Proposed construction could add 600,000 square feet to BMC, frustration to some residents

BOSTON — The busiest trauma center in the region is announcing a major expansion could be on the horizon to keep up with demand. Boston Medical Center revealed it could add as much as 600,000 square feet of construction over the next decade.

Some neighbors in the South End, however, believe the proposal is posing a threat to their homes. Some told Boston 25 News that BMC's proposed plan for future major expansion includes a 10-story building that will sit about 50 feet away from the back of their homes.

Neighbors say they've seen and felt the impact of much smaller construction projects around the area in the past and are convinced the new building could take a noticeable toll on their properties and daily lives.

"These are old buildings and the cracks, when something shifts you can see," said Neal Gaffey, a neighbor.

Cracks appearing on the walls and in the windows. It's an on-going occurrence that neighbors on East Brookline Street say they've seen, felt and heard in recent years.

"I hear the beeping every morning at 7 a.m. like clockwork," Gaffey said. "Every day, seven days a week. There were a couple of instances where I’d wake up and you’d feel the whole building vibrating."

Gaffey says vibrations from nearby construction projects, including BU Dental School's expansion over the last few years, have not only been a nuisance, but also a serious concern on the structural integrity of the neighborhood's 19th century rowhouses.

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Now he and others are just learning about what could be a much bigger project with BMC announcing its proposed major expansion, which could last for a decade.

"We've dealt with a lot lately over the last couple of years,” he said. "To just be finishing with the dental school and proposing this right after that would be a problem."

"My house has been impacted by many, many, many vibrations," said Cinda Stoner, another neighbor. "You can go through the plan, you can verify this lack of consideration."

The institutional master plan that's been submitted to city regulators could add as much as 600,000 square feet of new construction and includes three new 10-story buildings and the construction of a new 14-story inpatient facility at Mass Ave and Albany Street.

Transforming the campus' presence in the South End to meet clinical and administrative needs, a BMC spokesman told Boston 25 News that the hospital has already met with several neighborhood groups to solicit input and answer questions.

In a statement, New England's largest safety-net hospital added:

Boston Medical Center's proposed Institutional Master Plan (IMP) includes possible projects that BMC may pursue in the next 10 years to meet clinical and administrative needs. As part of our IMP filing, we have met with several neighborhood groups to solicit input and answer questions about potential projects outlined in our IMP. If and when BMC decides to move forward with an application for any of the projects proposed in the IMP, the hospital would be subject to a full, separate city review, and we would work closely with neighbors and the city of Boston to mitigate impacts to the community.

BMC's spokesman also points out that some of the projects were carried over from the hospital’s last master plan.

The neighbors who spoke with Boston 25 News say they had no idea the hospital was thinking about an expansion of this magnitude. They plan on showing up in force on Wednesday night at a public meeting with BMC’s community task force.