Environmental Justice (EJ)
Case Study

Jackson Square Redevelopment Project, Boston, MA

Project Summary
Planning meeting.
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and Urban Edge Community Development Corporation (UECDC), among others, have formed a partnership to transform 11 acres of public and private land near the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Centre Street in Jackson Square, into a mixed-income, mixed-use, and sustainable transit-oriented development. The proposed project area is situated in an area of Boston in acute need of environmental justice. Some of the developments surrounding the project area include the Academy Homes housing development, the Jackson Square T Station, and the Bromley-Heath housing project, all of which have struggled with issues of poverty, crime, and public safety. In addition, many current residents of Jackson Square suffer from respiratory illness, having among the highest asthma rates in Massachusetts.

The redevelopment project, which will be a model for smart growth development is a great opportunity to advance environmental justice and revitalize the neighborhood. Some of the objectives of the redevelopment include:

  • 429 new housing units; 58 percent of which will be reserved for affordable to low-income families, and an additional 10 percent for affordable to moderate income families;
  • A state-of-the-art youth and family center;
  • Indoor active recreation facilities;
  • 67,000 square feet of small and mid-scale retail space;
  • A variety of new open space areas and plazas;
  • Public realm improvements to encourage pedestrians, bicyclists, and the use of public transit; and
  • An integrated set of economic development strategies to maximize jobs and business opportunities for local residents.

The Jackson Square redevelopment project has incorporated an exemplary amount of community participation from the surrounding EJ neighborhoods. Over the years, JPNDC, UECDC, and a partner organization, the Hyde Square Task Force, which primarily works with youth in and around Hyde Square in Jamaica Plain, have been building strong relationships with community leaders and residents. This existing network has significantly aided the Jackson Square redevelopment outreach effort. Once the project was underway, large, open community meetings were the basis for the visioning and planning process. JPNDC's community organizing staff, which is responsible for, and specifically trained in, community outreach was successful in promoting community attendance at the meetings through a large-scale outreach effort consisting of mailings, phone calls, flyers, and emails. The meetings were held at night or on weekends, when most people could attend, and food was often provided at the meetings.

Overall, there have been over 800 Jamaica Plain and Roxbury residents involved in the planning process with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). These residents have been involved in all phases of the process, including developer selection for design and construction of the project. The project is also continually undergoing project review by a large, representative community advisory committee that was appointed by the Mayor.

In addition, Boston youth have had a key voice in all aspects of the redevelopment planning process, particularly in planning the Youth and Family Center. There are several youth from Jamaica Plain and neighboring areas that meet regularly as part of the existing design team for the project. The Hyde Square Task Force, which is experienced in training youth community leaders, assisted in gaining youth support for the project.

The Jackson Square redevelopment plan will improve current environmental conditions and limit additional adverse impacts through the following project components:

  • Redevelopment of vacant brownfields sites to an active, productive use;
  • Utilization of traffic-calming measures to improve the pedestrian experience;
  • Planting of new street trees, creation of open space, and construction of green roofs to improve air quality and reduce heat island effect;
  • Implementation of integrated sustainable design strategies in all buildings including a focus on the use of renewable energy and recycled materials; and
  • Introduction of transit-oriented development that provides dense, mixed-income housing along with ground floor retail to create an active and equitable neighborhood center.

Design plan perspective – Jackson Square Redevelopment Initiative.

Design plan perspective – Jackson Square Redevelopment Initiative
Source: Urban Edge

Urban Edge Community Development Corporation (UECDC)

UECDC works in partnership with residents, businesses, and government institutions committed to developing and sustaining stable, healthy, and diverse communities in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and surrounding communities in Massachusetts. The UECDC accomplishes this through the development of high quality, affordable rental and owner housing, assistance to small businesses, homeownership education and lending, and the development of educational facilities for youth and families. Click here for more information.

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC)

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) was founded in 1977 to work closely with neighborhood residents, organizations, and businesses to carry out community development projects that benefit low-income residents of Jamaica Plain. The JPNDC's mission is to revitalize Jamaica Plain as a healthy, diverse, and sustainable neighborhood through a comprehensive strategy of community empowerment, economic development, and affordable housing development. Click here for more information.