Did you know that Mattapan’s roadways and thoroughfares are some of the most heavily traveled in the City? Morton Street alone sees 34,000 vehicles per day; Blue Hill Avenue sees upwards of 22,000. Cummins Highway and River Street each boast nearly 20,000 each day. What might it be like for Mattapan to attract these travelers in quality shops, thereby bringing dollars and investment to the neighborhood? This is one of the many questions which the next phase of the MEDI effort will begin to address.
In July 2006, Mayor Thomas M. Menino unveiled the Mattapan Economic Development Initiative (“MEDI”) Action Agenda. This document provides a roadmap and framework for activities to improve the economics and quality of life for the Mattapan – namely through:
(1) Improving the business districts of Mattapan Square, Blue Hill Avenue Center and the Morton Street Village Corridor;
(2) Creating job opportunities within the neighborhood; and
(3) Increasing capital investment in commercial areas and properties.
The Mayor charged City agencies, led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, to work with the community to make into reality the vision and recommendations set forth within the MEDI Economic Action Agenda. To further jump-start implementation, he committed “$250,000 in seed capital” to support viable commercial/retail real estate development and announced the hiring of two MEDI Business Development Managers (“BDM’s”)to coordinate business efforts, providing direct access to City and private resources that support small business growth.
Business Development Managers worked diligently to connect with, and provide assistance to the over 250 small businesses and establishments along Mattapan’s commercial corridors. Their work included the coordination of meetings with businesses operators and property owners to introduce them to the wide array of municipal and private sector services to help expand or improve their property. As a result, the Mattapan neighborhood will see an infusion of BLDC (Boston Local Development Corporation) loan, RESTORE (façade improvement) grants and other sources that will help change the look and feel of the business districts.
The Mayor has also named a Community Implementation Team (“CIT”) to serve in an advisory capacity and take part in guiding the implementation phase working with City agencies to put in place various strategies recommended as part of the MEDI Economic Action Agenda. This advisory board will be charged with:
(1) Providing support for strategies outlined in the MEDI Action Agenda to:
(a) Improve appearance of commercial districts;
(b) Create a Mattapan retail identity;
(c) Advise the BRA and City agencies relative to economic development priorities for MEDI—namely a successful Main Streets designation for Mattapan;
(2) Serving as a resource to the MEDI City Team and related departments through informational review and participation in regular working sessions and development of programs such as the MEDI Neighborhood Retail Program;
(3) Serving in an advisory capacity relative to projects and issues relevant to zoning, real estate development review, business development and community organization in Mattapan;
(4) Providing community representation through active participation in public meetings in addition to communication about the goals, direction and progress of the MEDI with all neighborhood stakeholders; and
(5) Providing support for projects and outreach efforts of the MEDI
Most recently, the CIT has worked with the MEDI City Team to enact the zoning recommendations outlined in the Action Agenda. The recommendations and proposed zoning enhancements seek to nominally increase the amount of density and building heights in the current business districts of Mattapan. Furthermore, the recommendations seek to encourage uses that could better meet the needs of neighborhood residents and discourage uses that detract from a healthy and pedestrian friendly environment.
The zoning recommendations will encourage the Action Agenda’s goal of providing the community a greater access to a diversity of high-quality goods and services, along with a range of housing opportunities. The anticipated goals are commercial districts that are vibrant, pedestrian oriented, and economically successful. Commutatively, the zoning recommendations have the minimum potential to add 100,000 square feet of commercial space, 500 jobs, 700 housing units, and bring an additional $11 million dollars in purchasing power to Mattapan.
The next priority for implementing the recommendations of the MEDI Economic Action Agenda will be facilitating the creation of a long awaited Main Streets designation for Mattapan.
In the coming months, members of the MEDI CIT will work with community stakeholders, business operators and property owners as well as the Department of Neighborhood Development to determine the best way to bring prepare this neighborhood to avail itself of the vast array of resources and services which has led to the success of other flourishing business districts.
Similarly, the MEDI CIT will provide support, advice and guidance for the many real estate development opportunities which present themselves in the Mattapan area, utilizing the design guidelines and usage principles of the MEDI Economic Action Agenda as a basis for ensuring that development in Mattapan reflects neighborhood goals and makes the area a desirable place to live, work, invest and play.