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South Bay Expansion Planned - Community Charrette March 9, 2013

Community Invited to Share Ideas

In response to "rumors" of a possible South Bay Mall expansion, residents and community groups have been organizing to ready themselves as active participants in conversations about the development.

The next opportunity for group involvement is taking place Saturday, March 9 and the community is invited to express ideas and concerns, to make suggestions and to help everyone take advantage of an opportunity to better their community. Anyone with an entrenched opinion, far-reaching (and ordinary) ideas or just plain interested in what is going on is invited to attend the charrette.

History of Community Efforts (below - click here)

South Bay Mall Expansion CharretteCommunity Charrette on South Bay Expansion
Sat, Mar 9, 2013 9am - 12noon

Local 12 Plumbers and Gasfitters Hall
1240 Mass Ave at Allstate Road
Dorchester (just outside South Bay)

Bring your vision and concerns for the area
Coffee and light pastries will be served
For more information or to RSVP


Facebook: /CitizensConnectToSouthBay

or Click Here

Expansion of South Bay in Planning Stages

At the January 15, 2013 meeting of the McCormack Civic Association, attendees discussed what appears to be an impending expansion of the South Bay Mall. Residents nearby to the mall have noted workers (surveyors) measuring around properties between Boston Street and South Bay although the workers refused to say what they were doing. This is pretty standard behavior as field technicians easily raise the concerns of residents who have not been given any notice of work that is taking place.

The civic organization is particularly sensitive to maintaining a professional level of community input to the project. Change is coming so gathering as much input from residents as possible while working proactively with the developers appears to be the best approach.

Under these circumstances, the McCormack Civic Association plans to work proactively and has already held several outreach meetings. They also engaged a UMass Boston civil planning class to help organize neighborhood information including demographic data on residents who live close to the mall.

One interesting point is that some good may come out of the new developments as the traffic along Boston Street and connecting roads is a problem. Residents have cited the need for changes to traffic patterns to help alleviate congestion and dangerous driving. As an example, the association has already sent a proposal to Brian McKinley at the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) to make both Clapp and Enterprise Streets one-way in opposite directions to help with traffic flow and parking.

Charrette Planned for Community

3D mockups of the area, called charettes, provide residents and others concerned about the possible expansion an opportunity to "investigate" first hand the implications, especially regarding traffic and congestion.

While the group had originally decided to hold a planning charrette at UMass Boston, they have instead obtained permission to hold the meeting a bit closer to home, at the Local 12 Plumbers and Gasfitters Hall on Mass Ave just outside South Bay. As much involvement as possible by stakeholders is the goal of this meeting - brainstorming ideas, presentations and the group working toward a collective consensus.

Architect, Erik Miller, will help run the charrette and compile ideas gathered there into one cohesive plan to be presented at two follow-up meetings on April 6th & April 27th.  Erik is the Acting Director at the Center for Community and Learning Partnerships at Wentworth Institute of Technology  and also on the board of directors for the Community Design Resource Center (CDRC) of Boston which provides pro-bono design work for non-profits and community organizations.

Charrette Goals

Susan Capachione, an active member of CitizensConnectToSouthBay, recently described the objectives of the upcoming March 9 community charrette in more detail.

"Part of the reason for the charrette on March 9 is to identify some of the resident concerns for the area in question and also gather input from them on how they would like to express their ideas and on what they would like to see built there."

She emphasized the need for "having a seat at the table" before the table walks away. But more than that, time is of the essence. The developers are likely to move ahead quickly. If residents are not ready with a coherent presentation, they may get left behind.


"Owners and developers are in talks now and we want to make sure we have a seat at the table since, as abutters, we naturally want to make sure that whatever is built works with the community and its goals.   When the time comes for the developers to meet with the community groups, it would be nice to already have a cohesive idea on what the residents want to see - there won't be time to go back to the drawing table so we're trying to be proactive."

More about CitizensConnectToSouthBay

A group of residents from the neighborhoods surrounding South Bay have been working on the "Mall Expansion" project since January of 2013.  Their formation was an outcropping of the McCormack meetings since the closest residents to the South Bay Center fall within the McCormack Association's border.  As a way of furthering their efforts, they brought the expansion issue to the McCormack Civic Association’s attention. 

UMass has been very helpful with the group's formation.  Their assistance led to the creation of a more cohesive group with a clearer vision.  Initial efforts also included brainstorming for a name, hence "Citizens Connect to South Bay." 

CitizensConnectToSouthBay maintains a Facebook page.  Be sure to Like the Facebook page so you will get their updates.

Facebook: /CitizensConnectToSouthBay or click below:


Posted: March 6, 2013     Nancy J Conrad

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