Four More Proposals for West End Branch Library Redevelopment

The Mayor’s Office of Housing sponsored its second of two virtual public meetings to review submittals to the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the redevelopment of the West End Branch Library on Tuesday, July 25. MOH released its RFP on April 3 for the redevelopment of the site of  the library, which opened in the 1960s, into a mixed-use development that would include a new ground-level space for the library itself, along with multiple floors of primarily income-restricted, affordable housing above it. Eight submissions were submitted to the city that met the criteria for the RFP by the June 15 deadline. The national nonprofit Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH), in partnership with Caste Capital, is proposing a project comprising a 17,500-18,000 square-foot envelope for a two-story branch library, with 12 stories of affordable housing above it, which would include 119 affordable units (a mix of studios and one-, two-, and three-bedrooms). The building would be set back and step down to respond to the scale of adjacent Otis House Museum and Old West Church, said Jonathon Evans, a principal with MASS Design Group, while a proposed pocket park would directly connect with the library’s outdoor programming space. POAH, which also manages the nearby Blackstone Apartments, would partner with other organizations, including ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC), Mass General Hospital , Boston Senior Home Care, and Greater Boston Food Bank, to provide services for residents, said Juliana Stuart-Lomax of POAH. In a second proposal, The Community Builders, Inc., a Boston nonprofit, together with a Boston architectural firm, JGE Development, has submitted a plan for a 10-story building containing 87 new affordable, “family-sized” apartments above a two-story branch library. The proposal includes plans for potential public path connection, said Jonathan Garland of JGE Development. Existing parking for the Otis House Museum would also be relocated to rear of the site, he said, which would open space in front of the library for use as a garden. Other planned amenities include a 2,000 square-foot public outdoor space, as well as an additional outdoor space for the use of residents only, added Garland. If this proposal is ultimately selected, construction could get underway in 2025, said Laura Martin of The Community Builders In a third proposal, Trinity Financial is partnering with Norfolk Design & Construction of Dedham on plans to deliver a 21-story building, including 180 mixed-income housing units (80 percent of which would be affordable),  as well as an 18,500 square-foot branch library, which would span two floors, along with a street-level café. This proposal also includes plans to partner with Mass General Hospital to improve the entry way at 165 Cambridge St., said Patrick Lee, one of the founders and owners of Trinity Financial. A fourth proposal from The Michaels Organization, a national real-estate developer of affordable housing, includes plans for a 14-story building, which would contain 107 living units, as well as a new branch library across three levels, including the basement. Four more responses to the RFP were previously reviewed during the first public meeting on this matter, which took place virtually on July 18; these responses included a proposal from Beacon Communities, in partnership with Caribbean Integration Community Development, for a seven-story building containing a 20,000 square-foot library branch on the development’s ground floors, as well as 84 one-bedroom rental units for income and age-restricted seniors above it; a proposal from Evergreen Urban Edge JV LLC for a new, two-story library branch attached to a nine-story residential tower containing 85 units; a proposal from the Planning Office of Urban Affairs, Inc., together with CSI Support & Development Services, for a new, two-story 19,500 square foot, library branch, with 97 units of affordable, intergenerational housing for seniors and families; and a proposal from Pennrose LLC for a 174-foot building, which includes a 25,000 square-foot new library space with a two-story entry pavilion on Cambridge Street, along with a residential tower above it containing 121 income-restricted rental units, respectively. All eight proposals can be accessed online at The public-comment period for proposals closes on Aug. 18. Public comments can be submitted to, or submitted via email to Joe Backer, senior development officer for MOH, at [email protected]. The city is expected to select a developer for the project in the early fall, said Backer, and construction is slated to take between one and a half years to two years to complete. Meanwhile, the Boston Public Library will lead a separate process for programming the library space itself, said Backer.

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