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.
Construction has now passed 50% completion.
Exterior work on the Western Avenue mid-rises is nearly finished, and construction activity is shifting towards building out the interior of the mid-rises in time for winter. Framing of the C-block townhomes is nearly complete. A-block townhome framing continues apace, and the E2 mid-rise is rising along Telford Street. Window installation, mechanical-electrical-plumbing work, spray-foam, and roofing are also proceeding on the townhomes, beginning with C block. New roads inside the site are paved. Work on the land that will be a park along Justinian Way has begun. Standing in the middle of the site, Charlesview is beginning to really look like an extension of the older Brighton neighborhood to the south and west.
Thanks to the incredible work by JM-A and their subcontractors, with a little assist from a mild winter in 2012, this milestone is being reached well in advance of initial projections. As we turn towards another winter, we are fortunate that so much exterior work has already been completed on the site. We are also focused on beginning the move-in process, working with residents of the existing Charlesview site in Barry’s Corner to be ready to move by late Spring / early Summer. Potential retail tenants are beginning to look at the spaces along Western Avenue. The community center space is taking shape as well with plans for a computer center, classrooms, and community meeting space proceeding. The next half of construction will be very exciting as this new community solidifies.
Hurricane Sandy brought massive destruction to Haiti and the Caribbean and unprecedented damage to New York, New Jersey, and much of the rest of the east coast. But closer to home, we were also worried how the Charlesview construction site could weather the storm.
The quality work and preparation by our contractors, along with some good luck, helped Charlesview through with just some minor setbacks.
Sandy only set the construction schedule back by about 2 days as masons, carpenters, roofers, and other trades were unable to work on account of the storm. The damage Sandy dealt to New York may cause further delays as a window delivery was expected from a manufacturer in Flushing, Queens.
Damage to the site was limited to:
- 2 pieces of decking torn from stair tower on E2
- Minor water damage to D1 mid-rise
- Flooding in garage because storm drains have yet to be tied into city system
- Some newly installed shingles on C1 and C2 roofs lost and damaged
Since this storm hit before the site’s storm water management system was tied into the city system and complete and before the buildings have been sealed from the elements, we got very lucky that damage at Charlesview was limited. We can worry instead about Haiti, New York, New Jersey and others that took a direct hit from Sandy.
MassHousing – our lender – featured Charlesview with a short video on its blog. The video features an update on construction, chats with JM-A Construction Manager John Viola and other construction workers, and a brief financial overview. It’s worth a watch for the virtual tour of the job site alone.
Each day, over 150 laborers, carpenters, electricians, sheet metal workers, masons, roofers, pipefitters and other tradespeople go to work building the new Charlesview and transforming Western Ave into the new vibrant, mixed use heart of North Brighton. On behalf of the The Community Builders, Inc., Charlesview, Inc. and our redevelopment partners, we wish them – and you - and happy, safe and restful Labor Day weekend.