September 21, 2022
After a few misfires, difficulties, and lots of planning, the long-awaited Four Corners Plaza development is about ready for construction to begin, with shovels in the ground perhaps has soon as October.
The Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) and Bald Hill Builders announced late last week they are ready to close on financing and get started on the $25.5 million project after several delays going back to 2014 when the NDC was first designated to develop the city-owned vacant lots. Even as recently as last February, the project had stalled out due to a contractor issue.
“Right now, we’re looking at early October to close on all the financing,” said Marcia Thornhill of Codman Square NDC. “We’re going to work hard and get it done and get to the finish line so Bald Hill can get in there and start construction in October. We’ve had several false starts with this project. As recently as February we thought we were ready to go, and things happened. We’re back on track and the next few weeks will be stressful, but it will all be worth it when we get the construction started.”
Four Corners Plaza will house 32 units of affordable housing for those making 30 percent to 60 percent of the AMI, in a building facing Bowdoin Street. That building will also include about 4,000 square feet of retail space that could become a sit-down restaurant or a bank, though no tenant has been identified. The project also includes three townhouses along Bowdoin Avenue.
Going way back, the property was vacant for many years, but by 1933, according to AtlasScope, it was occupied by an auto repair garage – which resulted in significant environmental contamination.
The project is set on that long-vacant, contaminated Brownfield site at the nexus of Four Corners on Bowdoin Street and Bowdoin Avenue. That area has experienced significant development over the last five years, with businesses like Four Corners Yoga, organizations like The Guild, and new housing developments popping up from time to time.
Thornhill said she believes the Plaza development will spur nearby property owners to build more housing.
“I think there may be a trend after us in this area of people looking to build more housing and mixed-use housing,” she said. “We’ve had neighbors of ours who might be looking to build up property in the area…It would be really great if we can help by being the impetus to give people confidence in what they’re doing and building up on their property with three- or four-stories of housing.
“A neighborhood like Four Corners is really badly in need of housing.”
Bald Hill Builders, a new player in Codman Square and Four Corners, recently won the bid to build the project. The company has done work for community development corporations in Boston like Urban Edge.
Its founder, Brenda Laurenza, said the company intends to prove they can execute the job.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with a new CDC,” she said. “To be given the opportunity is a big deal as a woman-owned business in this industry. You have to be able to do the work. You can’t just be a woman-owned business…We have to back up what we put on paper and execute it.”
With her husband, Matt Grosshandler, she employs 36 workers and has been operating for 13 years.
They said they expect some geo-technical challenges on the site, and some environmental issues, but they intend to provide CSNDC and the community a “smooth ride.”
The construction period should last about 17 months, she said.
For her part, Thornhill, of the Codman Square NDC, said it is exciting for the community. “People have been dealing with this vacant lot a long time and some live next to it or across the street,” she said. “They are excited to look at a nice building and it is a nice-looking building. We’re looking forward to getting the show on the road.”
Marilyn Forman, a community member and an employee of Codman Square NDC, said she appreciates that the decision makers on the project are all women.
“One of the most exciting pieces for me is that it took this many years to develop this, but the people developing this are all women at the top making it happen,” she said.
“We were divided on a lot of things over the years, but because of the nurturing spirit of these women bringing everyone to the together and sitting at the table, we were able to plan a vision for the community.”
To kick off the development, Codman Square NDC and Bald Hill will host a project job fair and information session for the Four Corners community and beyond from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 26 in the Monserrat Aspirers Club, 358 Washington St.
The jobs event will include openings in all facets of construction and development. It will also be a time for residents to learn about the project and ask questions.