Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Roxbury's Master Plan



At a recent meeting of the Roxbury Master Plan Oversight Committee, representatives of the four major construction developments around Roxbury, scheduled to take place shortly after the completion of the new Ferdinand building, gave status updates to the committee members and assembled public.

First, the representative for Barlett Place, LLC, who are planning mixed housing and retail at the old MBTA bus service yard, could report little more than discussions with BRA are ongoing, and a re-zoning of the district into mixed-income housing (rather than just affordable housing) would progress hopefully on January 17th.

Bartlett Place


The general reaction was positive from the committee and seemed to reflect their understanding that this is what the Roxbury community wanted, and was the best path forward to bring businesses to that area. 

Next up, P-3 Partners, LLC gave a positive impression of the largest project by far, the $300 million dollar large format retail/office/museum/residential space currently named Tremont Crossing, to be located across the Boston Police Station off Tremont. 

Tremont Crossing


Jeffrey Feldman, one of the P-3 reps, reported that advanced discussions with Northeastern University to take most or even all of the office space served as a red letter day for the project, since finding tenants for the office space was considered to be the most challenging (though he said this in hushed tones, as if telling a secret, which it probably is). This failed to enthuse the committee, especially Boston City Councillor Tito Jackson, who expressed something akin to annoyance, first with the lack of certainty about Northeastern, and second with the veil of secrecy seemingly shown by P-3 Partners in regard to possible tenants to fill the large format retail.

Other committee members piled on, expressing frustration with requests by P-3 to receive extensions on project designations from the BRA, since they felt the project should have gelled by this point. 

Mr. Feldman was quick to answer that until such deals were multi-million dollar deals were finalized, nothing could be said publicly, in what was still the very early stages of development. The schedule for overall design and eventual construction, he stressed, hadn't changed from the outset. No construction, or "shovels in the ground" can be hoped for until Winter 2014.

Thankfully, the update ended with the general sentiment that the committee supported the development. 

Following that, Urbanica, Inc., developer of the Melnea Hotel & Residences, which will be located across from Ramsey Park off Washington St., announced significant discussions with a higher end hotel chain, Aloft Hotel. 

Aloft Hotel


In this blogger's opinion, this is absolutely fantastic news. Aloft hotels are upbeat, very jazzy places, and definitely a cut above cookie-cutter "here's your room, now go to sleep" type hotels. Additionally, Urbanica announced discussions with Legal Seafood to possibly open a smaller, 3,000 SF restaurant, presumably on the first floor.

Last in order, but not in my heart, the Madison/Tropical, LLC representative gave a very candid and positive update on the major expansion of Roxbury's own El Tropical grocery store. This project, as much as the Ferdinand building will transform Dudley Square, as the corner of Melnea Cass and Washington St. is effectively Dudley Square's front door. Their bold design and layout expresses a notion that Roxbury won't be content with resting in the shadow of Greater Boston any longer. 

New Tropical Foods


Dudley Square is shaping up to be a mighty, mighty Boston destination.


1 comment:

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