Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch tossed out two ambitious plans in his January inaugural address: building a permanent home for Quincy College, and tearing down the 1970s portion of Quincy City Hall to make way for a performing arts center partially built over the MBTA tracks.
The details were sketchy; Koch’s aide Christopher Walker said, “right now, it’s a vision” and specifics “will come with the work ahead.”
Koch, who is starting his sixth four-year term as mayor, said that it was important for Quincy College to have a “place to call its own” after decades of bouncing between various locations. The municipally owned, two-year college currently is housed in commercial office space in Quincy Center.
Koch proposed building a 14- to 15-story building for the college on the northern edge of the new Hancock-Adams Common next to City Hall — at the site of the block-long Munroe Building and directly across from the Quincy Center MBTA station.
About half the space in the new building would be used for municipal offices, and the remainder designed for and rented to Quincy College, Koch said. He said the rent would remain stable for a minimum of 25 years, “allowing the college greater ability to model its own finances and budgeting.”
“I believe in Quincy College, and I look forward to beginning discussions with the City Council and College Board” about the proposal, Koch said.
Koch said moving municipal offices to the new building would allow the city to tear down the 1970s glass City Hall, which he said needs extensive and expensive repairs and upgrades. The historic 1844 City Hall would remain.
In the place of the 1970s structure, Koch envisions a “first-class performing arts center and theater” that would extend over the nearby MBTA tracks.
Koch said he has discussed the project with an unnamed “private party” who is interested in investing in the design and construction. Koch also noted that he has appointed a committee of local arts advocates and theater experts to make recommendations on what should be built that could sustain itself financially.
“This is a big idea,” Koch said. “I understand that, and it’s a long way from fruition. But we’ve matured so much as a city over these past years that I believe we are ready. Our downtown is once again bustling, businesses are beginning to thrive, people are choosing to live in the heart of our downtown.
“We’re already the historic capital of our region,” he said. “I see no reason why Quincy should not also be the cultural capital south of Boston.”
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org