Development Boom’s Benefit to Boston Residents

img_6120By Chris Tracy

With new development often comes neighborhood concern. Any project that adds more density, residential units and vehicular traffic to streets can cause anxiety and fear of what’s to come from new development. Boston is no stranger to these challenges; Bostonians love their unique neighborhoods and the quaintness that each individual neighborhood has to itself.

During the past few years, Boston has undergone tremendous growth, not only in the downtown and urban core but in every neighborhood in the City (Read about Boston’s Building Boom).  At some point in the development process, every project encounters residents who care deeply about their communities and are concerned with how their community might change. Some residents view new development as only catered to a future resident, with no benefit to existing residents. This is why the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) and City of Boston staff often are met with the question from current residents: “How does this benefit me?”

Two recent Boston Globe articles (“Boston Reaps Tax Windfall from New Construction” and “Average Boston-Area Rent Falls for the First Time in Almost 7 Years”) have addressed how building new units and adding residents to the tax base can actually be a positive thing for current residents. In addition to softening tax bills for homeowners and lowering rents for renters, the new development and added tax base generates additional revenues for City services.

Every project will have supporters and detractors and messaging is central to both sides. Change is not always bad, and often times can have a tangible benefit to those who at first glance may not like the change being discussed.

To learn more about our community relations services visit our website www.oneillandassoc.com or call us at 617-646-1000.

Community Relations for Boston’s Building Boom

img_6120By: Chris Tracy

Boston is in the midst of what will be the biggest building boom in the City’s history, bypassing both the infilling of the Back Bay in the late 1800’s and the construction of the Prudential, John Hancock and other high spine buildings in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Large-scale real estate development through the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA)’s Article 80 process is touching not only downtown and the urban core, but every neighborhood in the City of Boston.

Boston’s population is rising exponentially due to a multitude of factors – so-called meds and eds (hospitals and universities) are as strong as ever but there is also a rapidly expanding business community moving to Boston. General Electric is the most high profile example, but there is also New Balance, Converse and Adidas. Biotech companies are moving across the river from Cambridge and Somerville as well – creating a good problem: Where are all these new residents going to live and what does the city need to do to house them?

Enter Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s ambitious goal to create 53,000 new units of housing in the city by the year 2030. Currently, Boston is the third most expensive city to live in the country behind New York and San Francisco. The supply and demand of housing is out of balance; many people want to live here but the existing housing stock is low, which drives up the prices of existing housing.

Mayor Walsh’s Administration and BPDA are aiming to create housing across all income levels to help balance out this supply and demand problem. Low, middle and high income housing is seen as a solution to level off high housing costs and not create situation, like in San Francisco, where people are being priced out. Boston is working to stay in front of these challenges so that there is enough housing to for all future residents that want to make Boston their home.

Sometimes developers and project proponents can find the approval process at the BPDA board and City’s Zoning Board of Appeals or Zoning Commission arduous and frustrating. Additionally, many long term Boston residents have been resistant to the changes presented by new development and to the changes these projects bring to neighborhoods. O’Neill and Associates works with clients to navigate the complex, strenuous process of seeking city approvals. We work closely with clients and stakeholders to establish realistic expectations around projects and manage these expectations while always advocating for smart, tasteful, sensitive and appropriate development. The Article 80 process is community driven. Concessions may be appropriate at times in order to meet opposition halfway, but the goal always remains to get shovels in the ground on suitable, positive projects that benefit the current and future residents of Boston.

To learn more about our community relations services visit our website www.oneillandassoc.com or call us at 617-646-1000.

