Reyelt said.
Unsurprisingly, parking was the biggest area
of concern raised by City Councilors during the question and answer portion of
Tuesday night’s presentation, although there are no specific parking
requirements or regulations built into the 40R zoning.
“The project is great, but not at the
expense of the citizens in the area,” said Council President Damali Vidot. “We
need to have a very serious conversation about it.”
There will be 276 parking spaces on site,
and the developer has said they are willing to do traffic and parking studies
to perhaps help the overall neighborhood with street parking. Initially, the
developers proposed 226 spaces, but Ronnie Slammin of Corcoran said an
additional 50 spaces are now in the plans.
The current CHA residents are eligible for
street parking permits, and will continue to be able to park at the redeveloped
Innes housing for free as part of the CHA’s 99-year lease with Corcoran.
But several councilors said they still had
concerns about how parking would impact the neighborhood.
“Before the Council moves forward, that will
definitely have to be on the table,” said District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown.
District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said he
wants to make sure the current CHA residents are allowed to park on-site and
not forced on the street for parking.
District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez said he
wanted assurances that the 96 public housing units would remain under CHA
“Those 96 units
will always be filled by public housing tenants,” said CHA Director Al Ewing