Boston College launched a new center at the Carroll School of Management (CSOM) last Thursday that will train undergraduate students on how to develop mixed-use housing communities.
The Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action, named after Joseph Corcoran, BC ’59, benefactor and founder of a Boston-based company that develops mixed-income housing, will focus on developing courses on real estate development and finance, according to the Boston Globe.
According to its website, the center grew out of a CSOM class Corcoran created, “Real Estate: Creating Viable Urban Neighborhoods,” and will focus on four areas devoted to academic development.
It will aim to engage students in traditional academic material on the subject of mixed-income neighborhoods, but it will also host forums to bring together practitioners, policy makers, and scholars to examine the successes and pitfalls of real examples. The center will also focus on curriculum development and support, and community outreach.
Corcoran, chairman of the Dorchester-based Corcoran Jennison Companies, pioneered the development and management of mixed-income housing with the creation of Harbor Point, a mixed-income community created from the failed public housing project Columbia Point.
According to Architect Magazine, Corcoran approached the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with the idea of turning Columbia Point into mixed-income housing.
HUD defines mixed-income housing as a community that includes housing of differing levels of affordability, usually with some housing that is available for low-income tenants at government subsidized rates and other housing available at market rate.
Often, a mixed-income community differs depending on local market contexts. These types of communities were first created in the 1960s, and since then federal, state, and local governments have invested in projects.
Corcoran’s Harbor Point community, begun in 1982, replaced the failing Columbia Point housing project, which had become so dangerous that three-quarters of the community’s housing units were vacant.
The City of Boston leased the land to Corcoran Jennison to redevelop it into a privately managed community.
Corcoran grew up in Dorchester and attended Boston College High School, which, along with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and part of UMass-Boston’s campus, was located on Columbia Point.
Harbor Point is considered by many a successful experiment in mixed-income housing communities. The new center at CSOM will aim to engage students around the development of such communities—the center’s website says Corcoran’s successes “can be replicated to change lives and landscapes.”
“The center will bring the best minds together with industry experts to determine how to make our communities better,” Corcoran told the Boston Globe recently.
“What we’re going to do is give the rest of the world a model for how to transform the poorest areas into communities where people can lead viable lives.”
Andrew Boynton, dean of CSOM, told the Globe that the new center will teach students about development from both intellectual and social perspectives.
The center will draw on the expertise of academic scholars and the experience of practitioners who have business and community-based experience.
Including Corcoran, the center will have a six-member board of advisors—Bryce Blair, former chairman and CEO of AvalonBay Communities; Jack Connors, BC ’63 and founding partner of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Inc.; Greg Giornelli, president and COO of Purpose Build Communities; Paul Grogan, president of The Boston Foundation; and Rick Peiser, the Michael D. Spear Professor of Real Estate Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
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