City seeks private partner to rebuild former Bromley-Heath complex

The Boston Globe | By Evan Allen and Felicia Gans
February 23, 2017

The roofs leak, the elevators malfunction, and the heating system is old. Tenants of the Mildred C. Hailey Apartments complain about people sleeping in the hallways or doing drugs, and sometimes they find used needles scattered about.

But there is no federal money to repair or rebuild the Jamaica Plain housing development’s 804 units of federally subsidized public housing, Boston Housing Authority officials say. So on Wednesday, the authority announced it is seeking proposals from private developers to tear down and rebuild a portion of the complex: six dilapidated buildings on Centre Street, Parker Street, and Lamartine Street.

The residents of the 232 subsidized units in those buildings would get apartments in the new buildings — without rent hikes. But they would also get new neighbors: In exchange for razing the tired old buildings, the developer would be allowed to build units that could be rented by anyone at the prevailing market rate.

The announcement marked another turning point for the Hailey Apartments, long known as Bromley-Heath and once regarded as among the city’s most neglected, notorious developments — until tenants took it upon themselves to lead a revival.

“What would happen, if we don’t do something bold like this, is those buildings . . . would continue to deteriorate,” said Boston Housing Authority administrator Bill McGonagle. “They would slowly but surely end up vacant and boarded up, and we would lose the 232 units of affordable housing — perhaps forever.”

The request for proposals sent out Wednesday is the first phase of a years-long project that housing officials hope will result in the redevelopment of the entire apartment complex. A similar project is underway at the Bunker Hill Housing Development in Charlestown, and another request for proposals is expected to go out next week for the Mary Ellen McCormack developments in South Boston.

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