Community Development Remains Central Theme at TCC Meeting
BOSTON, MA – A busy last meeting for summer of the Chinatown Coalition (TCC) took place on Thursday, 14 July 2011 at 9:30 AM at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC). The productive meeting concluded with discussions about various building projects benefiting the Chinese community throughout Greater Boston.
The meeting commenced with a report to the community from Chinatown Trust Fund on its work from 2004 to 2010.
It all started in 1987, when visionary Chinatown community members formed a minority-owned joint venture and seized a unique opportunity to build on a vacant land parcel while creating specific community benefits for Chinatown. Today the vacant land parcel is replaced by One Lincoln Street, a building few back then believed could be completed turned into one of the most successful real estate development projects ever accomplished in Boston. As promised, seventeen years later in 2004, $2.6 million was contributed by Columbia Plaza Associates, Kingston-Bedford Joint Venture and CI Associates to Community Development Fund for Chinatown, administered by Chinatown Trust Fund, for capital projects, youth and family services, cultural and community events, public safety, job training, ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and adult education, and business district improvement. With interest earned to date, the Trust has provided more than $2.8 million in loans and grants to local organizations.
Between 2004 and 2010, Chinatown Trust Fund has awarded a total of 56 grants. Among all, $1,836,470 (64%) was distributed for 10 capital projects including office condos, building improvements and renovations, a new job training and education center, and a loan commitment for elderly housing; $625,300 (22%) was provided for youth development, family services and cultural events; $174,293 (6%) was in support of English language instruction and job training programs; and $135,349 (5%) was granted to public safety and business district upkeep. As of 2010, the total amount paid by Community Development Fund over the past seven years (2004 – 2010) was $2,808,545, with highlight programs like Mount Hope Memorial, Chinatown Crime Watch, Chinatown Adventure, etc. With all that accomplished, the Fund’s administrative expenses, which consisted of financial, project management and facilities costs, totaled $73,555 (3%).
After the report, the meeting’s focus was then transferred to a land parcel fifteen minutes’ walk away from One Lincoln Street, Boston Herald’s Harrison Avenue property in South End. Filling the block between Harrison Avenue, Herald, Albany, and Traveler Streets, the century-old property now houses few departments of Boston Herald personnel who will move out before the end of this year. Purchased by National Development, developer for this project, the place is now in the planning process of being transformed into a new neighborhood hub optionally named “Herald Square.” Representatives from National Development explained to the meeting that they have incorporated 240 ready-made parking spaces, retail spaces, and residential areas into the developing plan, in hopes of rejuvenating the place and making it a high-density quarter attractive to residents and merchants alike. However, the meeting felt the developer’s plan was not based on accurate statistics, and the Chinatown representatives expressed hopes for more affordable housing, more three-bedroomed apartments for families, more open spaces for recreational purposes, and even more density. National Development took note of the feedback from this meeting, and will be having more public hearings and neighborhood meetings for this project in the future.
The next thing brought up at the meeting was an announcement that Friends of the Chinatown Library is now gearing up for the establishment of a Chinatown Cultural Center. Their vision is to develop a community-based cultural center and multi-purpose space with library services, exhibition spaces, arts and performances functions, as well as education facilities. A meeting had been held the day prior about the project budget, and the organization is also recruiting for a Start-Up Manager to lead its efforts.
Thursday’s meeting concluded with an announcement of the conclusion of yet another building project. Representatives from Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC) introduced the newly-constructed 6 Ford Street Apartments in Quincy, Massachusetts. It is the conversion of old Saint Paul’s Methodist Church and the former Adams Park office building into thirty-four (34) contemporary and affordable residences: Twenty-six (26) units are available at discounted rents through a lottery process, while eight (8) are offered with “Section 8 Project-Based Rent Subsidy” with consideration for the applicants’ income level. Both types provide one-, two- and three-bedroom options. Applications have been made available since June 21, and occupancy will be starting in September 2011. For more information or reasonable accommodations please call Maloney Properties at (617) 209-5401 or visit 6FortStreetApartments.com.
TCC will be reconvene on Thursday, September 8th, at 9:30 AM at the BCNC 4th-floor Conference Room.