Yet another push-back for L Street center re-opening

A drawing shows the building from above. City of Boston images

The long-delayed re-opening of the renovated Curley Community Center in South Boston continues to fall further behind schedule as workers wait for the delivery of essential equipment and furniture needed for operations inside the building.

In December, city officials told the Reporter that the community center— also known as “L Street”— would likely re-open this winter following a $23.3 million renovation project that has overshot its original completion date by well over a year now.

This week, city officials once again moved the goalpost, blaming supply chain delays that will now push the re-opening into the late spring or early summer. In a statement, a city spokesperson said: “Boston Centers for Youth & Families is committed to reopening the Curley Community Center as soon as possible, and is excited to share its new facility features and programming that Boston families deserve.

“The opening is pending supply chain issues that have delayed the delivery of internet network equipment (which was ordered in the fall) and furniture needed to open the site. BCYF is currently preparing for a spring opening as the city arranges temporary solutions for these delivery delays. BCYF will keep the local community informed as a timeline solidifies.”

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A rendering shows what the renovated L Street/ Curley Community Center will look like when it re-opens someday following an extensive renovation project. City of Boston images

However, a spring re-opening is not a rock-solid proposition. Key equipment needed for internet services won’t arrive until May and will still need to be installed, according to an official familiar with the project. In the meantime, city workers are scrambling to get temporary furniture delivered as a stopgap measure until the full inventory arrives in the spring. Still, a precise opening date remains elusive at this point.

The new-and-improved community center will house a new dance studio, fitness center, senior space, locker rooms and three multi-purpose rooms for community events.

The project — a complete rebuilding and modernizing of the 1930s era building on Columbia Road— was supposed to be largely completed in Nov. 2021. Key wellness and social services, including programming for children and seniors, have been displaced during the extended closure, which started in March 2020 due to the Covid crisis. The center never re-opened, with city officials choosing to instead “fast-track” construction and work started inside the building in October 2020.

Last fall, the Reporter revealed that the project was beset by dueling lawsuits triggered by a dispute between the city of Boston and contractors hired to complete the job.

The legal wrangling between the city and its chosen contractor, Boston Building & Bridge Co. (BBB), which won a competitive bid to gut and rebuild the Curley Center, started in 2021. The contractor said it found hazardous materials— including asbestos— that were not part of the original contract with the city. BBB claimed that the need to remediate the hazardous materials ran up costs on the project by nearly $700,000, which the contractor said Boston refused to pay.

After the two parties failed to resolve the money and timing dispute through mediation, the city of Boston filed its own complaint against the architectural firm it hired to plan to project, the South Boston-based DesignLAB Architects, Inc. (dLAB) and its insurance agency, CAN Surety.

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