Residents Respond to City’s Housing Initiative

In response to a request by the Mayor’s Housing Innovation Lab in the Office of New Urban Mechanics for new ways to co-develop mixed-income housing on city-owned properties, three Beacon Hill residents submitted a proposal last week that would not only enhance two local public assets but also provide housing for families of mixed-income levels.

Calling themselves the Beacon Hill Committee for Housing with Public Assets for the purposes of the proposal, the three saw a particular need in the neighborhood for larger apartments for families with children, smaller units for older residents who would like to downsize from large homes with too many stairs, young professionals and people with disabilities.

Following the city’s guidelines, the committee’s proposal calls for the replacement of the West End Branch of the Boston Public Library at 151 Cambridge Street with a five- to eight-story building, with the library located on the first floor and residential units above. In addition, they proposed to replace or build around the Engine 4/Ladder 24 Fire Station at 200 Cambridge Street with a four- or five-story building having the fire department on the lower floors and residential units above.

The city suggests that one-third of the housing should be affordable by low-income households, one-third by middle income and one-third would be offered at market rates.

Committee members are Karen Cord Taylor, co-founder and former publisher of the Beacon Hill Times, John Achatz, former Beacon Hill Civic Association president and chair, and Suzanne Besser, former BHCA executive director and currently its president.

Although this is not a BHCA initiative, its board of directors unanimously supported the committee’s interest in submitting a proposal to the city.

The city’s Request for Information, the Committee’s Response and a Q and A are posted on  For more information, email [email protected].

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