Welcome Chris Tracy!

img_6120This month O’Neill and Associates welcomes Chris Tracy to our community relations practice. As Senior Director, Chris will provide real estate development clients with valuable counsel on a variety of issues including community outreach, municipal relations, permitting, zoning, regulatory advocacy, and licensing. He has extensive experience working with communities and developers in the City of Boston and surrounding cities and towns. Chris knows how to identify key community stakeholders while also helping clients streamline the at-times arduous approval process by cutting through red tape and bureaucracy

Chris previously served as a senior project manager for the Boston Planning and Development Authority (BPDA), formerly known as the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), where he managed internal and external vetting processes for large-scale real estate commercial and residential development project throughout the City of Boston. His experience working across multi-agency issues concerning proposed developments and his collaboration with agencies to alleviate project concerns position him as an expert for our community relations and government affairs practice.

Chris earned his master’s in public administration from Northeastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Boston College. To learn more about Chris visit Our Team page.

Massport Holds Ribbon Cutting for Dog Park in South Boston

massport-dog-park1

The Massachusetts Port Authority today held a ribbon cutting for its new Dog Park in South Boston. The quarter-acre, fenced-in dog park features agility equipment, benches, and a pet fountain. The Dog Park is a segment of the larger Thomas J. Butler Freight Corridor and Memorial Park on East First Street. The haul road has improved the quality of life of the neighborhood by redirecting trucks away from the neighborhood streets and subsequently improving operations at Conley Terminal.  In addition to the dog park there are walking paths, trees, a water fountain and a memorial dedicated to Butler.  Tommy Butler worked for Massport for 25 years as its community relations director and was a lifelong resident of South Boston.  In attendance at the Dog Park opening was Massport CEO Tom Glynn, Mayor Marty Walsh, Congressman Stephen Lynch and numerous city and South Boston representatives.

Corcoran-SunCal Submits Expanded Project Notification Form (PNF) for Redevelopment of the Bunker Hill Public Housing Community

OneCharlestown

Formally begins BRA review for “One Charlestown”

CHARLESTOWN – September 30, 2016 – Corcoran-SunCal, in partnership with the Boston Housing Authority, has filed an Environmental Notification Form and Expanded Project Notification Form with state officials and the Boston Redevelopment Authority for design and construction of the redevelopment of the Bunker Hill Public Housing community, known as One Charlestown.

“We are excited to begin the review process with the Boston Redevelopment Authority,” said Joseph Corcoran, President of Corcoran Jennison Associates. “For months, we have worked with residents and neighbors of the Bunker Hill Apartments to create a truly special vision for One Charlestown. Now the BRA will have a chance to consider our proposal and collect feedback from the wider Boston community. Our hope is they will recognize what a tremendous opportunity One Charlestown represents, not just for current residents but the entire neighborhood.”

In addition to the Project Notification Form filed with the BRA, Corcoran-SunCal also filed a comprehensive Environmental Notification Form with the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs – as part of the agency’s Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review process.

One Charlestown comprises a new mixed-income community that will replace all of the existing public housing on a one-for-one basis, as well as add market-rate housing to attract new residents and revitalize the neighborhood. The 27.6 acre site will consist of 13 blocks of well-lit, tree-lined city streets that will be fully integrated into the Charlestown neighborhood. The plan calls for approximately 3,200 units altogether, replacing all 1,100 current units of public housing and adding 2,100 units of market-rate, rental, and for sale housing. All current residents will have the right to return to the new development.

An important feature of the mixed-income model at One Charlestown is the resident partnership that Corcoran-SunCal will establish with the current residents, represented by the Charlestown Tenant Task Force. This partnership is modeled after the successful collaboration between residents, developer and management at Harbor Point on the Bay in Dorchester, another former federal housing project that was redeveloped into a mixed-income community by Corcoran Jennison. The partnership will bring One Charlestown residents to the table on a host of issues related to the governance and management of the community. It will also provide a valuable feedback mechanism for residents, ensuring all voices are heard not just during the initial development phase, but also throughout the life of the property.

“The One Charlestown model – a robust partnership with residents combined with the introduction of mixed income units – is the single best way for public housing to be preserved across the entire City of Boston,” said Boston Housing Authority Administrator Bill McGonagle.

