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Developers advance new vision for Dudley Square

Plans for four lots include hundreds of new housing units

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1990 and has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Developers advance new vision for Dudley Square
Plans for Dudley Square parcels include condos, apartments, parking, commercial and office space. Image: courtesy Arrowstreet Architecture & Design

A slew of developers has submitted plans for as many as 360 new housing units, new office space, retail storefronts and off-street parking garages in response to requests for proposals the city released recently for four parcels of vacant land in Dudley Square.

In all, developers submitted 13 proposals for the four parcels, all of which are currently being used as surface parking lots. Most, but not all of the proposals would replace the existing parking with below-grade or above-ground garages.

The lots put out to bid are 135 Warren St., the site of the former Area B2 police substation, which school department employees are currently using for parking; 40-50 Warren St., a surface lot at the corner of Warren and Ziegler streets; 2147 Washington St., currently a surface parking lot next to the Haley House Bakery and Café; and 75-81 Dudley St., a lot at the corner of Dudley Street and Shawmut Ave.

The proposals promise to radically alter the streetscape in the long-neglected commercial district and could bring in hundreds of new residents to the area.

The developers’ plans call for varying mixes of affordability in response to the Department of Neighborhood Development’s call for a one-third affordable, one-third moderate-income and one-third market-rate mix in the RFPs, developed by the DND with guidance from neighborhood residents.

Former Roxbury Strategic Masterplan Oversight Committee member Bruce Bickerstaff said the addition of housing units would go a long way toward revitalizing the shopping district.

“We’ve been working toward this for the last decade,” he said. “Residents are the lifeblood of the economy. If you want nightlife, restaurants, entertainment or any after-work activity, you can’t have that without residents.”

The call for mixed-income housing mirrors the late 1980s South End Neighborhood Housing Initiative, during which the administration of Mayor Raymond Flynn agreed to the same one-third, one-third, one-third mix of low-, moderate-income and market-rate housing. Mayor Martin Walsh’s administration earlier this year adopted the guideline for all city-owned parcels.

Proposals will be scored on factors including equity ownership by people of color and participation of minority business enterprises in all phases of development. The 13 bids submitted include proposals from firms owned by people of color, white-owned firms partnering with minority-owned firms, and nonprofit developers.

DND Director Sheila Dillon, the city’s chief of housing, said the proposals received will be vetted by a project review committee beginning in January before the city selects developers for the parcels.

“We’re very pleased with the high-quality, thoughtful proposals that were submitted, and are hopeful that they will lead to an engaged and active review process with the PRC and the community,” she said.

She said the project review process would take several months.

“When the Project Review Committee convenes for the first time in January, one goal will be to establish a timeline for a meaningful review of the submissions,” Dillon said. “DND will work closely with them to establish a schedule, leaving plenty of time for community engagement as these proposals are reviewed in depth and discussed. We anticipate that this review will be several months.”

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