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USES identifies buyer for Tubman House

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
USES identifies buyer for Tubman House
United South End Settlements is in negotiations with New Boston Ventures for the purchase of the Harriet Tubman House building at 566 Columbus Ave. Proceeds from the sale will help keep the Tubman House functioning at its Rutland Street property. BANNER PHOTO

United South End Settlements has identified New Boston Ventures as its preferred buyer for the Harriet Tubman House building at 566 Columbus Avenue.

If the deal goes through, the developer will tear down the three-story 1978 structure and build a six-story mixed-use development with a café and USES office on the street level, parking below grade and 65 residential units on the upper floors, according to USES Executive Director Maicharia Weir Lytle.

USES picked the New Boston Ventures proposal from a dozen submitted for the redevelopment of the property. Weir Lytle said the proceeds of the sale will enable USES to continue the programs it ran out of the 566 Columbus Ave. property in the organization’s other building nearby.

“This gives us the resources to rebuild the Harriet Tubman House on the Rutland Street property  and to establish an endowment for the organization to ensure stability for years to come,” she said. “That was a big piece for us. We want to make sure the organization is still here.”

Weir Little would not disclose the sale amount for the building, noting that the sale is not complete.

“We’re in the due-diligence phase,” she said.

The USES board moved to sell 566 Columbus Ave. last year. In recent years, the organization ran a deficit due to the cost of maintaining that building and its property at 48 Rutland Street. The yearly cost of running both facilities ran as high as $600,000.

New Boston Ventures, a South End-based firm, has completed 50 projects in and around Boston, including The Lucas, a reconstruction of the 1874 Holy Trinity German Church at 140 Shawmut Ave into a nine-story, 33-unit luxury condominium complex. For 566 Columbus Ave., the firm has enlisted developer Richard Taylor, development consultant Beverley Johnson and local activist Jovita Fontanez to be part of the project team.

Weir Lytle said the New Boston Ventures plan for the site includes space deeded to USES that the nonprofit will make available as a community meeting space and gallery.

USES was founded in 1892 to help blacks from the South and immigrants settle in Boston. It has maintained a mission of helping families to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty for more than a century. The nonprofit currently focuses on helping families achieve economic mobility. It offers educational enrichment programs for children and job skills training for adults.

The sale of the 566 Columbus Ave. building came after a two-year planning process that included community meetings and meetings with stakeholders. USES issued a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the building in November 2018.

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