The project will create new mixed-use buildings and a street network that restores connections between a diverse community and the rest of the neighborhood. All units at One Charlestown will include finishes, features, and amenities that are typical of new, quality housing in Boston. The community will include new retail opportunities along Bunker Hill Street, open spaces and courtyards, brightly-lit walkways and underground parking, in addition to community services so that residents may enjoy a vibrant, healthy and more sustainable living experience in Charlestown.

Click here, for a rendering of the One Charlestown project design.


About Corcoran-SunCal
Corcoran-SunCal is a partnership between Corcoran Jennison Associates and SunCal. Together, they are focused on the concept that mixed-income communities offer the richest social context for all their residents, creating a sustainable and safe environment for everyone while also offering the best opportunities for advancement for their low income population. This new partnership is providing a new model for the redevelopment and repositioning of public housing in the United States.

About the Boston Housing Authority
The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) is a public agency that provides subsidized housing to low and moderate income individuals and families. In addition to conventional public housing communities throughout Boston, BHA offers rental assistance programs. BHA receives federal and state funding in order to provide housing programs to individuals and families. BHA’s mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.

 

CORCORAN-SUNCAL LAUNCHES WEBSITE FOR ‘ONE CHARLESTOWN’

 

OneCharlestown

OneCharlestown.com will continue to inform the public and engage community residents

CHARLESTOWN – July 20, 2016 – Corcoran-SunCal, in partnership with the Boston Housing Authority, today announced the launch of its website for ‘One Charlestown’ – the redevelopment of the Bunker Hill Public Housing Development. OneCharlestown.com includes design and planning information, a review of the public engagement process and partnership with the Resident Working Group, as well as images and schematics of the historic project.

“We have strived for transparency and a deep level of public engagement since this process began,” said Joseph Corcoran, President of Corcoran Jennison Associates. “OneCharlestown.com was the next natural step for us as we continue to seek out feedback from the community and educate the public about our project. We believe that One Charlestown will re-envision the future of the Bunker Hill Public Housing Development and we are excited for what lies ahead.”

Over the past seven months, Corcoran-SunCal and the BHA have worked with residents of the Bunker Hill Public Housing Development to establish a Resident Working Group that has assisted in the initial design and planning of One Charlestown. Members of the Resident Working Group met regularly in late 2015 and early this year, sharing their priorities, values, and hopes for the redevelopment project. Additionally, feedback and input was solicited from neighbors and residents of the Charlestown community. The design process culminated in an Open House that was open to the community, featuring design plans for the project. The Resident Working Group’s involvement in the planning and design charrette, as well as the feedback from the community, assisted the planning team in their efforts. The project design reflects the comments and input from residents, neighbors, and community members.

“We support the efforts of the Corcoran-SunCal team to engage residents and surrounding community stakeholders in the planning and design process from the beginning,” said Boston Housing Authority Administrator Bill McGonagle. “OneCharlestown.com will allow for this ongoing dialogue to continue while also informing the broader community about the redevelopment efforts taking place.”

All units at One Charlestown will include finishes, features, and amenities that are typical of quality new housing in Boston: open spaces and courtyards, community gardens, brightly-lit walkways and underground parking, in addition to community services so that residents may enjoy a vibrant, healthy and more sustainable living experience in Charlestown. Affordable housing will be preserved for current residents while also attracting new residents and revitalizing the neighborhood. The current plan calls for approximately 3,200 units altogether, replacing all 1,100 current units of public housing and adding 2,100 additional units. All current residents will have the right to return to the new development.


About Corcoran-SunCal

Corcoran-SunCal is a partnership between Corcoran Jennison Associates and SunCal. Together, they are focused on the concept that mixed-income communities offer the richest social context for all their residents, creating a sustainable and safe environment for everyone while also offering the best opportunities for advancement for their low income population. This new partnership is providing a new model for the redevelopment and re-positioning of public housing in the United States.

