Plan calls for apartments, storefronts in Four Corners

Martin Desmarais | 5/1/2014, 9:16 a.m.
Vietnamese American Initiative for Development is slated to start construction this fall on a $14.5 million housing and commercial development ...
The Vietnamese American Initiative for Development has proposed a $14.5 million new development in Four Corners that includes two buildings with both housing and commercial space. The project has 35 units of affordable housing. (Image courtesy of Viet-AID)

“This process is just a gateway to continue the development and revitalization of that whole district,” she said.

She added that there is a great sense of excitement to see what Viet-AID can do with its project and the impact it will have. “It will definitely be a good thing for the businesses to have more residential housing in that area and having more foot traffic in that area to revitalize the businesses. I know they are excited about that also.”

Since the new Fairmont line MBTA stops have gone in, a wider eye has been cast to neighborhoods in the region and development to capitalize on the increased public transportation options into the city, but long-time residents have been quick to voice fears about gentrification.

Andrews-Blake believes Viet-AID has shown with past projects that it can quell these fears and produce needed affordable housing and bring in the right business tenants.

“We have to make sure that people in the neighborhood have a voice about things that come in the neighborhood and things that happen in the neighborhood so that things like gentrification don’t happen,” she said.

Viet-AID is already two years into working with the community and partners in developing the project. Nam points out that this project was not planned first and then presented to the community to be altered based on input — it was developed from the start based on the wants and needs of the community.

“We engaged with them every step of the way. We are very proud to say we have established a very close working relationship with all the stakeholders in the area,” Nam said. “The foundation of the success of any project that we have done is a good partnership with the community and the only way to have good partnership with the community is you have to engage the community from Day One.”

This is reflected in the design of each building to include affordable housing, retail space and a community room. “This is exactly what the community wanted,” Nam said.

“We always have high hopes for every project, but I think for this one having worked with the community with this project we have been able to establish very good partnerships,” he added. “We are excited we can leverage these wonderful relationships to create more opportunities for the neighborhood.”

Marvin Martin, executive director of the Greater Four Corners Action Coalition, confirms Viet-AID’s efforts to engage the community on the project and led the process through which residents could look at housing space, commercial development opportunities and examine concerns such as increased traffic and lack of affordable housing.

Martin pointed out the parcels on which the project is slated were specifically identified by residents as a good place for mixed housing and commercial development.

“Viet-AID came to meetings. … They heard what people were looking for,” Martin said. “They came back with a project that had what the community was looking for so we supported them on that.

“At this point everyone is very supportive of this project. We think it is going to make a difference particularly at that intersection,” he added.