Residents start to plan for South Bay retail expansion

Mike Deehan, Special to the Reporter
Mar. 14, 2013

Plans to further expand the South Bay shopping center may not be definite yet, but residents living near the mall aren’t waiting for development plans to materialize before putting in their two cents.

At a meeting Saturday morning, abutters, neighbors and other stakeholders met in a charrette-style conference to determine the community’s vision for an expanded South Bay.

According to McCormack Civic Association Executive Board member Desmond Rohan, approximately 70 people from Dorchester, Roxbury and South Boston met at the nearby Plumber/Gasfitters Local 12 building to discuss the possibilities involved in an expansion and what locals would like to see built.

Participants offered up a litany of concerns about the project, including increased traffic congestion, parking shortages and the potential impact on the surrounding residential areas.

In a charrette meeting, participants break off from the main discussion to form smaller group to generate ideas and to document plans. The groups then present their plans to the whole meeting and the preferred features of each group’s contribution are included in a master plan.

After a committee meeting next Monday (March 18), design specialist Erik Miller, director of Wentworth’s Center for Community & Learning Partnerships, will combine elements of the nine maps submitted by the subgroups and compile one vision to speak on the community’s behalf.

Rohan told the Reporter that many of the ideas brought to the table concerned traffic flow in and around a potentially expanded South Bay mall. The community also brainstormed features they would like to see added alongside any new large retail stores, including a community center or other community oriented space, areas for restaurants and a design that would support small businesses anchored by the shopping center. Also of concern was the protection of the Dorchester Historical Society, which abuts the area eyed for development between Boston Street and South Bay.

A second community meeting will be held the morning of April 6 at the Plumbers Hall to offer residents a presentation on community planning and smart growth ideas that could include the neighborhood’s interests. A final plan is scheduled to be put before the community on May 4 at the Plumbers’ Hall.