 About the Boston Housing Authority

The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) is a public agency that provides subsidized housing to low and moderate income individuals and families. In addition to conventional public housing communities throughout Boston, BHA offers rental assistance programs. BHA receives federal and state funding in order to provide housing programs to individuals and families. BHA’s mission is to provide stable, quality affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; to deliver these services with integrity and mutual accountability; and to create living environments which serve as catalysts for the transformation from dependency to economic self-sufficiency.

 

 

Total Wine & More Opens Its Newest Store in Everett, Partners with Project Bread for Opening Weekend

On Wednesday, May 11, Total Wine & More, the nation’s largest independently owned retailer of fine wine, spirit and beer, opened its second store in Massachusetts at 11 Mystic View Road in Everett.  The Everett store, located in Gateway Center, is over 20,000 sq. ft. and offers more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 beers.  The company opened its first Massachusetts store in Natick in November 2015.

Take a look to see what the “more” in Total Wine & More really meant during opening weekend!

To celebrate the Everett store’s grand opening, Total Wine & More has partnered with its first Greater Boston nonprofit organization, Project Bread. As part of the partnership, Project Bread will receive 10 percent of all wine sales from the store’s opening weekend. Over the past year, Total Wine & More has supported more than 8,000 charitable organizations nationally with in-kind and cash donations in excess of $6 million which helped those organizations raise over $40 million for their good works.

TW&M Everett

Pictured here (L to R): State Rep. Joe McGonagle, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, Former Lt. Governor Thomas P. O’Neill III, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Total Wine & More Everett Store Manager Chris Pinnix, Project Bread Senior Development Manager Eric Si, Everett Chamber of Commerce President Ed Cafasso

Total Wine & More will feature the area’s most comprehensive and unique shopping experience for consumers looking for the highest quality and best value in wines, spirits and beers – as well as a level of expertise and service unique to Total Wine & More.

“We are excited to expand our brand and become part of the community here in Everett,” said Kevin Peters, Total Wine & More’s CEO. “As a company, we pride ourselves on best serving our community with a vast selection and unrivaled customer service.  We also know the importance of investing in the communities around us, which is why we are proud to partner with Project Bread to support those in need.”

The store supports over 50 new jobs, with 75 percent of the store’s positions being full-time.  Store team members are the best trained in the business, taking 150 hours of classroom and practical training prior to beginning work. The also participate in ongoing training, including yearly company-sponsored trips to Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California and to vineyards in Spain and France every other year.

The Everett store also features a climate-controlled wine cellar for high-end wines and rare selections plus a walk-in humidor for fine cigars.  Additionally, the Everett store has a high tech “wine education center” classroom that is fully equipped with A/V capabilities, Wi-Fi and advanced technologies that allows the store team to offer in-store wine, beer and spirits classes as well as community meetings and special events.  Total Wine & More uses the classroom to host “virtual tastings” that, through the use of technology, allow the world’s finest winemakers, distillers and brewers to interactively educate customers and conduct tastings  – live from their wineries, distilleries and breweries – with customers in Total Wine classrooms in Everett and around the country.  Over the past year, Total Wine & More has hosted winemakers Chuck Wagner of Caymus and France’s Michel Chapoutier live from their cellars as well as Crystal Head Vodka’s Dan Aykroyd and the chief brewmasters from Stone Brewing.


About Total Wine & More

Total Wine & More is America’s largest America’s largest independent retailer of fine wine, beer and spirits with 150 stores in 18 states by year’s end.  A four-time national retailer of the year award winner, the company’s vast selection of products, combined with low everyday prices and expertly trained wine associates, provides a unique shopping experience for the customer. Since opening its first store in 1991, Total Wine & More has been committed to being the premier wine, beer and spirits retailer in every community that it serves. For more information about Total Wine & More please visit http://www.totalwine.com.

