Jeanne Pinado leaving Madison Park CDC after 20 years at helm
When Jeanne Pinado took the reins at Madison Park Development Corporation in 1998, Dudley Square was on the verge of a major makeover, but it had a ways to go. Although street-level retail shops were thriving, the upper floors of the area’s large office buildings had been vacant for years.
Some, like the hulking Hibernian Hall, appeared on the verge of collapse.
Over the course of two decades, Pinado, who will step down at the end of this year, steered the Roxbury-based community development corporation through Dudley Square’s redevelopment. Along the way, the CDC cut the ribbon on 600 new units of affordable rental housing and 95 units of owner-occupied affordable housing, oversaw the refinancing and redevelopment of the 546 units in Madison Park Village and the adjacent Haynes House and Smith House developments.
Along with the redevelopment of Hibernian Hall on Dudley Street into an arts center and initiatives such as the RoxVote voter mobilization effort, the CDC has in the last 20 years expanded from its mission of building and maintaining affordable housing to a broader vision of community-building.
“What’s remarkable about Madison Park’s evolution is that it’s become a comprehensive community-serving organization,” said Joe Kriesberg, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of CDCs.
Pinado described to the Banner the breadth of projects MPDC has taken on in her time there.
“I like most the diversity of things we’ve worked on and the deep and broad impact we’ve had,” she said. “I love creating new places and spaces and buildings and places for people to live in and shop in.”
At Hibernian Hall, which was vacant and deteriorating for 15 years before MPDC reopened it in 2006, plays, concerts, and political debates and rallies now bring audiences to the third-floor performance space.
Originally, Pinado said, her organization was thinking of developing housing in Hibernian Hall.
“We went out to the community and said, ‘We’ve got this building now,’” she said. “Everyone said, ‘Why not keep the ballroom? We need a space where we can do events.’”
In another project, the long-vacant upper floors of the former Woolworth building at the corner of Ruggles and Washington Streets underwent renovations and now boast office space. At 9 Williams St., which fronts Washington Street, there are 30 mixed-income units with retail space on the first floor.
At 122 DeWitt Drive in the midst of Madison Park Village, a brand-new 21,000-square-foot facility hosts a technology center, classrooms, a multipurpose recreation room, an out-of-school program, wellness programs, management offices and outdoor programming space.
“There’s so many different things we do,” Pinado said. “I really love the diversity and the broad impact we’ve had.”
Before becoming MPDC’s third executive director, Pinado worked as a senior equity investment officer at the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation. She joined MPDC soon after it began the renovation and construction of 331 units in the Orchard Gardens (formerly Orchard Park) public housing development as part of a $31 million HUD Hope VI renovation project.
Pinado also oversaw the completion of the controversial Davenport Commons project, which began as a student dormitory for Northeastern University. After significant community protest, that project grew to include 60 owner-occupied affordable townhouses.
The CDC also built 18 owner-occupied homes on Fulda and Hawthorne streets in Roxbury’s Highland Park neighborhood, acquired 43 units at Shawmut Avenue and Ruggles Streets, 128 units on Kenilworth Street and other scattered sites in Roxbury and Dorchester, built 20 units of affordable housing at Eustice and Adams streets and built Dudley Greenville Apartments, which comprises 43 affordable units in a five-story building on Dudley Street across from Hibernian Hall.
While the CDC’s acquisitions and new construction are impressive, Pinado takes pride in the refinancing of the Madison Park Village units — the heart of the CDC that was built on land it acquired after city bulldozers leveled the Madison Park neighborhood during the Urban Renewal program in the 1960s.
Completed in 1978 and 1980, the units were in need of updates. But with federal HUD funding in decline, renovation was no easy feat.
“I’m a bit of a deal junkie and a finance nerd,” Pinado said. “Structuring that deal was a bit of an achievement.”
Pinado has held her own at a time when the city’s largest affordable housing manager, the Boston Housing Authority, is struggling to maintain its stock. Under her MPDC tenure, the Dudley Square area has undergone a revitalization that has brought hundreds of jobs and new vitality to the area.
Pinado says she’s proud of her record at MPDC.
“It’s a wonderful sense of satisfaction,” she said. “When I left my downtown real estate job, my colleagues said, ‘What are you doing?’ They had no idea of the impact you can have at a community development corporation.”