With construction so far along, we can see how dramatically the new Charlesview Residences has changed the Brighton Mills site over the last two years. Most people in the neighborhood can still remember the shopping center with Frugal Fannies and K-Mart ,an old McDonalds, and a tremendously large parking lot.
In fact, if you look at Google Maps you can still see a satellite image of the old shopping center. Apple Maps has recently released the first mapping service satellite image of the new Charlesview Residences, showing the prepared site, the topped off underground garage, and the beginnings of the mid-rises on Western Ave.
But, what was there before all of our construction and before the suburban style box store shopping center?
This excerpt from a 1909 map shows what has and hasn’t changed a lot in the last century. A large cordage (rope) factory operated on what remains the Brighton Mills Shopping Center and a portion of what is now the Charlesview Residences. Most of the Charlesview Residences site, highlighted in blue on the historic map, was laid out for residential development in 1909. This part of the city at the time was both a rapidly growing “streetcar suburb” and a center of industrial jobs itself. The small lot, single and 2- and 3-family homes that we love were built quickly along side streets like Antwerp and Litchfield. You can see many plots on this map that still lack the yellow square that denote the houses. Just across the railroad tracks (now the MassPike and tracks) were the massive Brighton Stock Yards, which provided meat to the city and beyond. Today, that site is being redeveloped by New Balance into a major mixed-use center.
Cities and neighborhoods always change and evolve. We’d like to think that bringing homes back to the neighborhood continues the work of building a Boston neighborhood urban fabric that was underway when this 1909 map was made.
Despite several severe weather events through the winter, work at the Charlesview Residences is moving along quickly. This March is a fascinating time on site, with a range of construction conditions from finished units all the way down to bare foundations ready to be framed.
Unit 202 in Building D1 was the first to be completed, and the construction, architecture, development, and property management teams tested their punch list process on this unit. Punch listing has now moved through all of the 2nd floor units and will proceed to the 3rd floor next week with a goal of one floor per week until D1 is finished.
The interiors of apartments in Building E1 trail those in D1. Here is a look at a kitchen on the 5th floor of E1, which will be the last floor to be finished in that building. Counter-tops and appliances need to be installed in the kitchen, and the rest of the unit will get flooring.
The interiors of C-block townhomes are moving just behind the interiors of E1. Here is a look inside C1, where countertops, appliances, flooring, and the last interior doors remain to be finished.
Outside on C-block, siding, hardie trim, roofing, and other exterior work is complete on 3 of the 5 townhomes.
Next door on A-block, final exterior work has begun with trim and siding. Interior work on A-block is also gearing up to begin now.
With framing complete on A-block and finishing on Building E2, crews have moved over to B-block and will begin on D-block next week. There are 54 framers on site most days now, but during days like today with snow or freezing temperatures framing work must pause. Below is B5 framed to the roof and B6 moving onto the 3rd floor.
With framing approaching completion on E2 exterior work there has continued with window and granite installation, as seen below.
Inside E2, crews are doing the rough-in for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Drywalling has yet to begin in E2, so wood-framed interiors can still be seen.
The framing crews that finished E2 will begin framing D-block townhomes next week as the panelized materials arrive on site. The foundations for those townhomes can be seen in the foreground below with the mid-rises in the background. This summer, the new Charlesview, Inc. office will be on the foundation seen in the center of the photograph.
The background of the photo above also shows the exterior work of the E1 mid-rise moving towards completion. Yellow insulation can be seen on the building’s west face where metal panel installation will follow.
The development is now about 75% construction completion, so this fascinating range of conditions will not last for long as our crews hustle towards the finish.
Progress on the Charlesview Residences were featured in two news articles today.
First up, Construction Today – an industry trade magazine – ran an article focused on the complexity of the development and how general contractor John Moriarty and Associates, and co-developers The Community Builders and Charlesview Inc are managing to get it done.
On Wednesday, the Charlesview community celebrated the dedication of the cornerstone at the Charlesview Residences.
About 40 people attended the event in the blistering cold during lunchtime today, including Charlesview Board members and residents; staff from The Community Builders, our general contractor John Moriarty and Associates, CBT Architects, and MassHousing; representatives from Mayor Menino and Representative Honan’s offices; neighbors and other members of the Allston-Brighton community.
Jo-Ann Barbour, Executive Director of Charlesview, Inc. welcomed the community into the new Charlesview Residences as they gathered in the breezeway between what will be the Josephine Fiorentino Community Center and the Charlesview management office enjoying hot chocolate in the chilly space. Reverand Jeffrey Hooker of Community United Methodist Church delivered an opening prayer. Father Frank Glynn of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church and Chair of the Charlesview, Inc. Board delivered remarks celebrating the symbol of cooperation and community and the fruit of years of planning and work rising around us. Anegla Holm, the Allston-Brighton Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods Services and herself a native of Charlesview also spoke about the meaning of this community. Mary-Helen Black represented Harvard and spoke about how happy the University has been with this community partnership.
The crowd shuffled outside into the 5 degree weather to watch the unveiling of the Cornerstone itself, led by John Cusack who is a Charlesview resident, member of the Board, and also a worker on the construction site. Back inside, Rabbi Yonah Berman of Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe delivered a closing benediction.
The Cornerstone dedication was just the first of many celebrations planned for 2013 as construction – now 65% complete – moves towards a finish, Charlesview residents prepare to move into their new homes, and the new community center prepares to open with exciting new programming for the Allston-Brighton community.
Last week, we featured the hard work being done to frame our townhomes in the cold weather. This week, let’s take a peek inside the slightly warmer mid-rises (permanent heat has yet to turn on as gas meters have just been delivered from National Grid) to take a look at the apartment interiors.
Week by week, the interiors of the mid-rise buildings look more and more like finished apartments. Interior work begins with the first residential level on the 2nd floor and progressively moves up to the 5th floor; first with framing and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, followed by drywall, ceilings, painting, unit and hallway doors, kitchen floors, kitchen cabinets, tubs and showers, bathroom tile, bathroom cabinets, toilets, remaining unit flooring, lighting and appliance installation.
The units on the 2nd floor of the D1 building are furthest along. It is easy now to stand in a kitchen and picture yourself pulling food from the fridge, prepping on the counter, cooking on the stove top, and rotating over to plate on the countertops and drop things in the sink – all in natural light flowing in from the large living room windows. Within a month or so the first units will be completed, though it will be several more months before the buildings are fully complete and receive certificates of occupancy so that residents can really get cooking in these new homes.
As winter sets in at the site, construction continues with many crews continuing their work outdoors. While work on the steel-framed mid-rises is primarily shifting indoors, workers constructing our wood-framed buildings have been battling the cold to get these buildings up. Eight of the twenty wood buildings have been framed, with another two currently in progress. Although chilly now, these high performance buildings are being built under the New Homes with Energy Star program, which requires the construction crews to maintain extremely high standards with regard to air sealing, insulation, and duct sealing. In addition to a well sealed and insulated envelope, these buildings will feature energy efficient equipment for heating, lighting, and appliances. In total, the team expects these efforts to result in a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, when compared to a standard new construction home. These expectations will be verified at project completion through a series of third party tests, to be conducted by Conservation Services Group. Results will be published to this blog, so stay tuned. In the meantime, think warm thoughts for those working outside this week.