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Orchard Gardens

Introduction
Orchard Garden Housing When the HOPE VI application for Orchard Park was submitted to HUD, Orchard Park was considered one of the most severely distressed developments in the BHA's portfolio. Its buildings were dilapidated, its name synonymous with crime, and its residents were isolated from everything around them. In fact, the distress at Orchard Park had spread into the surrounding neighborhoods and they, too, had fallen into a state of disrepair and abandonment.

While the conditions at Orchard Park got progressively worse, the determination of a group of residents to turn it around increased. The Orchard Park Tenants’ Association became the most effective resident organization in the city, a well-organized representative of the larger resident population. The Association members have worked tirelessly for change, and have understood that they could either generate linkages between adjacent urban reinvestment areas and activities, or be a barrier to that linkage. Thus an effective partnership between BHA and the residents was developed and with limited funds a third of the housing units began to be upgraded. The first phase of redevelopment was begun.

It was during construction of Phase 1 that HUD announced a round of funding through the HOPE VI program and the inclusion of perhaps the two most important objectives of the HOPE VI program: creating viable and truly mixed-income communities, and augmenting HUD funds with private debt and/or equity investment.

The program provided an extraordinary opportunity to change the very nature of the neighborhood. The revitalization of Orchard Park could be a catalyst for reuniting the disparate parts of Lower Roxbury, turning Orchard Park into a synergistic part of the community. The program could reunite Orchard Park physically, socially, and economically to the world around it. Central to the revitalization strategy for Orchard Park is the conversion of a traditional public housing project into a mixed-income project, developed with public and private financing.

The plan for Orchard Park is much more than rebuilding distressed public housing. The plan is truly a neighborhood revitalization strategy. It makes linkages between the resources and energies of the Boston Housing Authority, the Orchard Park Tenants’ Association, and the community development organizations working around Orchard Park. By working collaboratively and reinforcing each other, the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

The Orchard Park HOPE VI redevelopment has received the following honors: a 1999 HUD Best Practices Award; the first Community Building by Design Award from the American Institute of Architects in partnership with HUD; and a 1999 Builder’s Choice Award for excellence in residential design and planning. It also was featured on the cover of Affordable Housing Finance.

Goals of the Program
The BHA established the following goals for the Orchard Park HOPE VI Initiative:
  1. End the isolation of Orchard Park by reuniting the development physically, socially, and economically to its neighbors;
  2. Transform Orchard Park from severely distressed housing, which is a deterrent to private investment, into an attractive environment that becomes a catalyst for the infusion of other public and private resources;
  3. Build a range of viable, desirable housing options in the neighborhood for low- and moderate-income families so that people of different incomes live side-by-side;
  4. Reinforce ongoing efforts of neighborhood community groups to improve the area by enabling and stimulating the reconnection of disparate segments of the Lower Roxbury community;
  5. Create real economic opportunity designed to lead to self-sufficiency for residents;
  6. Foster a sense of public service and self-help by including community service as an integral part of HOPE VI program.

Implementing the Program
Orchard Garden Community Center The following is a description of the general parameters of the Orchard Park HOPE VI initiative

A. Physical Redevelopment
  • Complete redevelopment of the current site, via rehabilitation, demolition, and new construction, to create 331 high-quality housing units of a scope and scale reflective of neighborhood standards. The redevelopment has been done in phases to minimize relocation difficulties and avoid disruption of the service and economic development components of the program.
  • Creation of 160 new housing units to link the Orchard Park site to the nearby and stable Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Housing will fill in vacant lots in this "transitional" area, drawing the strengths of the new Orchard Park and Mount Pleasant together.
  • Reorganizing the site to create a typical family housing neighborhood and remove the "institutional" feel. All efforts have been made to combine various elements to create visual interest and identity.
  • Relinking the development to the surrounding neighborhood by building new public streets and green spaces in accordance with the existing landscape. The development will no longer be structured as a "superblock" with limited access and the attendant safety compromises.
In addition, the program includes a new school that has required a joint planning process between the BHA and the Boston School and Parks and Recreation Departments. The Boston School Department designed a new K-8 school, which was developed on a portion of the original public housing site. The school design and the new public streets contributed to the need to reconfigure the existing park. Due to state law, the reconfiguration needed to be approved by home rule legislation that the BHA filed. Overall, the redevelopment impacted the original 16-acre site and an additional 4 acres in the surrounding neighborhood.



