By SCOTT JACKSON
Mayor Thomas Koch on Thursday said he would use $15 million in federal pandemic relief funds to acquire the Munroe Building and a second parcel of land in Quincy Center.
On Thursday, Koch joined U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch at a press conference inside the Quincy College welcome center at Presidents Place, where the congressman announced the city-owned school would be receiving $10.7 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package Congress approved in March. The award to Quincy College is in addition to the $46.3 million the city will be receiving directly from the ARP.
Lynch said half of the $10.7 million would be set aside for the benefit of the college’s students and the other half would be spent on the college itself.
Koch said he planned to ask the college’s board of governors to approve using a portion of that $5.3 million to purchase the Munroe Building at 1227 Hancock St. and the nearby parking lot at 1177 Hancock St. The remaining funds for the acquisitions would come from the $46.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds the city will receive, an allocation that does not require approval from city councillors.
The mayor said the city should acquire the land while it is available.
“We have a lot of work to do, a lot of planning to do, but if we lose that site, we are going to be in trouble,” he said. “I think that site is too important for economic development right around the Quincy Center station, educational purposes, tourism purposes.”
After acquiring the properties, Koch said he would solicit community feedback on their future use. He is hopeful the land could be used to provide a new home for Quincy College
“Hopefully within a year or so we can come back after a lot of community discussion, a lot of community feedback, with a solid plan going forward,” Koch said.
“The plan is to use a portion of the money for the college, a portion of the money that was dedicated to the city side to secure that site, and then we will continue the discussions, the planning, and hopefully secure a final home, a permanent home, for Quincy College.”
Koch had previously sought to borrow $23 million to purchase the Munroe Building and the nearby parking lot as part of a proposal to construct a 16-story building to house both Quincy College and municipal offices. The bond would have also covered the cost of relocating the building’s tenants and designing the proposed new municipal facility That proposal, however, was withdrawn last week amid opposition from city councillors.
At Thursday’s press conference, Koch reiterated his support for building a new home for the college.
“I know I have said it publicly before, but to secure the college’s future, it needs to have its own home,” he said. “We can’t continue to be nomads leasing in different parts of the city. A hundred thousand square feet right at the Quincy Center station makes absolutely perfect sense.”
Lynch called the prospect of buying a new home for the college “tremendously exciting.”
“While that is not in my purview, I just know the facts here. Forty-seven percent of the students at Quincy College are people of color,” he said.
“Part of this funding is really to address inequity, right, and the impact it has had on parts of this community. When you think about the population here that is being served at Quincy College, there would be a certain appropriateness to ideas like that.”