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Dorchester’s Quincy Street Corridor gets $100 million investment

Martin Desmarais | 10/30/2013, 12:49 p.m.
Over a few short blocks of Quincy St. in Dorchester, beginning on Blue Hill Ave. and heading east to Columbia ...
Jorge Martinez, executive director of Project RIGHT, speaks during the visit of Mayor Thomas Menino, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Massachusetts Housing Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein to the sites of the development currently underway along Quincy St. in Dorchester. Photo by Travis Watson

“If you organize enough people and money you can do all this stuff. And a lot of this is partnerships, collaborations, but also the residents themselves. And that is where the spirit and soul of the neighborhood is and there are a lot of smart people at every block and if you get them together they will do good things. That is where the organizing comes in. If you don’t do that you are just building buildings. And doing things for people isn’t as good as people learning to fight for themselves.”

A large boost to the Quincy Heights project was the awarding of a $20.5 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant in September 2011. Through the project, Boston is one of only five cities in the country to receive a HUD Choice Neighborhoods grant, which is targeted to re-develop distressed housing with affordable housing.

On Oct. 24, Mayor Thomas Menino, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein visited the site of Pearl Small Business Food Production Center to recognize the efforts along Quincy Street.

“Today marks the start of a new era for your neighborhood,” Menino said. “This is a rare opportunity. In these tough financial times there are not many $20 million grants out there. And I am going to personally hold people’s feet to the fire on this.”

HUD’s Donovan said a key to the success of the Quincy Street development so far and the awarding of the Choice Neighborhoods grant was the strong vision for the neighborhood that all the development partners have. He pointed out that Boston was the first city in the country to start work on a project with its grant.

“When we looked around the country to give one of our first five Choice Neighborhoods awards we looked for places that had a vision and a partnership just like is represented here,” Donovan said. “That’s what we were looking for and, boy, did we get it right. You do have the best neighborhood transformation effort in the country and we want to replicate it all over this country.”

Mass Housing’s Gornstein praised the Quincy Street development for tying together affordable housing with good schools and with economic development.

“This project demonstrates that we can undertake revitalization to the benefit of the current residents, as well as the future residents of this neighborhood,” said Gornstein. “So preservation of affordable housing and avoiding resident displacement is the key to the success of Choice Neighborhoods in Boston. I think it should be a lesson for other communities around the country – you can revitalize neighborhoods to the benefit of the current residents.”