WinnCompanies and the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) announced that work will begin in 2024 on the $2 billion redevelopment of the Mary Ellen McCormack public housing complex under a two-phase master plan to build 3,300 mixed-income apartments on the 30-acre site, including the replacement of all 1,016 public housing units with a guaranteed right to return for current residents.
The announcement follows Thursday night’s approval by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) of the Phase One Development Plan for the South Boston property, which was the first public housing community in New England.
The BPDA vote capped two-and-a-half years of design review by the City of Boston and clears the way for final permitting of the massive, historically significant project. It will be the largest development project in WinnCompanies’ 52-year history.
Under the $776 million Phase One plan ratified by the BPDA, 1,310 apartments will be created in eight new residential buildings that will be built over the course of eight years, replacing 529 obsolete apartments for BHA households and creating 781 new apartment homes for middle income and market rate renters. All eight of the Phase One apartment buildings will be high-performance, fully electric and built to Passive House standards, the most rigorous energy sustainability requirements in residential development. All will be ready for future solar energy installations.
In addition, WinnCompanies will spend $110 million on public infrastructure improvements to better connect Mary Ellen McCormack with the surrounding neighborhood through a revamped street grid, new utilities and parks, and long-term climate resiliency measures.
In partnership with the YMCA of Greater Boston, WinnCompanies and the Mary Ellen McCormack Tenant Task Force will also begin coordinating unprecedented programs and supportive services for residents, offering early education and after-school programs, healthcare services, workforce development and senior home care.
Built during the Great Depression and opened in 1938, the community consists of 22 three-story, brick buildings and 152 direct-entry row houses. In addition to being physically isolated from the surrounding neighborhood, the apartments fall well short of modern standards, with no handicapped accessibility, no in-unit or common laundry facilities, no amenities, and inadequate infrastructure and security.
Under the revitalization plan, new residential buildings will be built, and existing buildings will be demolished, in phases as part of a complex relocation strategy choreographed to allow as many of the existing households as possible to move directly into new apartments.
Overall, Phase One construction will redevelop 18 acres of the Mary Ellen McCormack property, increasing open space by 73 percent with new pedestrian walking paths, separate bike infrastructure and gathering spaces. In addition, 33,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space will be created for local small businesses, including a grocery retailer. Twenty-five (25) percent of retail space will be offered at below-market leases.
Work could begin as early as June 2024, assuming permitting and regulatory approvals. WinnCompanies was named developer of the project by the BHA and the Tenant Task Force in August 2017 following a competitive proposal process. It submitted its plan to the BPDA in June 2021 after three years and thousands of hours of engagement with the complex’s more than 2,000 residents about their needs and vision for the redevelopment, using hybrid and multilingual tools to reach historically excluded community voices.