The redevelopment consists of rental and homeownership units. The unit breakdown by bedroom is as follows:

 

Rental

Homeownership

1 BR

102

5

2 BR

154

15

3 BR

151

15

4 BR

33

 

5 BR

6

10


The Orchard Park redevelopment program provides a mix of 85% public housing units and 15% market-rate units. There are five income tiers within the public housing units to ensure diverse incomes throughout the development. The income-mix goals as a percent of Area Median Income were:

Tier 1

12% units below 10% of the AMI

Tier 2

12% units between 11 and 20% AMI

Tier 3

23% units between 21 and 40% AMI

Tier 4

41% units between 41 and 60% AMI

Tier 5

12% units between 61 and 80% AMI. This applies only to Phases 1 and 2 on-site.


B. Financing

To be able to implement its goals, the BHA supplemented the HOPE VI funds with Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Over $34 million in private equity was raised. The City of Boston funded all infrastructure upgrades including streets, water and sewer connections, and park improvements.

C. Ownership

The BHA has selected private development teams to implement the on-site and off-site rental development packages and transfered the site to several limited partnership entities, subject to a ground lease and other contractual documents.

On-Site (Phases 1-3)
The first phase, a gut rehab of 9 buildings, was completed in December 1996. The 126 units are fully occupied. Started in 1997, the second phase included the demolition of 8 buildings and the construction of 90 new units. All 90 units were occupied by the end of 1998. The third phase included the demolition of 11 buildings and the rehabilitation of a historic building, the Dearborn School, to create 115 units of new housing. This phase was completed by the end of 1999 and is fully occupied. The developer, Madison Trinity Ventures, is a joint venture between Madison Park Development Corporation and Trinity Financial, Inc. Other members of the team include Domenech Hicks & Krockmalnic as project architect, Maloney Properties as the property management agent, and Hale & Dorr as legal counsel. The development’s name is Orchard Gardens.

Off-Site (Phases 1 & 2)
Phases 1 and 2 will provide 115 units of rental housing. Cruz Development Corporation is the developer with Domenech Hicks & Krockmalnic as project architect. The developer assembled 50 vacant parcels owned by the City of Boston and one vacant building. Phase 1 construction is almost complete; about half of the first 76 units of housing are occupied. Cruz Management Company will manage the new units. Phase 2 is currently under review at the BHA due to unanticipated soil remediation costs. The development’s name is Orchard Commons.

Homeownership (Phases 1-3)
The homeownership units are in the surrounding neighborhood and are being implemented in three phases. The first phase, Shawmut Estates, is complete and units are being sold now. This development consists of 15 units of condominium-style townhouses. The second phase is the disposition and rehabilitation of 10 duplex units. HUD approved the disposition of BHA-owned units to a community non-profit, Nuestra Comunidad Development Corp. This agency will do the redevelopment and sell the units individually as fee simple owner-occupied units. The third phase will be new construction in approximately 12 vacant parcels. The BHA is currently in the planning stage and will issue an RFP to redevelop in Fall 2000.

D. Relocation

Resident relocation was done in phases to meet the demolition/construction schedule under a HUD-approved plan. Original residents were given the right to return to the new development as long as they remained in lease good standing. Relocation options consisted of temporary or permanent moves and residents could choose between public housing or private housing with a section 8 voucher. Residents were contacted as units became available and at this time all residents who wished to return are housed in the new development.

