AIDS Action moving to JP

August 14, 2009
By

John Ruch

JACKSON SQ.—AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, the major non-profit organization that operates the local Boomerangs thrift shop, is moving its headquarters to Jamaica Plain, the Gazette has learned.

The $9.4 million organization likely will move from its downtown offices this winter into custom-built space at 75 Amory St. in Jackson Square on the JP/Roxbury border.

“We’re very excited to move to Jamaica Plain,” said AIDS Action Executive Director Rebecca Haag, who is also a JP resident looking forward to walking to work. “We think Jackson Square is a new, emerging, vital community.”

The move will make AIDS Action one of JP’s biggest and most economically powerful organizations, with more than 70 staff members serving 2,500 clients a year. AIDS Action conducts HIV/AIDS prevention programs and pro-vides support services—including housing, job training and domestic violence counseling—to people living with the disease.

AIDS Action already has a strong presence in JP with its popular Boomerangs shop on Centre Street, which pumps $1.1 million a year into the organization. Despite tough economic times, AIDS Action just opened a second Boomerangs in West Roxbury—a tribute to the organization’s “innovative, entrepreneurial” approach, Haag said.

Haag praised Mordechai Levin, owner of the Amory Street building, for his custom redevelopment and his com-mitment to non-profit use, adding that he is seeking other non-profits to move in. Levin did not return a Ga-zette phone call for this article.

“We hope to create a real sense of a non-profit community,” Haag said. She noted that the nearby neighborhood has other major, allied non-profits, including Family Service of Greater Boston, Community Servings and two com-munity health centers.

Haag said JP is a good neighborhood for AIDS Action’s headquarters because many of its clients and constitu-ents live here, as do many staff members.

The custom-built space will allow the organization to be “more client-centric,” she said. That includes a proper waiting area, private consultation rooms and training rooms where other non-profits or government agen-cies can speak to clients.

Meanwhile, AIDS Action spokesperson Paul Twitchell noted, the front of the building is undergoing a makeover to a modern, glass-filled look that will “make a statement” about new life coming to Amory Street.

AIDS Action will be closing its downtown headquarters, but will retain a South End drop-in center for men. It may have a few other satellite offices following two mergers with smaller organizations that are in the works, Haag said.

The 75 Amory building is one of a few industrial buildings remaining on the southern edge of vacant land slated for massive redevelopment by the team known as Jackson Square Partners. Several years ago, Levin was among the failed bidders for the rights to that redevelopment.