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BPDA designates diverse development team to transform Nubian Square's Crescent Parcel into family-centered affordable housing and open space

Nov 18, 2021

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board today voted to tentatively designate Drexel Village, LLC, to develop the BPDA and Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)-owned Crescent Parcel in Roxbury’s Nubian Square. The proposal responds to the community vision laid out through the BPDA’s planning initiative for the neighborhood, PLAN: Nubian Square. The proposal plans to create a mixed-use development that includes affordable housing and community space across the Crescent Parcel and the neighboring parcel owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, as well as parish space for the historic, Roxbury-based St. Katharine Drexel Church. The property is located on a prominent corner at the intersection of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Tremont Street.

Like all BPDA-owned parcels in the City of Boston, the selected developer was required to meet the BPDA’s  Diversity and Inclusion evaluation criterion, and outline commitments to including M/WBEs in all aspects of their development. Diversity and Inclusion criteria was weighted at 25 percent of the total evaluation of the proposal. 
“We are committed to facilitating a future for Crescent Parcel that supports the surrounding community, creating affordable housing and supporting local small businesses,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “We look forward to working with the development team to bring life to the community’s vision.”
The BPDA launched PLAN: Nubian Square in 2016 to determine if the publicly-owned vacant land in Nubian Square could be put to better use, and how redevelopment could improve the quality of life for local residents. Over 50 public workshops, walking tours, community gatherings, and meetings have been held so far to share information, establish a vision for the future, and implement that vision through drafting RFPs.
The RFP for Crescent Parcel, released in January 2021, reflected the PLAN: Nubian community process calling for consistency with area planning history and using development as a catalyst to support local, small, and disadvantaged businesses, and create opportunities for people of color and women. The RFP required a minimum of two-thirds of residential units to be targeted to households with a range of incomes, from 60 to 100 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), with the average AMI not to exceed 80 percent of AMI.
BPDA staff have coordinated closely throughout the review process with the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee (RSMPOC). The RSMPOC was developed to oversee projects that fall under the 2004 Roxbury Strategic Master Plan, and the Committee members have closely collaborated with BPDA staff on PLAN: Nubian Square. The RSMPOC is made-up of fifteen volunteer members who represent the community.

Drexel Village Proposal

Drexel Village, LLC was approved by the BPDA for tentative designation for the parcel following community support and an unanimous vote of support by the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee on October 4, 2021. The partnership is led by the Planning Office of Urban Affairs and J. Garland Enterprises. The proposed development will bring 217 residential units, at least 150 of which will be income-restricted, 31,000 square feet of community space for the social service agencies currently located on the Crescent Parcel, and parish space for the St. Katharine Drexel Church. The proposal preserves over an acre of open space at the corner of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Tremont street, will preserve 35 existing trees on the development, and plant 65 new trees. 
The Drexel Village, LLC proposal envisions this development as family-focused and community-oriented. The 150 affordable housing units in this proposal will include  a large number of two, three, and four bedroom units.  In addition to the space provided to the local social services onsite, the developer will  preserve and enhance the open space at the site, including passive recreation, placemaking, and gathering spaces. In addition to a commitment to the Boston Residents Jobs Policy, the project has a 25 percent neighborhood workforce goal. 
The Crescent Parcel is an approximately 72,905 square feet site composed of eight parcels of vacant land; two owned by the BPDA, three owned by MassDOT and three owned by the City of Boston. Prior to final designation to the selected proponent, the BPDA will acquire rights to the parcels owned by the City and MassDOT. 
The Crescent Parcel Request for Proposal (RFP) has undergone extensive community process as one of ten publicly-owned vacant properties in the Nubian Square area of Roxbury that comprise PLAN: Nubian Square. Since July 2018, six publicly owned PLAN: Nubian properties have been designated which include a combination of BPDA, Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), and State ownership. The tentative designation will allow the project to kick-off its BPDA Article 80 public process alongside the community.

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