Peter Roth's Project Wins State Historic Preservation Award
The restored Upham's Corner Marketplace in Dorchester, MA was designated one of nine state-wide recipients of the 2002 Preservation Awards by the Massachusetts Historical Commission at an awards dinner May 16. The 70,000 sf adaptive reuse project features ground-floor retail and office with 45 residential units upstairs. Fourteen of the units are supportive housing for the elderly. Project developer Peter Roth co-teaches Design for Development, a core course in the real estate program. Wearing his other hat, the one that says 'Developer', Roth is principal of New Atlantic Development which does community-oriented development, mostly in Boston’s inner city, with a focus on affordable housing, and mixed-use development.
Operating with just himself and a corps of consultants and project managers, Roth finds the land or building, conceives the project, hires the architect, assembles the financing and then finds the general contractor. Projects are publicly financed with packages involving from two to six different funding sources. Working capital and upfront costs are privately financed. Roth started in this business in 1994 when Boston banks were unloading foreclosed properties. Since then he has developed more than 250 units of housing, from single-family "group homes" to a 75-unit condominium. Typically, Roth takes what was an abandoned or foreclosed property to create housing for low- and moderate-income families, often including a special needs population (AIDS, developmentally disabled, frail elderly, etc.).
Upham's Corner Marketplace which was opened April 2 by Mayor Menino with a host of Boston dignitaries standing by, is Roth's most recent completed project. The building was the location of the country's first supermarket and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989 although it was vacant when it received that designation and in fact sat empty for 15 years, right in the heart of Dorchester’s Upham’s Corner neighborhood business district. Now it contains 15,000 SF of retail space and 45 units of affordable housing, including 14 units for formerly homeless elders. Roth worked closely with the local Main Streets Program and the local community development corporation, whose executive director describes the project as “an important watershed for Upham’s Corner” in revitalizing the neighborhood and attracting further development to the area. Project financing totaled $12.1 million and included $2.5 million from the city's Department of Neighborhood Development.
Complex adaptive reuse and urban redevelopment is Roth’s specialty. "It's a thrill to open one of these projects - to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear," he says.