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Elderly housing, center for teens top choices for reuse of old Mattapan Library

Posted by Patrick Rosso  December 5, 2012 04:28 PM

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(Image courtesy the Department of Neighborhood Development)

A look at the inside of the Hazleton Street library.

The city is preparing to sell off a Hazelton Street property in Mattapan and on Tuesday night listened to what residents think would fit at the location.

Everything was suggested from a teen center to an elder care facility for the property that was once home to the Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public Library.

Constructed in 1931, the building housed at 10 Hazleton St. was the neighborhood’s library until a new one was constructed and opened on Blue Hill Avenue in 2009.

Now the Department of Neighborhood Development, after a vote by the City Council in 2012, is looking to develop a Request for Proposal for the property, which has sat lightly used since the new building was constructed.

The 13,700-square-foot parcel the 7,800-square-foot structure resides on was assessed in 2012 for close $2-million, according to the city’s Assessing Department.

“This is our first foray into the disposition of this property,” Dwan Packnet, a project manager for the Department of Neighborhood Development, which oversees the property, told residents Tuesday. “What would be a good addition to the neighborhood?”

At the Blue Hill Avenue library Tuesday night the close to 40 residents in attendance had a number of suggestions for future use.

Direct neighbors and area residents also listed the things that wouldn’t fit in the residential neighborhood -- among them a “social club” and a church.

“I’d really like to see something like a senior center that would close in the evening,” Joyce White, a 41-year Hazleton street resident said. “Parking is a nightmare [on Hazleton Street]. To have anything where people would park and stay is a no-no.”

Senior services seemed to be what many saw as a good fit for the property.

“I wouldn’t mind senior housing or assisted living with a community room,” said C.C. Williams, an area resident.

“I think what we need in this community is a center for elderly adults,” said David Haynes, a Hazleton Street resident.

The majority of neighbors said they would like to see the property used for something that will have the smallest impact on parking and the neighborhood.

The property poses a number of challenges for any potential developer and possible use for the property.

It is situated in a zoning district that only allows as-of-right some limited residential use.

Use as a community center, day care, or place of worship are not outright forbidden at the property, but the majority of commercial and non small-scale residential uses violate the Article 60 Zoning Code, resulting in a city and community review process.

In addition to the zoning, Chris Rooney, a project manager for DND, said the department will not allow the brick building to be demolished, which was described by many as “stunning” and “beautiful”.

“There’s no way we’re going let someone touch this building,” said Rooney.

While a number of comments were taken Tuesday, the city is just in the preliminary phase of developing a RFP for the property, which the city would like to put out to bid by late winter or early spring of 2013.

The RFP will include community suggestions and will help guide parties interested in purchasing the property, providing a template for what uses for the property and building the community will support.

“This is the first step in that drafting process,” said Rooney. “If there is no consensus like support for a project, it won’t move forward.”

Over the next couple of months a draft development plan will be generated by DND and presented to the community for feedback.

The department is expected to present the plan to the community sometime in January. Once more feedback has been gathered an RFP will be created and put out for bid.

After the submission deadline a committee of city personnel and nominated community members will review applications and make a selection. Prior to any official designation the developer will have to appear before the community to discuss their plan.

Those interested in providing comments to DND about the property can contact Chris Rooney at (617) 635-0493 or by email

Those who like to nominate a community member to the RFP committee can contact Walter Apperwhite at the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services by calling (617) 635-3485 or emailing

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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