Chairman: Kroc Center close to fund goal

The money gap that has held up the construction of a new community center on Dudley Street is gradually closing - and could soon be filled entirely. That's the word from Soveriegn Bank chairman John Hamill, who is heading up the capital drive for the Salvation Army's Kroc Center.

In a letter to potential donors sent out last week, Hamill says that the fund drive is just $4 million "away from our goal." The $115 million project could begin this June, according to the Salvation Army, if Hamill's appeal to new donors is successful. In his letter, dated Feb. 12, Hamill says he is asking 200 friends and companies to pledge dollars that will be matched six to one with incentives from the New Markets Tax Credit program. The hitch: the new commitments must be pledged by mid-March for the $13 million in tax credits to be awarded.

The 90,000 square foot Kroc Center, if built, will transform a long forlorn stretch of Dudley Street near the Uphams Corner MBTA station. The Salvation Army picked the Dorchester site in 2006 after a competitive process. The chief funding for the community center comes from a gift from Ray and Joan Kroc, the founders of the McDonald's restaurant chain.