 

 

Gaining Votes and Gaining Voice: Tips from the Campaign Trail for PR Professionals

By Mike Sherry

Michael Sherry CroppedElection season is in full swing and in local, state, and national races across the country, political races are experimenting with the best ways to promote causes and candidates. As a result, the best public relations strategies are borrowing heavily from the inventive, creative, and think-on-your-feet nature of political campaigns. Like campaign consultants, PR professionals are constantly working to get their client’s message across and accomplish their goals. That’s why campaign tools will always have a role to play in public relations. Here are three ways a sound PR initiative can mimic a political campaign:

Know Your Audience: Campaign professionals are skilled at dividing people into specific audience segments, which enables them to use different tools and messages where they’re most effective. For example, a City Council campaign might target only those voters who have a record of voting in local elections, thereby avoiding the expense of mailing information to households unlikely to turn out on Election Day. Effective PR should do the same thing. Any PR plan that applies a “one size fits all” approach to broadcasting its message is limiting its effectiveness.

Make Use of Events: If a PR consultant and their computer were to vanish, would the message still be heard? If the answer to that question is no, it is time to consider borrowing from the event-focused tradition of electoral politics. Rallies, meet-and-greets, and attention grabbing events are routinely used to drive home a point or capture the attention of a reporter or news crew along the campaign trail.

Instead of simply issuing a press release, consider holding a press conference and taking questions. Use props and visual aids rather than just delivering information in a speech. Political campaigns have a rich tradition of these kind of atmospherics; inventive, colorful imagery can turn a short blurb buried on page 14 into a front-page story and will be noticed and remembered by a far greater number of readers to boot.

Draw Contrasts: Have you ever noticed that political campaigns frequently “go negative” (that is, attack one another), despite the fact that voters say they prefer positive campaigns? There’s a reason for that. Though voters may claim to turn up their noses at negative campaigning, they respond to it, and in some cases it may shape their vote more strongly than any positive messaging. There’s a lesson in there for PR mavens as well. It’s not to be gratuitously nasty or insulting, but there may be a role in a PR campaign for fact-based, fair-minded contrasts between one’s own message and the opposition’s. Good political campaigns are about differences and contrasts. This can be valuable for other types of PR campaigns as well.

If the objective of your PR campaign is to promote your own business or cause at the expense of another, sit down with your PR team to determine if it makes sense to draw a contrast between your messaging and theirs. You should be looking for objective, fact-based instances where your side of the argument is superior to theirs, then figure out how to communicate those cases to readers and viewers in a direct but respectful way. Members of the public aren’t shrinking violets- if your case is persuasive and backed up by neutral fact-checkers, they won’t be turned off by your willingness to go after the opposition. After all, they’ve seen far worse in politics!

Mike Sherry is a director at O’Neill and Associates, specializing in community relations and communications. Email him at msherry@oneillandassoc.com or connect with him on Twitter

Urban Edge Launches Effort to Build Jackson Square Recreation Center

Olympic Gold Medalists Mike Eruzione and Kristine Lilly and Professional Athletes Chris Tierney and Emily Field Join Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for Official Campaign Kick Off

On Monday, March 21st, Mayor Marty Walsh and Olympic gold medalists Mike Eruzione, Kristine Lilly, and professional athletes Chris Tierney and Emily Field gathered with elected officials and civic and business leaders from the Jamaica Plain community to launch a campaign to build the Jackson Square Recreation Center in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. Urban Edge, based in Roxbury, is a community development organization committed to creating and sustaining stable, healthy, and diverse communities in both Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.

Urban Edge has spearheaded the process of building a facility that will provide recreational space and after school activities for children living in the Jamaica Plain and Roxbury neighborhoods. This two-story center will consist of a regulation-size ice rink on the first floor, a turf field on the second floor, and a space dedicated to academics and socializing.

The initial idea for the center came from the community, which recognized that young children living in this neighborhood did not have the same access to recreational facilities as their peers did living in suburban neighborhoods.

