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One proposal remains for Blair Lot

Multiple city-owned parcels under review

Morgan C. Mullings
Staff reporter covering state and local politics. Report for America Corps Member. VIEW BIO
One proposal remains for Blair Lot
An aerial rendering of the Nubian Ascends project. COURTESY PHOTO

With one developer out of the running for the redevelopment of the Blair Lot in Nubian Square, the Boston Planning and Development Agency is now considering just one proposal. On Nov. 17, a project review committee (PRC) will vote on the Nubian Square Ascends project, which would turn the current parking lot into “Nubian Market.” Among the other developments proposed for the neighborhood, the Nawn Factory project is also moving to a new stage, while nearby Parcel 8 is on hold for further community input.

A rendering of the Nubian Ascends project from Washington Street, by the Bolling Building. COURTESY PHOTO

A rendering of the Nubian Ascends project from Washington Street, by the Bolling Building. COURTESY PHOTO

Blair Lot

The PRC, an advisory group of community stakeholders, was considering two proposals for this 1.9 acre parking lot, but one group, ID8, has been removed from the process. Morgan McDaniel, real estate and community development officer at the BPDA, said that the ID8 team expressed that the necessary funding was no longer available due to economic troubles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve officially rejected them for their self-described inability to finance their project. So now we’re only considering the one proposal,” McDaniel told the Banner.

The Nubian Square Ascends team, led by Richard Taylor, is planning office space, artists’ residences, a parking garage, an artist market and food court for the site. The PRC will meet on Monday, Nov. 17 to decide if they will recommend Nubian Square Ascends’ design to the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee. After passing their recommendation on to the RSMPOC, there will be another vote at the RSMPOC’s Dec. 7 virtual meeting, where the developers will present their design for the last time before that committee makes a recommendation to the BPDA.

Nawn Factory

The developers behind the two project proposals for Nawn Factory will also present at that Dec. 7 meeting. Historic Boston Incorporated and art @ the Nawn Factory responded to the city’s call for bids last fall for the historic brick building on Washington Street. Since it’s adjacent to Parcel 8, developers were encouraged to coordinate their plans with developers who submitted for that project as well.

Historic Boston’s proposal is an $8.6 million project to rehabilitate the building and make a mixed-used space that showcases Roxbury’s history. It would be used for events, retail and a cafe. The Wellness Collaborative would be the tenant and operator, and that organization will fundraise alongside Historic Boston for the project.

The competing proposal is art @ the Nawn Factory, which aims to build a cultural and rehearsal space for performing artists. The team is led by Jonathan Smalls, a performer and software engineer located in Boston. The proposal also includes a courtyard area with a mural.

Both projects include plans to rebuild the building to its original size, as part of it was destroyed in a fire.

Parcel 8

Next to the Nawn Factory stands Parcel 8, which has received three proposals. Each would transform the lot into a cultural space, with live-work spaces for artists.

“The PRC is working very diligently, [spending] a huge amount of their time to really thoughtfully consider their decision on these,” McDaniel said.

For now, the PRC is considering the community’s concerns about projects from New Urban Collaborative, NuGateway and NUBA, as each would bring in a new cultural tenant, hundreds of units of housing and parking.

New Urban Collaborative’s proposal boasts a partnership with the Museum of African American History; NuGateway would create a local public market modeled after the Boston Public Market; and NUBA would house the NCAAA Elma Lewis Museum.

Other nearby sites

There are a few sites in Nubian Square for which the city has not yet solicited bids. The BPDA has yet to announce when they will continue public meetings on the Malcolm X and Crescent projects.

The Malcolm X property is 17,020 square feet of vacant land located on Malcolm X boulevard near the Roxbury Post Office. The Crescent parcel comprises eight different parcels of land, some owned by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, located at Melnea Cass Boulevard and Tremont Street.

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