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Done, with dignity

Submitted by on 1, March 25, 2008 – 7:24 amNo Comment

Well, it looks like one little development saga out on the base is finally set to resolve itself: Developers expect to break ground on 39 apartments for low-income residents on a corner of the former Fleet and Industrial Supply Center in May or June.

Dubbed Shinsei Gardens (“shinsei” is Japanese for, among other things, “dignity”), the apartments will be built on Wilver “Willie” Stargell Avenue, behind the back fence of Bayport and right next to the Marina Village Coast Guard housing. The project, now estimated to cost $17 million, should be completed in about a year, developer Resources for Community Development says. It will be marketed to homeless veterans and the disabled, but open to all low-income families.

Operation Dignity, which will run the apartment complex, sued the city in 2005, claiming it was not moving fast enough to get it built. Founder Alex McElree says the project was promised as a replacement for low-income units that were torn down to make way for Bayport several years back. Housing Authority head Michael T. Pucci says that the slow progress of other commercial developments on the base limited the city’s ability to help fund the project.

The 2006 settlement included cash payments to Operation Dignity for each year the project doesn’t get built, McElree says; he says he got $150,000 last year. The city will kick up to $4 million into the mix of funding pulled together by RCD for the project.

And then of course, there’s the whole matter of the nasty mess of chemicals on all that Navy land. The Navy cleaned up polychlorinated biphenyls and cadmium that were in the soil at the site in 2004, and is apparently still cleaning up the groundwater there. The developer will build a sophisticated sub-slab doohickey with pipes to vent toxic soil gases away from the building (you can get the full rundown on that on page three of this document).

After it’s built, occupants will have a smashing rear view of the weeds, the wasted remains of old warehouses and a graffiti-strewn building, the Coast Guard’s abandoned North Village housing and Marina Village’s barbed wire fence. But the project itself is going to be built greener than what came before it, and it’ll look pretty darned nice when it’s finished if these drawings are any indication.

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