Latest senior housing plan for Hamilton St. gets airing

A rendering shows a proposed new senior housing development for 25-33 Hamilton St.
Image courtesy Davis Sq. Architects

VietAID has reduced the number of units and increased parking at what it hopes will be its first-ever senior housing development. The property, at 25-33 Hamilton St., now features a vacant lot and a vacant home.

The affordable housing developer joined members of an online meeting on Nov. 22 to discuss some changes to the project it first presented in September, including reducing the number of units from 42 to 36 units. They also reduced bike parking to 18 spots while adding more vehicle parking for a total of 13 spaces.

The design of the building, consequently, has gone from a U-shape to an L-shape, but has retained amenities like a community room.

Eric Fellinger of VietAID said the group hopes to target those in existing housing or apartments in the area who would like to downsize or find more appropriate older adult housing. He noted that the city is behind in its 2014 goal for senior housing.

“When I first saw the site, I said it felt like a senior housing site,” he said. “It’s a residential area and seniors will have less impact on a neighborhood. It seemed to me the right thing to do…This housing is desperately needed. A lot of folks are living in third-floor apartments and they’ve lived there a long time, but it’s harder now because they can’t get up the stairs.

“There’s not that many places for them to move to and we’re trying to provide that option to people in Dorchester that have been here a long time and are looking to downsize,” he said.

The plan, which is age-restricted for those 62 years and older, will include 20 units for 60 percent of the AMI, 7 units for 50 percent AMI, and 9 units for 30 percent AMI – including 5 units reserved for elders who were formerly homeless. An income of 60 percent AMI is about $50,000 per year.

Some neighbors on the call had concerns about affordability. VietAID Executive Director Lisette Le said the organization intends to reach out to those in Bowdoin Geneva and surrounding areas.

“We want to make sure the folks that live in the neighborhood or the abutting neighborhoods have the ability to apply,” she said. “This will be a tax credit project and go through fair housing…It’s going out to organizations and reaching ethnic radio stations and newspapers, community organizations, and flyering. It’s our goal in our past projects so those that live in a particular zip code, in this case 02122, 02125 and 02124, are the ones filling out the applications for this.”

Haris Hardaway, interim executive director of Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets, said he hoped that there could be even more parking added. Fellinger said they gained the new parking by eliminating some of the required bike parking spaces, as the city agreed bike parking isn’t as critical for an older adult building. Hardaway hoped to get even fewer bike spaces and more vehicle spaces for residents, caregivers, and family members.

“It’s really a small and younger group of elders that would use a bike,” he said. “It becomes a possibility for injury for those over 65. I hope that can be further revised because we desperately need parking…The elderly are more likely than not to have a car and will drive into their 80s.”

Another concern was traffic on Hamilton Street, which often acts as a speedway for those going between Columbia Road and Bowdoin Street. Fellinger said they have addressed this with the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), which has has indicated it will now include Hamilton Street in a larger traffic study of Bowdoin Street that is ongoing.
Fellinger also said they hope to potentially be able to work with the Neighborhood Slow Streets program for Hamilton Street.

Hebrew Senior Life has been identified as offering senior services to the building and there is a “firm commitment” from them to have a management contract for the senior building, he added.

This is at least the fourth proposal before the community for this particular site. In 2020, a developer proposed market-rate housing in two iterations, with as many as 51 units at first. VietAID last summer first proposed 42 units of housing and seven parking spots before its current revisions.

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