This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 12/6/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

BHA sets $13m for units in S. Boston
By Scott S. Greenberger, Globe Staff, 12/6/2002

Removing a blight on the South Boston landscape that is more than a decade old, the Boston Housing Authority will use $13 million in state money to raze five boarded-up buildings at its West Broadway development and replace them with 133 new apartments.

The $13 million, combined with a roughly equal amount of private money the BHA will raise by issuing its own bonds, will finally eliminate an eyesore that did more than offend people's aesthetic sensibilities: Many South Boston residents feared that high-rent apartments might eventually replace the public housing on the roughly five-acre site, pricing out locals.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who pledged to refurbish 1,100 vacant BHA units in a three-year affordable housing strategy he unveiled two years ago, said the state money will help further that goal. Two years ago, roughly 10 percent of BHA units were vacant. With the new West Broadway apartments, only about 400 apartments, or about 4 percent, will be vacant.

''Any time you can produce affordable housing in the city, it's a big win for the people who live here,'' Menino said.

Laura Bradeen, executive director of the tenant task force at West Broadway, said residents are happy that the BHA is finally getting rid of the last of the boarded-up buildings. Two others were cleared to make way for a new social services center that opened two months ago. But she said residents have some concerns: Though the new units are public housing, they will be managed privately. And they fear that the BHA will choose tenants who are toward the upper end of the public-housing income limits in order to make the project financially feasible, effectively shutting out many current West Broadway residents.

''I'm very glad that they're going to do something with them, but there are a variety of concerns about the way they've come about,'' Bradeen said.

BHA administrator Sandra Henriquez said that she has assured the West Broadway community that some current residents will qualify for the new apartments.

The buildings were boarded up more than a decade ago because the BHA didn't have enough money to keep the dilapidated apartments habitable. Two years ago, the agency announced publicly that it wanted to demolish the buildings and construct new apartments. But it has taken until now to find the money.

The state money comes from a $350 million bond bill the Legislature passed in June.

The BHA received $58 million from the bond bill to pay for projects at state-funded developments. Among other projects, the agency will spend nearly $27 million for kitchen and bath work at its Gallivan Boulevard (Dorchester), Orient Heights (East Boston), and Archdale (Roslindale) developments; $4.5 million on the ventilation systems at Gallivan and the South Street (Jamaica Plain) development, and $3 million for roof work at its Faneuil development (Allston/Brighton).

BHA officials were elated at the $58 millon figure, since the agency got only $21 million in 1998, the last time the Legislature passed a housing bond bill.

''The money for West Broadway is just wonderful,'' Henriquez said. ''It really means we can get the development done and finish off the whole corridor to the new convention center.''

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 12/6/2002.

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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