Black-led team aims to build in Dudley Sq.
New building to include offices, retail space and residential units
The opening of the new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building has significantly changed the face of Dudley Square. There’s a new Tropical Foods supermarket and other commercial projects are in the development pipeline, but none are as ambitious as the retail, office and residential development project being planned by a team of African American developers led by Ken Guscott.
The Long Bay Management founder is putting up funds and a large parcel of land for the development, which the team plans to build on the site currently occupied by the One United and Citizen’s Bank branches. Guscott, who owns the bank building, an adjacent retail building, and the offices behind, says the project will be the largest of its kind in Roxbury.
In a city where major real estate developments are dominated by white-led firms, Guscott says his effort is unique for its concentration of people of color in leadership roles.
“The team we have here at the table are people who have more than 10 or 15 years of experience,” he said during an interview with the developers last week. “Most of the time, we don’t get a first chance at a major development project. This is group led by black professionals.”
Guscott’s team includes his brother Cecil, a co-founder of Long Bay Management, and his daughter Lisa; Bevco CEO Beverly Johnson, who is managing the Article 80 permitting process, community engagement and public financing; project feasibility advisor Tom Welch, who does cost projections; Greg Janey, CEO of Janey Construction Management, which is working in a joint venture with Gilbane Building Company as the general contractor; architect David Lee of the firm Stull and Lee; and Deborah Bernat, who is handling marketing.
Development team members said they would determine the square footage and height of the building after they have had community meetings and met with elected officials and other stakeholders. Johnson said they have had initial meetings with the city’s Chief of Development John Barros.
“We’re keeping him informed,” she said.
The new building will be constructed on land owned by Long Bay Management bordered Washington Street, Roxbury Street, Shawmut Avenue and Marvin Street. The building will retain the neoclassical limestone façade of the bank building, and some of its interior. A glass atrium will connect the current bank structure to the adjacent retail and office space on Roxbury Street. Long Bay owns land, currently being used for parking lots, behind the Sargent Prince building. Office space, apartments and condos will be sited where the lots currently are, facing Marvin Street and Shawmut Avenue. Parking would be provided under the new building.
Lee said he envisions a restaurant or live music venue for the old bank, which was built as the home of the Institution for Savings in Roxbury and its Vicinity in 1901.
“We want to start with the old bank building and do something that works off of it and use the space to do something interesting,” he said.
Ken Guscott says he already has investors for the project. The team may seek public financing for sidewalk and street improvements and utilities. Long Bay has already contracted with an engineering firm to take core samples of the ground on which they plan to build.
Development team members say the Guscott brothers’ leadership underscores their commitment to helping grow other businesses led by people of color.
“Ken is committed to building wealth and equity in the black community,” Beverly Johnson said. “He and Cecil are at the table because they want to see us succeed. It’s the only way we’ll be able to succeed.”
Janey’s company will handle 40 percent of the construction portion of the project with Gilbane handling the other 60 percent. The collaboration between the two firms allows Gilbane, a Providence-based company established in 1873, to expand its foothold in Boston. Janey Construction Management, on the other hand, is building its capacity to manage larger projects. The two firms also plan to collaborate on other projects, including the construction of a new Wynn Resorts casino in Everett.
With each project, Janey says, his firm will gain more knowledge, a larger share of the work and greater bonding capacity.
“We’re increasing our capacity with each project,” Janey said. “By the end, we’ll be able to do this on our own.”
For Cecil Guscott, 93, and Ken Guscott, 89, this may be the last major project they tackle. Ken says the greatest legacy of the project may be in demonstrating to black firms that it’s possible.
“We’d like to leave an example for other blacks to see what they can do,” he said. “We’d like other blacks to be in this business after we retire.”