MBTA plans to revive its project at Mattapan Square

By 
Alex Owens, Special to the Reporter
Jun. 26, 2009

The MBTA and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) held a community meeting at the Mildred Ave. community center on Tuesday regarding the T’s plans to revive a stalled transit-oriented development (TOD) project at Mattapan Station. The initiative is aimed at bringing new mixed-use commercial and residential buildings into Mattapan Square. The transit agency hopes that the development will be built on and adjacent to the current site of the Mattapan Station parking lot, the approximately 2.5 acre asphalt area to the north east of the station.

The Mattapan TOD project has been in the works since 2003. After numerous extensions, the project was postponed when the original developers— Economic Development Finance Corporation and Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation —were unable to secure funds for the project. A similar TOD project at Ashmont station — The Carruth building that fronts Dorchester Avenue on land formerly used by the T— has been completed.

On Tuesday, MBTA officials announced its intent to lease the land —valued at $3.4 million — to developers for a period of 85 years. The agency is now crafting a Request for Proposals that will outline its requirements for awarding the project to experienced developers who would be able to demonstrate a source of funding for a new building on the site. The MBTA would also allow for a fundraising period instead of demanding a large sum of money upfront.

The MBTA has worked with community organizations such as Mattapan Community Development Corporation, to meet neighborhood needs, but many residents expressed feeling of a lack of respect on the MBTA part for community input.

“You are taking down our questions, but when are we going to get answers?» asked community activist Barbara Crichlow.

Other concerns dealt with providing jobs to local residents, noise, safety and the impact on existing businesses in the area. The development proposal also raised concerns about construction on River Street, one of the most heavily trafficked roads in Mattapan. Dana Whiteside, a deputy director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, assured residents that an impact advisory group would be required for a project of such magnitude.

State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry urged community members to use the emerging TOD project at Mattapan station to voice their opinions further.

“This is where we have an opportunity to make a commitment to come together and get more people involved,” Forry said.
MBTA officials say the TOD plans would not be finalized until the Route 28X bus proposal is discussed with the community. A June 30 meeting regarding the Route 28X line is planned at either the Mattapan branch Boston Public Library or the Mildred Ave. community center.