Say yes to redeveloping former Edison plant

Move could bring affordable housing, parking to area desperate for both

THE REDEVELOPMENT OF the former Edison power plant has the potential to further revitalize South Boston and should be given the green light to move forward.   
The plan, which includes 1,344 condominium units, commercial business space for restaurants, retail shops, hotels, and offices, promises to boost the local economy. It will bring in hundreds of good jobs and turn an abandoned eyesore into a vibrant, mixed-use space that preserves the history of the neighborhood.   
More importantly, the residential component of the development would help to address the housing crisis that is devastating our region by creating accessible housing in a location that is convenient to downtown jobs, public transportation, and commerce. 
The City of Boston is currently facing a severe housing shortage which is driving up rents and forcing potential residents to look outside of Boston for affordable housing. It is also pushing out low-income residents due to a lack of residential options at below-market rates. This formula is a lose-lose scenario for our community. 
Fortunately, exciting and innovative housing projects like the Edison redevelopment have the potential to alleviate some of the pressure on the current housing market in South Boston by transforming an abandoned power plant into a thriving residential complex that serves local residents from a variety of income levels.  
Along with high-end condos, the project includes plans to build affordable housing units for area residents who have been systematically pushed out of South Boston as our city expands. City regulations require that 13 percent of all new housing projects with more than 10 units be set aside at below-market rates. When completed, the Edison project will have about 175 affordable housing units available for local residents, including families and senior citizens.  
Many residents have voiced concern over the potential for increased traffic and parking problems if the project is allowed to move forward with its residential component. However, the proposed development includes plans for ample resident parking with approximately 1,397 parking spaces, which will actually play a key role in alleviating current issues with street congestion and parking, making the project a win-win for both city development and area residents. 
Local residents have also voiced fears that the revitalization project might overwhelm the neighborhood. However, developers have addressed these concerns — scaling back the initial plans and incorporating feedback from South Boston leaders and residents. These changes to the original proposal demonstrate the project’s commitment to overhauling the decommissioned power plant in a way that improves the quality of life for longtime South Boston residents. Key community benefits of the plan include historic preservation measures, additional parking, and efforts to improve access to public transportation with supplemental bus service.  
As a leader in the local building trades community, I have seen how projects like the Edison power plant redevelopment can have a wide range of positive benefits on local communities.  
This abandoned parcel currently contributes nothing to the neighborhood. Passing up an opportunity to boost the local economy, expand affordable housing in the neighborhood, increase public transit, and address parking and congestion problems would be a huge mistake.  
I strongly support this project, Boston’s affordable housing regulations, and the community safeguards that developers are putting in place to help the South Boston community prosper. This project is a smart solution to help ease the city’s housing crunch and would contribute to the ongoing transformation of South Boston. 

Louis Antonellis is the business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 103.