Boston College on Thursday will launch the Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action, an academic center to teach students how to develop mixed-use housing communities and improve city neighborhoods.
The center will be part of the Carroll School of Management and focus on developing undergraduate courses on real estate development and finance. It is named after its chief benefactor, Joseph E. Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Jennison Companies, a Boston-based developer of mixed-income housing communities.
"The center will bring the best minds together with industry experts to determine how to make our communities better," said Corcoran, 78, a 1959 graduate of Boston College. "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."
Corcoran developed the Harbor Point housing complex, a mixed-income community that revitalized Dorchester's once crime-ridden Columbia Point neighborhood. The complex established a new model for housing development in urban communities. Instead of marginalizing low-income residents into housing projects, it integrated people of various income levels in a way that was both transformative and profitable.
Andrew Boynton, dean of the Carroll School of Management, said the new center will teach students that real estate can be a catalyst for positive change. "Students will learn about development not just intellectually, but socially in terms of giving back and understanding how real estate can turnaround neighborhoods," Boynton said.
The center grew out of a popular class inspired by Corcoran, Real Estate and Urban Action, which has been taught at the Carroll School for the past five years.
The son of Irish immigrants, Corcoran who was born in Dorchester and attended BC High.
He founded the American City Coalition, a nonprofit organization that plans and implements the revitalization of urban neighborhoods. He also is a trustee at Boston College.