CHA Voted to Choose Corcoran for Possible Redevelopment Funding

By Seth Daniel

The Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) chose an experienced public housing re-development firm this month to partner with in hopes of getting competitive state funds that would allow the CHA to completely re-build the Innes Development on Central Avenue.

The CHA voted to go with the Joseph Corcoran Company as it’s partner in seeking funding for the redevelopment of mixed-income housing at the site. The CHA did not choose a local partnership between The Neighborhood Developers (TND) and the Beacon Companies.

Corcoran is known for having redeveloped Columbia Point in Dorchester into mixed-income housing and was chosen last year by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) to redevelop the Bunker Hill Housing Development in Charlestown into mixed-income housing.

“We’re fortunate to have had two good proposals,” said CHA Director Al Ewing. “You had TND with the Beacon Companies and the Corcoran Company. We could only go with one and we went with the one we felt best addressed the requirements of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. We chose Corcoran because we felt we had a proposal from them that had a very good chance of being funded by [the state].”

The key wording in all of that is a proposal funded by the state. So far, the CHA is in a very preliminary stage of the process and the whole effort could be for not if the state does not award them the nearly $5 million grant for the NOFA.

Earlier this year, the CHA announced that it planned to look at engaging in a public-private partnership with a developer to rebuild the Innes Development on Central Avenue into a brand new mixed-income development that would add market rate units and keep every unit of public housing.

By choosing Corcoran, Ewing said they have simply settled on a partner to seek funding with. If the state were to pass over the project, the idea would not be pursued any further.

“This is a good potential redevelopment project for our residents, but it is only a potential right now,” Ewing said. “Residents will be engaged immediately if we get the funding from the state. While we have preliminary ideas that were designed just for the purpose of entering the process, if we are funded, our first step will be to engage the residents, neighbors, and the greater community in regards to our plans.”

Corcoran has proposed a $100 million development of the Innes, most of which would be privately funded.

They would put a total of 318 units of mixed income housing, and would retain all 96 public housing units that currently exist – and they would be in their current configurations (42 two-bedrooms, 48 three-bedrooms, and 6 four-bedrooms) but would be brand new units in the overall development. The public housing units would be mixed in with the market rate units and now separated out.

There would be 222 market rate units.

The housing units would be situated in four, six-story buildings – all new construction – with surface and below-grade parking, a community clubhouse, a fitness center and retail space.

Corcoran said it would privately fund 80 percent of the project with private equity and mortgage debt. The $4.8 million DHCD funding and a $3 million MassWorks grant would supplement that.

Ewing said he would negotiate a 99-year ground lease to preserve the public housing if the state funds the CHA proposals. He said if the project is funded, residents would be relocated temporarily and would have the ability to return to the new units.

Ewing said such partnerships are the only way to find the capital to rebuild old public housing developments, as the state and federal government simply don’t have the money.

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