BPDA Board adopts PLAN: Mattapan planning initiative
May 11, 2023
The BPDA Board of Directors adopted the final PLAN: Mattapan planning initiative at their monthly board meeting. The adoption of the Plan comes nearly five years after the initiative began in October 2018. Over the course of more than 150 community meetings, Mattapan residents and community stakeholders worked alongside the planning team to craft a vision and goals for their neighborhood’s future, and establish planning recommendations. These recommendations lay the groundwork for a more affordable, equitable, and resilient Mattapan. The recommendations include backyard Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs), mobility improvements and mixed-use zoning that will cultivate a 10-minute neighborhood, transit improvements, and promoting investment in Mattapan Square and opportunities to strengthen local businesses.
"PLAN: Mattapan lays out a community-driven vision for an affordable, connected, and safe neighborhood for current and future residents and visitors,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “These recommendations envision new opportunities for investment in a community that has historically experienced disinvestment, create a path forward for more residents to build generational wealth, and boost economic activity in Mattapan Square."
“I’d like to thank the community for their attention and collaboration with staff on this planning initiative over the last five years,” said Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison. “In that time, I believe what staff has developed is a thoughtful, carefully laid out plan that will help to increase generational wealth, address historic inequities, allow existing residents to flourish and thrive in their neighborhood, and reinvest in Mattapan to grow it into a vibrant and thriving community.”
"Although Mattapan is the neighborhood with the highest rate of Black homeownership in the city, it still faces serious social and economic disparities. The neighborhood lacks sit-down restaurants and other establishments that make for thriving neighborhoods. We must continue to focus on ways to increase generational wealth, address historic inequities, and most importantly avoid displacing existing residents,” said Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune. “PLAN Mattapan's goal of economic and transit-oriented development, with a focus on affordable housing growth, is the right idea. Making it easier for homeowners to add additional dwelling units, partnering with community land trusts on creative solutions, and working with current landlords must be part of building a more resilient Mattapan that works for current and future residents. Embracing Mattapan‘s character & charm - a neighborhood teeming with generational families and strong Caribbean identities - must be centered in order for the growth we want to be successful."
“PLAN: Mattapan represents a significant investment in our community that will increase economic opportunities, enhance transportation networks, and improve access to green spaces, while also preserving Mattapan’s unique history and culture," said Rep. Fluker Oakley (D-Mattapan). "As a native resident, I commend the planning team for their in-depth collaboration with the community, and for producing a plan that honors residents’ vision for making Mattapan a more resilient and equitable place to live and for our residents to age in place.”
In response to Mattapan residents’ desire for multi-generational, affordable housing that fits a wider array of household sizes and needs, the Plan recommends allowing backyard Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs). ADUs can also provide extra income if they are rented out, and create generational wealth in communities of color. The next step is a zoning feasibility study to determine how to responsibly implement and regulate backyard ADUs in Mattapan. Implementing ADUs will also allow more diverse housing options for households that may require less space, such as seniors or young, single adults.
PLAN: Mattapan also focuses on transforming Mattapan into a 10-minute neighborhood where essential services, retail, parks, and transportation are no more than a 10-minute walk from any resident’s doorstep. This transformation will require zoning changes, mobility improvements, and urban and landscape design strategies that activate the public realm. PLAN: Mattapan recommends expanding mixed-use zoning throughout the neighborhood, creating new hubs for services and retail throughout Mattapan, as well as expanding multi-family zoning along the majority of Mattapan’s corridors, and encouraging transit-oriented development projects that will allow residents to be closer to jobs, transit, and other services.
"The PLAN: Mattapan process has been seen as not an endpoint, but a beginning,” said Chair of the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council Fatima Ali-Salaam. “Planning is a living process, which allows for flexibility and growth; and to readily make corrective actions when required for public health and safety. Mattapan is an environmental and economic justice community; we look forward to working to preserve the existing unique environmental and cultural aspects of our community while preventing displacement and gentrification."
In addition, PLAN: Mattapan targets the Go Boston 2030 goal of having every home within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit, bikeshare, and car share. GoHubs!—mobility hubs which combine bikeshare, car share, and transit access alongside public art and information in one central location – are recommended to be implemented at key intersections or community destinations throughout Mattapan. Currently, only 59 percent of Mattapan’s households are within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit, bikeshare, and car share. This figure would increase to 98 percent with expanded access to GoHubs! locations and new pedestrian shortcuts, like a second entrance to Morton Street Station. The Plan will also guide increased access to high-quality travel options, supporting safe and reliable connections within Mattapan and the rest of the City. Recommendations include improved bus and rail networks that will make transit travel more reliable, reduce the number of transfers, and provide more direct access to jobs, schools, and other important destinations. PLAN: Mattapan also recommends improvements to the walking and biking networks to make it safer to travel to neighborhood destinations and implementing slow street design tools to result in safer speeds, turns, and street crossings.
With access to and preservation of green space a high priority for Mattapan residents, the Plan also focuses on enhancing and expanding Boston’s Green Links Network to better connect Mattapan residents to their neighborhood’s wealth of parks and natural reserves. The existing Green Links network of on and off-street connections is underdeveloped due to barriers presented by waterways, steep hills, railroads, and major streets. An expanded Green Links Network would make it easier for people to walk or bike to parks and open spaces directly from their home through safer street crossings and new paths, on-street bikeways, and use of low-traffic residential streets.
Directing equitable, focused investment in Mattapan Square will also be a key priority of implementing PLAN: Mattapan, as the Square is an important economic and cultural hub for the neighborhood. Residents have advocated for more diverse retail options and an enhanced public realm that will draw more visitors to the area. City leaders, including those from the Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, will soon be convening property owners in the Square for an open dialogue on the Square’s future, to ensure collaboration and cooperation from all partners.
One of the plan’s short-term implementation items identified by the community was support for the creation of temporary public art in Mattapan. The PLAN: Mattapan Public Art Project supported the creation of temporary public art in the Mattapan neighborhood via two mural projects: one at the Mattapan Teen Center, and one at the Carter Post. Both projects were funded through BPDA grants.
“The mural project we led, supported by the BPDA, was literally and figuratively a beautiful moment for our Teen Center. That the BPDA gave full autonomy to ten of our teens to create art on such a large scale was incredible," said Club Director of the Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center Rick Aggeler. "As importantly, all of our neighbors say it adds a colorful and welcoming energy to our street. I’m very grateful to the members from the BPDA who helped bring this artwork to life here in Mattapan through the PLAN: Mattapan planning process!”
With the adoption of PLAN: Mattapan by the BPDA Board, staff will begin conducting an analysis of existing buildings in Mattapan to draft zoning language that matches Mattapan’s neighborhood residential fabric and makes appropriate ADUs possible. The BPDA has already contracted with Office of Office, a national expert on implementing effective ADU programs that advance community vision and equity. In addition, staff will convene Mattapan Square businesses and property owners in advance of future Squares and Corridors Rezoning.
The BPDA is leading an unprecedented number of planning studies in Boston’s communities, each guided by Imagine Boston 2030, the first city-wide master plan in 50 years aimed at guiding growth. In South Boston, the South Boston Transportation Action Plan (SBTAP) is an ongoing transportation planning process that will culminate in Fall 2023. There are also neighborhood planning studies moving forward in Charlestown, Downtown, Newmarket and East Boston.