The Boston Planning & Development Agency approved the guidelines for the upcoming requests for proposals for city-owned parcels in Dudley Square during its meeting Thursday. The city’s Department of Neighborhood Development plans to issue RFPs in the coming months to sell four parcels around the old square — places where new housing developments will soon rise.
The four addresses are 75-81 Dudley St., 2147 Washington St., 135 Dudley St. and 40-50 Washington St. Next year, four more will be in the works under the same guidelines: the Crescent Parcel, Blair Lot, Parcel 8 and Roxbury Street A & B. The newly approved guidelines come from a two-year initiative called Plan: Dudley Square, which is an offshoot of the broader Roxbury Strategic Master Plan, which was approved in 2004 and has governed redevelopment of the area since.
But residents in the years since have nonetheless felt pushed out as Boston rents soar. At a fiery community meeting in November, a large crowd of Roxbury residents said that they’re being priced out as predominantly white yuppies are moving into the swanky new apartment buildings being built in the historically black neighborhood. Then earlier this year, business owners in the commercial district said recent closures have left a commercial vacuum of empty storefronts that threatens to expand and drag on economic development in the area.
Dudley Square historically was one of the most active business districts outside downtown, but it’s having a hard time generating as much business as it once did. The city had hoped that opening the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, with school district offices and community services, would help move the area forward. But business owners said it hadn’t done much in the several years since besides raise rents.
The BPDA’s Lillian Mensah told the board Thursday that one change in this latest iteration of planning documents for the Roxbury square is that the city is looking for 66 percent of housing units from publicly owned properties like these to be income-restricted affordable-housing apartments.
“One of the ways we’re looking to address displacement is through affordability,” said Muge Undemir, a senior planner at the BPDA. She said they’re trying to do that through having all of those units restricted to a range of different incomes.