With questions, Jones Hill neighbors welcome St. Mary’s project

The proposed height and view of the new residential building at the St. Mary’s Center on Jones Hill from a vantage point on Windermere Road. St. Mary’s worked with neighbors over the summer to refine the proposal.
Rendering courtesy of Weston & Sampson

The Jones Hill Association (JHA) has been working with St. Mary’s Center on its proposed major renovation and new construction project for the past several months, and so far, leaders at JHA said, the concept has been welcomed.

St. Mary’s officially filed its letter of intent with city officials last week to renovate the former St. Margaret’s Hospital area and build a new residential building where the parking garage and North Building are located.

While many in the surrounding neighborhoods found out about the project just last week, JHA President Stephen McBride said they have been working with the center since February on rough outlines of the renovations.

“I haven’t heard anything in terms of pushback, but their facilities are in major need of upgrades,” he said. “Families are living in hospital rooms and it’s not conducive to families living in a dignified state…The new building is a bigger building, but they’ve been working to make sure it’s not higher than the existing structures but maybe expands out more on the footprint.”

Unlike some other areas of Dorchester, McBride said most in the Jones Hill area haven’t been concerned about expanding the population of formerly homeless families and individuals in the facility because the center already serves them.

“It’s not new and it’s populations they are already serving,” he said. “They are good neighbors and I think that’s what you see here with the receptiveness of the community to their proposal.”

That said, there are important questions that need to be asked and answered, he said. So far, the plans presented to Jones Hill have been rough ideas, and now that there are more firm plans, the city’s Article 80 city process for development will lend itself to neighbors getting detailed answers.

Personally, McBride said, he is excited about the project. “Given all the conversations now with affordability concerns in Boston, it’s really the right time for something like this,” he said. “I’m happy Jones Hill has been able to help out in this way.”

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