Only two years ago, the MWPHGL of Massachusetts' grand lodge building in the Dorchester area of Boston was reported to be just a week away from foreclosure, and the auction was averted at the last minute when an agreement was struck with the lender and donations rolled in from the Masonic community.
Now, there are plans afoot to develop the valuable property into a hotel and conference center. From yesterday's Bay State Banner:
Prince Hall Freemasons from around the world came to Boston last weekend to celebrate the founding of their organization, the oldest black Masonry group. While the Masons commemorated the branch’s colonial roots — beginning with an Irish soldier’s initiation of the first black Freemasons in 1775 and made official with the issuing of a charter in 1784 — members of the local Prince Hall Grand Lodge also have been looking to their lodge’s future.
Local members are considering redeveloping Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Roxbury into a combination hotel and conference center, with full-service, sit-down restaurants, lodge member Louis Elisa informed the Banner. Prince Hall Grand Lodge has served the community for years as a site for concerts, meetings and rallies. But some say the current building does not tap the property’s full potential.
The lodge is a sizable presence on Washington Street, occupying one of only three one-acre parcels in Grove Hall, noted Grove Hall Main Streets executive director Ed Gaskin. As such, the use Masons select for the property will have a major impact on the economic development of the area, Gaskin told the Banner.
“There are not many parcels [here] that are that large. How they’re used is a determinant of the economic development of the area,” Gaskin said. “Right now we have a large parcel that is basically underdeveloped and underutilized.”
The parcel’s proximity to local attractions enhances the potential of any development on the site, City Councilor Tito Jackson said.
“There’s a great deal of potential for the space,” Jackson said. “[It is at] a very attractive location, particularly because it is blocks away from an 18-hole golf course. It is in Grove Hall, which is centrally located and very close to the airport,” he said.
Prince Hall Grand Lodge has established a nine-member project planning committee, and groups like Grove Hall Main Streets have participated in discussions.
Elisa is one of those planning committee members. The hotel-conference proposal is in the early concept stage, he said, and the committee is fleshing out its idea for the site before presenting it for community response.
The current proposal is for 300 parking spaces and a six-to-eight-story building that comprises a 250-unit three- or four-star hotel, conference center and at least two first-class, full-service restaurants, Elisa said. Other ideas include placing a Grove Hall history and Prince Hall Masonry history museum in the building and providing office space separate from the hotel-conference complex. He anticipated a cost of $40 million or more, with project completion in five years.It is unclear from the article whether the Grand Lodge plans to keep its offices and lodge room in the new complex, or move to another location. For the complete article, CLICK HERE.