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Roxbury’s first residential tower planned for Dudley Square

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the Banner’s senior editor. VIEW BIO
Roxbury’s first residential tower planned for Dudley Square
Ken and Lisa Guscott make their presentation to black elected officials (left-right, rear) City Councilor Tito Jackson, state representatives Russell Holmes and Gloria Fox and Suffolk County Registrar of Probate Felix D. Arroyo.

The black-led development team seeking to build an office and residential complex in Dudley Square has pulled the wraps off their design, and it’s big.

Rising from the limestone façade of the Institution for Savings in Roxbury and its Vicinity, the steel and glass tower in the rendering from Stull and Lee architects would stand 25 stories above Washington Street and include 392,355 square feet of commercial, office and residential space. If completed according to plan, the building will be the tallest ever built in Roxbury.

Developer Ken Guscott, founder of Long Bay Management and owner of the buildings and land on which the project would be constructed, said the development is aimed at making a bold statement.

“Dudley used to be the second largest shopping center in Boston,” he said. “We want to participate in bringing it back to that status.”

Last week, Guscott and others from his development team met with black and Latino elected officials to gauge reactions to the project.

The officials present expressed support for the project, although state Rep. Gloria Fox said she had reservations about the height and density of the proposed tower.

Greg Janey, whose firm Janey Co. is slated to manage the project’s construction, noted that a pair of Northeastern University dormitories three blocks away at Ruggles Station are 22 stories tall.

Density in Dudley

Author: Photo courtesy of Stull & LeeA black-led development team is pursuing development of a 25-story residential and office tower on Washington Street opposite the Dudley Station bus terminal.

At A Glance

Floor 1: Retail space, including the current bank building with the Washington Street façade preserved.

Floors 2-9: Commercial office space

Floors 10-19: One- and two-bedroom rental units, going for about $2,000 for a two-bedroom under current market conditions.

Floors 20-25: Condominium units

City Councilor Tito Jackson said the design is in keeping with the city’s emphasis on transit-oriented development and increased housing production that would alleviate pressure on the city’s overheated housing market.

“If we’re concerned about affordable housing in Boston, we’re going to have to deal with the fact that we have something most other neighborhoods don’t have — land,” he said. “This project gives us an opportunity to jumpstart development in Dudley. I’m supportive of density in housing. When you look at transit-oriented development, buildings tend to be higher.”

Under the proposal, retail space would be located on the first two floors, which will include the current bank building on Washington Street, the façade of which will be preserved. Floors 2 through 9 will house commercial office space. Floors 10-19 will feature one- and two-bedroom rental units, which the developers say would go for about $2,000 for a two-bedroom under current market conditions. Floors 20-25 would contain condominium units.

Guscott said the team would develop affordable housing units offsite, in keeping with the city’s inclusionary zoning laws, which mandate that large building projects either set aside 15 percent of units onsite for affordable housing or pay for the development of an equivalent number of units offsite.

Guscott said the development’s emphasis would be on housing for middle income Roxbury residents.

“We want to meet the need for workforce housing,” he told the officials. “There’s housing for low-income people and for upper-income people. There’s a big group in between that needs housing as well. If you make over $36,000, you don’t qualify for affordable housing. You need to make at least $150,000 to buy a house today. You’ve got this big gap. We’re trying to bridge that gap.”

The elected officials in the meeting were generally supportive of the project.

“Your thinking is good,” said Suffolk County Registrar of the Pobate Felix D. Arroyo. “We need to keep people in the community.”

Jackson said that with the high number of affordable housing units surrounding Dudley Square, the introduction of moderately-priced market-rate units in the area would attract a different mix.

“I would say we should be doing three or four buildings like this,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity to jump-start much of the other development we want to see happen in Dudley.”

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.

The project will have to go through the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Article 80 review process, a standard community and city review of developments of more than 50,000 square feet. Under that process, the BRA will solicit comment from abutters and community residents about its potential impacts on the community.

Engineer Latoya Baskin said the team had a preliminary meeting with BRA officials and expects to begin construction on the project as soon as spring of 2016. The project will take at least 30 months to complete, from working through the Article 80 process through completion, Baskin said.

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