News & Updates

Mayor Walsh: Dudley Square development guidelines focused on community needs

Jul 19, 2019

The following opinion piece ran in the Bay State Banner on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

Boston is experiencing an unprecedented period of growth with more than 700,000 residents expected to live here by the year 2030. While this growth holds great promise to improve the quality of life for all Bostonians by enhancing our economy and investing in our neighborhoods, the building boom underway today hasn’t touched each of our neighborhoods equally.

In Roxbury’s Dudley Square, many publicly and privately owned parcels still sit vacant, offering little benefit to Roxbury’s residents. That’s why three years ago we launched PLAN: Dudley Square to determine if the publicly-owned vacant land in Dudley Square could be put to better use, and how redevelopment could improve the quality of life for Dudley Square and Roxbury residents.

Since the launch of PLAN: Dudley Square, we have met with a diverse array of stakeholders, including residents, business owners and neighborhood organizations, to help us envision the future of Dudley Square. We have hosted well-attended community workshops and walking tours of the neighborhood. We heard first-hand about the need for, among other things, affordable housing, more business and housing ownership opportunities, job training and creation for residents, and an enhanced civic and cultural environment to once again make Dudley Square a destination. 

We have listened and worked together to solicit feedback to guide Requests for Proposals that are reflective of the community’s wishes for the publicly-owned vacant parcels in Dudley Square. This month we are pleased to release our final report for PLAN: Dudley Square. The guidelines outlined in the planning document will serve as a framework for future development projects, public realm improvements and capital investments in the area. PLAN: Dudley Square prioritizes the use of public land for public good and development without displacement, and commits to advancing social and racial equity using the following principles:

  • Vacant publicly-owned parcels should be used to create new housing at a range of income levels, while at the same time we must preserve existing income-restricted housing in the neighborhood. This will include deeply affordable housing for low-income households, as well as middle-income units.
  • Vacant publicly-owned parcels should create job and business ownership opportunities for community members. The redevelopment of these properties will include requirements for developers to strive to reach “good job standards” developed by the community which will include fair pay, stable shifts and benefits.
  • New development must create an active public realm to benefit new and existing residents, as well as Dudley Square’s workers and visitors. Developing these public parcels will contribute to Dudley’s existing assets for both residents and visitors.
  • New development will be expected to meet high performance and green building standards.
We echo the community’s feedback, and want these opportunities for development to benefit people of color, women, and the businesses they own. To address this, the RFPs ask respondents to set forth a Diversity and Inclusion Plan, as well as plans to mitigate displacement from development. This criteria is now included in all RFPs for public land across the city.

Already, RFPs that incorporate this language have been issued for four Department of Neighborhood Development-owned parcels. This fall, the Boston Planning & Development Agency plans to release three additional RFPs for the Blair Lot, the Nawn Factory, and Parcel 8.

We are grateful to the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee who served as the Advisory Group throughout the PLAN: Dudley Square process. PLAN: Dudley Square builds on the work set out by the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan in 1999 and continued by the Dudley Square Vision Project in 2007. To everyone who played a role in shaping this effort, we thank you for your thoughtful involvement and look forward to working together to implement our shared vision.

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