(Image courtesy MBTA)
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority told Mattapan residents Monday night that it is reviving efforts to develop property at the Mattapan MBTA Station.
The concept is not a new one for the community. The MBTA had proposed the plan nearly four years ago but put it on hold because of the economy.
Now with a slightly better economy. the T is back and looking for developers.
“The economy is still not as good as we hoped but we still think that Mattapan station is ripe for development,” said Mark Boyle, assistant general manager for development at the MBTA.
Although plans are still rough, the MBTA would like to develop the approximately 2.5-acre parking lot next to the station into a mixed-use commercial, residential and retail structure.
Concerns were raised at the meeting at the Mattapan Branch Library about what would happen if the parking lot, which can hold up to 250 cars, were developed and how that could affect traffic and parking.
“This is a great opportunity to get some retail and housing in that area, but my only concern is parking and traffic,” said Mattapan resident Bobby Jenkins.
T officials said that the parking lot on average only holds about 25 cars and any development would be required to provide ample parking for commuters and residents.
“We believe there certainly some surplus space for development,” Boyle said.
Because the area is used as a turnaround for the buses that run to Mattapan Station, the T has come up with two potential site options for prospective developers.
The first option would still have buses circling around the parking lot’s perimeter, while the second option would divide the lot for a bus cutthrough.
MBTA officials said first concern finding a plan that does not interfere with the buses and the safety of commuters.
“We are totally flexible [with proposals] so long as it doesn’t interfere with buses and pedestrian safety,” Boyle said.
MBTA officials also informed residents that the property will not be sold but will offered as a long term lease and will still be subject to city zoning code and depending on the size Article 80 review.
Many in the audience were also excited to see the project getting started but many had concerns about who would be doing the work.
“What we don’t like is people from New Hampshire coming in and getting all the jobs,” said Mattapan resident and Local 7 Iron Worker David Eastmond.
MBTA officials agreed and said along with bringing jobs to the community the project would work to specifically create partnerships and participation from minority and women developers on all aspects of the project.
Along with the potential jobs the possibility of bringing in new businesses was a highlight for residents.
“If we are going to have housing we’d like to have some upscale businesses that can provide services we don’t have,” said Mattapan resident Barbara Crichlow.
Even with the excitement in the room the MBTA still has a lot of work ahead of them.
They hope to have developers submitting proposals by spring 2012 and expect to close on a deal by fall 2012, which will be reviewed by residents before a final decision is made.