‘Conceptual’ plan would site new shopping center next to South Bay

By 
Mike Deehan Special to the Reporter
Sep. 22, 2011

A Boston development firm has begun working on a “conceptual” plan to acquire and re-develop several tracts of land along Boston Street adjacent to the South Bay Mall, according to civic activists who discussed the emerging plan at the monthly meeting of the McCormack Civic Association on Tuesday night.

McCormack Civic executive board member Desmond Rohan described the shopping expansion plan as “strictly conceptual” and said that no land-acquisitions have yet taken place. However, Rohan said the civic group has been provided with a copy of the plan designed by the developer Samuels & Associates, the same Boston firm that created the South Bay Mall in the 1990s.

In a statement issued to the Reporter yesterday, Samuels & Associates confirmed that the company is in “the very early stages of exploring a possible project in Dorchester."

“As part of this process we have created some conceptual plans that include possible ideas for a site,” the statement read. “However these materials are for our internal purposes only and are still too preliminary for a full public discussion. At this time we’re still working with current landowners to determine if it’s possible to purchase the properties for a future development. We’re fully committed to engage the community in a dialogue around any project we might pursue.”

The proposal, as described at the Tuesday meeting, would involve siting properties between the ScrubaDub Autowash on West Howell St. and extending building to include the property now occupied by the Pipefitters Training center, Verizon, and the Aggregate Cement company along Enterprise Street. Rohan said representatives from the McCormack, Andrew Square, and Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Associations have already met to discuss the plan and any preparations the community should take up.

Boston Street development 'concept' map: This illustration has been circulating among civic activists in recent weeks. Samuels & Associates says the map was intended for internal use only and that no deals are in place with the companies named on the map— BJ's and Lowes. Boston Street development 'concept' map: This illustration has been circulating among civic activists in recent weeks. Samuels & Associates says the map was intended for internal use only and that no deals are in place with the companies named on the map— BJ's and Lowes. A sketch of a proposed shopping center on the site — which includes the corporate logos of Lowe’s and BJ’s Wholesale Club— was also circulated to members of the group. Rohan said that the Samuels & Associates office has told him that Lowe’s is looking to build a store within the Boston city limits and that the Boston Street site is one of several sites under consideration. “There’s a lot of vacant land back there and it’s only going to become more vacant,” Rohan said.

Rohan said the Dorchester Historical Society, which would be a direct abutter under the plan, will be involved with the civic associations in organizing a community response to the potential development. The Historical Society would like any potential development to include greenspace, possibly an orchard, and some method of obscuring the shopping buildings from sight, according to Rohan.

A meeting where the involved civic groups will discuss the emerging plan has been scheduled for Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Carpenter’s Center on Dorchester Ave.