Joseph E Corcoran, Dorchester philanthropist and developer, has died

Ed Forry

Just in- June 4,2020, 1:00 pm
Joseph E. Corcoran, a Dorchester native, devoted philantrhopist and developer who transformed the Columbia Point peninsula, has died at age 84. According to his family, Mr. Corcoran died at his home surrounded by children and grandchildren. A stalwart of Boston's Irish community, passed away Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Funeral arrangements were incomplete

Joe Corcoran grew up during the Depression in Dorchester, the youngest of eight children of Irish immigrants. He knew his family was poorer than the Brahmins who lived up on the hill, but loyalty to the community prevailed over any divisions. "Everyone looked out for each other, and that was my concept of what a neighborhood should be."

Joe did not forget his neighborhood. After the Korean War, he went to Boston College on the GI Bill®, "where I learned what St. Ignatius did to make the world a better place." In 1973, he founded the real estate development company Corcoran Jennison, which would build $2.5 billion in properties nationally. He made it his mission to bring people from different incomes together and provide social services for those of humble means. He ignored naysayers who doubted that market rate renters would live with poorer people. "I knew it would work because I lived it growing up."

Corcoran Jennison earned a national reputation by transforming a Boston neighborhood now known as Harbor Point from a crime-ridden housing project into a safe, vibrant mixed-income community that the residents are proud to call home. Joe blazed the trail for mixed-income developments by helping to enact state legislation, chairing the real estate registration board, and founding a nonprofit to revitalize distressed urban neighborhoods. "People don't grow up in poverty," he says, "they grow up in neighborhoods."