A long-planned redevelopment of the largest public housing complex in New England will launch later this year, with a deep-pocketed investor signed on.
Declaration Partners, an investment firm anchored by the family office of private equity billionaire David M. Rubenstein, will take the lead on financing the re-do of Charlestown’s Bunker Hill housing complex, the Boston Housing Authority and the project’s developers said Monday. Led by Joseph J. Corcoran Co. and Leggat McCall Properties, the 10-year effort will replace 1,100 apartments for some of Boston’s poorest residents and add nearly 1,600 new apartments — at mixed income levels — at the 26-acre site on the northern edge of Charlestown.
The ambitious project has been in the works for nearly six years, part of the BHA’s effort to redevelop its aging stock of public housing — in the absence of much federal funding to do so — by partnering with private developers. After lengthy discussions with the neighborhood and multiple redesigns, Corcoran, Leggat, and the tenant group Charlestown Resident Alliance won city approvals in recent months. Now, with financing lined up, they’re set to start work by year’s end on the project’s first phase: two buildings worth about $180 million in all.
“This will be a case study of how public housing can be transformed into [mixed income] housing communities utilizing the private capital markets,” said Corcoran Co. president Joseph Corcoran. “This will be the landmark property we envisioned where future generations can thrive in equitable housing and enjoy an onsite community center that offers social and educational programming.”
The project will be financed, in part, through affordable housing subsidies such as federal tax credits and Section 8 vouchers, as well as a promised $120 million in infrastructure funding from the City of Boston. But in Declaration, it has the sort of deep-pocketed private investor needed to bankroll a project that’s expected to cost $1.4 billion over a decade. Rubenstein cofounded The Carlyle Group, and Forbes estimates he is worth $4.1 billion. He launched Declaration in 2017, and the firm has invested in both startups and real estate projects.
“We are humbled to have the opportunity,” said Declaration cofounder Todd Rich. “We are attracted to the social benefits of preserving affordable housing while adding market-rate housing in Boston, which we intend to continue to invest in over the long term given the city’s diverse economy and strong demand fundamentals.”
Specific terms of the investment were not immediately available Monday.