Abutters Informed of BAA Construction Progress

The new Boston Arts Academy (BAA) building is one step closer to becoming a reality. At an abutters pre-construction meeting held at the Fenway Community Center on Aug. 23, Joe Berry, project executive at contractor Lee Kennedy Co., told the abutters that mobilization of the job site would happen on Monday, Aug. 27. He said that they would try to set the site perimeter in front of the school on Ipswich Street on that day.

“If everything goes as we expect, next Monday we will see jersey barriers,” Berry said. Sidewalks will be taken out and barriers and fences along Ipswich Street in front of the school will be installed.

Berry said that as far as the demolition goes, people “will not see much for a couple of months,” as they will begin by demolishing the interior of the building down to the structure, beginning with asbestos abatement. He said that they anticipate that the interior will be done by Thanksgiving. After that, there will be a small gap in work because additional permitting is required before demolishing the structure.

“There will be some lull in activity in the site,” Berry said. He also said that they have a demolition contractor lined up and are waiting for finalized approval. The entire building is anticipated to be down and ready for a new foundation by March. Crews will not be working on Sundays or holidays, and will not be working every Saturday.

Pest control was an issue brought up by some of the abutters, especially since so much demolition tends to produce an increase in pest activity at the site. Though they haven’t signed up for a pest control/management program yet, Berry said that it’s required.

Security of the site was another concern. Berry said that to begin with, there will not be any security personnel, only video surveillance.

“We will be in the street at some point-cutting utilities,” Berry said. Water, fire protection, and power will be kept live for a number of weeks until all combustibles are removed from the building, he added.

No streets will be closed, and they are trying to leave two-way vehicular and pedestrian traffic in tact. Berry said that the inbound side of the road will be bumped out for the pedestrian walkway on the BAA side of Ipswich Street, but they are “not anticipating any additional road impacts,” Berry said.

“Our traffic/construction management plan keeps everything inside that jersey barrier—we don’t anticipate modifying that,” he said.

Jim McQueen, project manager for the City of Boston, said that they will be providing the community with “irregularly scheduled updates.”McQueen said that they don’t want to have “too many meetings,” but rather, “just the right amount” to keep the community informed about significant changes.

He said there will be a meeting in October right before heavy demolition is to begin, as well as around February as they’re getting into site cleaning and before utility work, followed by meetings for other milestones along the way.

“Every time we’re going into a major change we will update people about what we’re doing and what you can expect,” he said. McQueen also said that there will be groundbreaking at the beginning of October, which will likely be a Saturday event.

Berry said that there will be about 30 months total of construction. The building is set to be completed in the spring of 2021, with classes to begin that fall.

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