Boston—The carefully built townhouses and mid-rise buildings at Maverick Landing seem almost designed to rebut critics of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) HOPE VI program by delivering an on-time, under-budget new community that replaces much of the public housing that was torn down to build it.
The HOPE VI redevelopment of Maverick Gardens has transformed a blighted public housing project into a new, mixed-income development. Many HOPE VI projects take much longer than the five years the program officially allows for their completion and suffer from steep cost overruns.
But Maverick is different. “We’ve come in ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Sarah Barnat, project manager for Maverick’s lead developer, Trinity Financial, Inc., based in Boston.
Financing for the 426-unit, $135 million project began with a $35 million HOPE VI grant announced in 2002. The last units will be finished in November 2006, just four and a half years l*ter.
Finishing faster will hopefully save the project $1.5 million as rental income flows into the project and the development’s construction loans are retired, Barnat said. This money will pay for long-term services to the residents, ranging from job training to child care, provided by Maverick Landing Community Services.
The project also raised $51.4 million from the sale of 4 percent and 9 percent low-income housing tax credits for the four different phases, $13.5 million in capital funds from the Boston Housing Authority, $8.2 million in permanent financing provided by MassHousing to all four phases, and $12.8 million in grants from city and state agencies.
Maverick was also among the first apartment communities in the country to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Building to LEED’s high standards will create apartments that are 40 percent more energy-efficient than the Boston building code requires, according to Nancy Ludwig, principal with ICON architecture, inc., based in Boston. Her design for Maverick includes energy-efficient features from improved insulation to solar panels.
Maverick received a $453,693 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative through its Renewable Energy Trust to help finance the project’s green design features. The hard cost of constructing the apartments at Maverick averaged $170 per unit, according to Barnat.
HOPE VI redevelopments have been criticized for sharply reducing the number of public housing apartments, often by more than half. Although the original 413 units of public housing at Maverick won’t all be replaced, the finished community will include 305 public housing units among its total 426 units.
“We want to maximize the number of returning Maverick residents,” Barnat said.
Maverick will also include 91 market-rate rental apartments and 30 for-sale units that are affordable to households earning from up to 80 percent to no more than 120 percent of the area median income.
The new community has prompted an unusual amount of investment in the surrounding area. “It really will transform not only the Maverick neighborhood but that whole East Boston neighborhood,” Barnat said.
The community is located on the waterfront of East Boston, looking across the harbor at the skyscrapers of downtown Boston. For decades, the superblocks of the old Maverick Gardens public housing project site separated much of the neighborhood from the waterfront.
Now pleasant streets run through the new Maverick Landing, linking the neighborhood with the water. And private builders are now planning new construction for many once-vacant waterfront lots.
“There are redevelopment plans for all those parcels for 1,100 market-rate units of housing,” Barnat said. She credits all this activity to the work at Maverick.