E. Management

At the time the BHA decided to seek private developer/owners (9/95), we believed that in order to attract a private developer/owner, market-rate residents, and investors, we had to have private management at Orchard Park. Interim management is seen as a commitment by the agency to carry out its proposed plan and will serve to provide a transition period for the residents to introduce the new management standards and expectations. The BHA entered into an interim management agreement with Maloney Properties in August of 1997 that continued until the redevelopment was complete. At this time, the management responds entirely to the new partnership owners.

As part of the redevelopment, HUD approved a site-based waiting list. Over 8,000 applicants submitted applications during a two-week period in the winter of 1999. The list was used to fill remaining Phase 2 and Phase 3 units after original Orchard Park residents were re-housed.

As of February 2000, a small percentage (.27%) of the applicants are market-rate and the percentage of public housing wait-list applicants per Income Tier is as follows:

Tier 1

24.37%

Tier 2

34.71%

Tier 3

30.75%

Tier 4

8.56%

Tier 5

1.34%


As or February 2000, the wait-list applicants per reported race/ethnic group is as follows:

White (not of Hispanic Origin)

2.43%

Black (not of Hispanic Origin)

42.90%

Hispanic

38.56%

Asian or Pacific Islander

5.21%

American Indian or Alaskan Native

0.64%

Unknown

10.26%


F. Supportive Services The BHA is implementing a comprehensive assessment, referral, and coordination system to ensure that Orchard Park residents receive a holistic approach to their needs. On-site family advocacy staff provide linkages to: prenatal care and parent skill-building, child care, early childhood education, after-school child care enrichment programs that include teens, and adult literacy and educational programs that focus on long-term career development. In addition, there is an elderly component to ensure seniors receive medical care. Additional educational opportunities will result from the construction of the new school, which will have a Community Learning Center.

G. Economic Development

The BHA is developing a broad-based economic development program in collaboration with public and private entities that bring not only their expertise but also their resources. The program is geared to service the needs of the entire family, to provide a long-term impact and to break the poverty cycle. Job interest and skill surveys have been conducted. Each development team is required to do intensive outreach to residents to ensure Section 3 employment opportunities.

Adult educational, skill training, and job preparation initiatives will be coordinated to ensure the smooth transition for the participants from basic literacy to GED and ESL training, to real job skill development training. Support groups to help families adjust to their new situations will be organized as needed. Day care will be available.

H. Partnerships

In order to carry out the HOPE VI program, BHA coordinated the efforts and resources of different city departments. For example:
  • The Boston Community Centers: a partner in providing services to youth
  • The Boston Parks Department: a partner in the redesign and redevelopment of Orchard Park
  • The Boston Public Facilities Department: a partner in supporting the aggregation of vacant land in the neighborhood to support the redevelopment
  • The Boston Police Department: a partner in crime prevention strategies
  • The Boston Redevelopment Authority: a partner in securing expedited approvals
  • The Boston School Department: a partner in the construction of a new K-8 school on a portion of the former public housing site
  • The Boston Public Works Department: a partner in developing new streets
  • The Boston Water & Sewer Commission: a partner in developing new infrastructure
I. Security

The Boston Housing Police, a Special Police Division within the Boston Police Department, prepared a report entitled “Reported Crime in Public Housing 1997-1999.” The following statistics, comparing reported crime in the HOPE VI developments from 1997 through 1999 to reported crime citywide were excerpted from this report.

Crime statistics were broken down into two categories. Part I: crimes of violence with malicious intent against persons and property, and Part II: less serious crimes against persons or property.

 

1997

1998

1999

% Change

Orchard Park Part I

80

37

21

-73.8%

Orchard Park Part II

127

83

56

-55.9%

Citywide Part I

-

-

-

-6.0%

Citywide Part II

-

-

-

-5.8%


These statistics clearly illustrate the positive impact that HOPE VI has achieved in this development. BHA police will continue to provide dedicated community-policing services to the entire Orchard community (on- and off-site) over the next 2-3 years. We expect that over this period, we will be able to transition to a less concentrated policing effort.

To Learn More
For more information, call the HOPE VI staff at (617) 988-4317

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