At the launch event at the Kelly Rink in Jamaica Plain, Mayor Marty Walsh stated, “I am proud that we are taking an idea from the residents of this neighborhood and partnering with Urban Edge to make it a reality.”

Urban Edge Jackson Sq

Rendering of Urban Edge’s Jackson Square Recreation Center

There are 26,000 young people who live within a 1.5 mile radius of Jackson Square, out of which only 10 percent participate in after school activities, mostly due to the absence of a safe, affordable, and accessible recreational space. That is why Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey team, has joined the campaign committee for the Jackson Square Recreation Center. “Their grades get better, they are more likely to stay in school, and, as importantly, they build teamwork skills, which I believe is critical to success. With this said, I am proud to be a part of the Campaign Committee that is working to build the Jackson Square Recreation Center,” said Eruzione.

The overall project cost totals $21.5 million, of which Urban Edge has already raised a little more than half. Still, the organization is seeking to raise the additional $10 million in funding. In addition to the support of the Jamaica Plain community, the project has gained backing from public officials, making this idea one step closer to reality.

To learn more about O’Neill and Associates’ nonprofit expertise, click here

Five Things I Learned in Iowa

By Nicole Giambusso

Nicole Giambusso, O'Neill and AssociatesIowa Caucus season always brings me back to my days as a field organizer there during the 2008 presidential campaign (full disclosure, I’m a Hillary Clinton supporter). Recently, I’ve realized that the caucuses are an enigma for many people who haven’t experienced them. Here are some takeaways from my time in Iowa for those seeking a little clarity on this iconic political milestone:

The Democratic Caucuses require candidates to be “viable.”

In Iowa, the Democratic and Republican caucus rules differ. During a caucus, Democratic presidential candidates must be deemed “viable” – that is, 15 percent of total voters in the room have to be supporting them in order for those votes to count at all.  When a candidate is deemed non-viable, their supporters are then asked to support alternate candidates. As one could imagine, supporters of low-polling candidates are highly sought after by campaigns vying to be their second choice. The Republicans don’t have this viability requirement. (If they did, I’m sure this year’s crowded field would make for a long and interesting reshuffling process).

There are no secret ballots in Democratic caucuses.

While Republican caucuses use secret ballots, the Democratic caucuses ask voters to stand in a given section of the room to vote publicly for their candidate of choice.

There are no absentee ballots.

Caucusing has to take place in person. I spoke with several potential voters unable to caucus due to factors such as work, lack of child care, or health issues. Barriers remain today, although both parties are making it possible this year for members of the military serving abroad to take part, and the Democrats are taking additional steps toward greater accessibility.

Many Iowans love the process.

A number of Iowans love engaging with campaign staffers who flock to their communities each election cycle. Kind locals – some of whom were not even declared Hillary supporters – fed me zucchini bread and acorn squash, left their doors unlocked in case I needed a snack, restroom or computer, and even gave me a ride in a corn combine. Many Iowans seemed to love the process not only for the chance to see candidates up close, but for the energy and enthusiasm it brought.

Iowa is just as ideologically complex as anywhere else.

The precincts I covered ranged from small towns to expansive farmlands, and like voters across the U.S., they ran the gamut ideologically, from conservative democrats to progressives and everything in between. I even recall a handful of voters telling me they were torn between Obama and Huckabee: two candidates with little in common but their charisma (and of course, winning their respective caucuses that year). These memories flooded back when I read the recent Boston Globe story highlighting New Hampshire voters torn between candidates like Governor John Kasich and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Among other things I learned in Iowa are the real meaning of winter, that there’s such a thing as fried ice cream, and that working with passionate people can make the coldest weather and longest hours enjoyable. As I watch the February 1 caucuses from a distance, I’ll be hoping for a glimpse of the excitement – and of course, for my chosen candidate to pull ahead this time around.

Nicole Giambusso is a director in O’Neill and Associates’ communications division.