Neighbors to meet Saturday on plans for South Bay mall

By 
Mike Deehan, Special to the Reporter
Mar. 7, 2013

Residents along Dorchester’s northern border have long dealt with the double-edged knife of convenience and frustration that comes with living next to a major shopping center. As developers look to expand the South Bay Center, the collection of big box stores nestled between the Southeast Expressway and Massachusetts Avenue, neighbors are beginning to organize in an effort to learn more about potential plans and to respond in kind.

The community is invited to a public meeting this Saturday (March 9) to discuss the future of South Bay and to help assemble a preferred plan made of features the neighborhood would like to see accompany any further development of the shopping district.

Spearheaded by the McCormack Civic Association, the meeting will take place at 9 a.m. at the Plumber/Gasfitters Local 12 building at 1240 Massachusetts Avenue, just outside the South Bay Center. The charrette-style session will include multiple groups of participants working together to determine and agree on a common vision for the area.

Last fall, plans originating from the Boston-based development firm Samuels & Associates and calling for the dramatic enlargement of the mall were uncovered and distributed to residents around the neighborhood. The firm said at the time that it was in the “very early stages” of a possible project in Dorchester. The conceptual plan listed a Lowe’s and a BJ’s Wholesale Club as possible tenants of new “big box” style buildings.

At several meeting over the past six months, concerned residents have expressed interest in addressing problems caused by traffic – neighbors have asked the city to address traffic flow problems along Boston Street – and other issues surrounding increased activity at the South Bay mall. Residents living close to the mall have reported seeing surveyors at sites adjacent to the mall taking measurements around properties between Boston Street and South Bay. Neighbors claim the surveyors refused to say who they were working for or what they were doing.

Another development has been the creation of a Facebook group, “Citizens Connect to South Bay,” which means “to gather proactive community input” about South Bay. The page links to websites for the McCormack Civic group, the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association, and the Dorchester Historical Society. The URL for the group is: facebook.com/CitizensConnectToSouthBay.