The Editors : Yesterday one of Roxbury’s most aware and far-seeing activists posted this response to Shirley Leung’s Boston Globe article about uses of the newly rebuilt Ferdinand Building, which when opened soon will completely reconfigure the activity, noise, and social connections of Dudley Square. We of course are big fans of Haley House, the community eatery that is already setting a cutting edge of style and tone for the new Roxbury.We reprint Ms. Churchill’s post in full for our Roxbury Here readers :“Yesterday morning Shirley Leung from the Boston Globe asked me what I thought of the retail mix proposed for the Ferdinand Building in Dudley. My response: Just read it. I think it’s a bad mix and one that will neither serve the neighborhood nor the tenants. I am happy to see Clover, Parish Cafe group and Shanti. However, I am not thrilled that Clover won out over Haley House. Clover does not currently have a presence in the neighborhood or the loyal following that Haley House has. Additionally, none of the proposed tenants has invested in Dudley/Roxbury the way that Haley House and Discover Roxbury have. The neighborhood is desperate for places that will be open in the evenings and on the weekends – it’s a ghost town after 6 pm – and this municipal building that will be otherwise empty will really need a lively first floor in the evenings and on the weekends to offset the empty floors above. The apparel shop and eye-care place are just wrong for this building – they could go elsewhere in the square.
“That is the other point that people seem to be missing – there is a lot of open retail space in Dudley Square, right now! And much more coming online in the next year or so. I would like to see the city be intentional, thoughtful, and strategic about what goes into the Ferdinand – it represents the future of Roxbury. A Starbucks could go in to a nearby spot today and I am not opposed to a Starbucks in the square. If a Starbucks were to go into the Ferdinand, I would want it to subsidize the rent of a smaller, more financially vulnerable initiative and perhaps that is an innovative way to create a mix that will be successful for the neighbors, tenants, and financially.— by Mary Churchill
Very troubled by all of the CDC’s present tat the walk, o bend the ear, so to speak, of the new Mayor as he walked the Dudley Square area. CDC’s are not community leaders, albeit they are very active in their own interests, rarely ours, and shouldn’t be seen as ours.
May 6 at 5:14 PM
Today at 12:15 PM
Below is a facebook post and reply to my dear Aunt Viola who happened to notice some of the goings on from the WalkBoston tour in Dudley yesterday.
Viola Howard fb post: “Fond memories of Hibernian Hall during the late fifties early sixties attending the Cape Verdean dances….Great memories, fun times and oh the music!!!……”
@Auntie Vi: You probably wouldn’t recognize Dudley now from the 50’s and 60’s. There’s a lot happening. I credit the mayor for sharing his parent’s experience of Hibernian as a dance hall and his voiced commitment to work on preserving Dudley’s history and its people. But sadly, the context and narrative that could speak to your fond memories of Cape Verdean dances at Hibernian, along with the mayor’s reflections, were sorely missing from the actual WalkBoston tour of Dudley that proceeded the gathering at Hibernian.
That’s because the WalkBoston tour was co-opted by the community development corporations that helped sponsor the walk. From the eyes of many the walking tour was strategically designed and meant to promote their various development projects in and around Dudley Square.
Your comment about “oh the music” speaks to the missed opportunity around art and culture and the transformative power of each to engage and bring us together. To have our account hijacked in the interest of gaining favor with the new mayor to promote the development agendas and interests of a cohort of CDC’s over our interests is unconscionable!
I trust the mayor sees this walk for what it was: money and power trying to steer policy! Policy that very often is not the will of the people!
Really a shame!
—- Rodney Singleton / seen From the Hill
^ Access to Capital panel : Ed Merritt, Ron Walker, Teri Williams, Richard Soo Hoo, Rafael Carbonell, Bruce Bickerstaff
—- —- —-
Big changes are afoot in the part of Boston called Roxbury. The 120 million dollar reconstruction of the Ferdinand Building in Dudley Square has reached the leasing stage, with many enterprises competing for street-level retail spaces. Above them will be the 500 employees of Boston’s Public School administration, re-locating from its present Downtown digs.
This by itself i big economic news. 500 well-paid employees will be eating lunch in Dudley Square. Some will do a bit of shopping there. many will stop for coffee before the work day or stay for coffee after it. If the 500 employees spend an average of just $ 10 a day in Dudley, it adds up to $ 25,000 every work week, $ 1,250,000 a year.
Spread over the entire Roxbury community, that’s not a huge amount, but it’s not to be shooed away. If anything, this million-plus dollars has already started the big money ball rolling through Roxbury’s business district. thus it was excellent timing to find Roxbury’s City Councillor, Tito Jackson, emceeing an “Access to Capital” Forum last night, to help channel some of that money ball into the area’s entrepreneurs and business hopefuls.
There, at the Boys and Girls Club, were seven major money and business players, including Rafael Carbonell from the City of Boston’s Neighborhood Development Office, Bruce Bickerstaff of the Zoning Board of Appeals, two bank presidents (Ed Merritt of Mt Washington Bank and Teri Williams of one United), a venture capitalist, and an advisor from the Boston Foundation. Successful entrepreneur Glynn Lloyd (of City Fresh Foods) also spoke.
^ Glynn Lloyd of City Fresh foods
About 50 community business owners and hopefuls attended. They learned a lot about what is needed if one wants access to capital : a financial statement,m tax returns, cash flow, earnings, equity in real estate. All of this is standard stuff. Apply for a small business loan at any bank, and these are what the loan officer will ask for. I heard no exceptions, no deals offered that would waive these basics. There was also talk, by CPA Richard Soo Hoo, of how to assure that a business retains some of the money it takes ion — basic accounting. Again, no exceptions, and no compromising the requirements.
^ Ed Merritt, President of Mt Washington Bank
^ Teri Williams, President of One United, the nation’s largest Black-owned bank
Little was said about access to venture capital and nothing at all about access to start-up funding — “angel” investing, as it’s called. mayor Walsh has stated that the Ferdinand Building will set aside space for local start-up businesses; but how are these to start if there’s no start-up financing ? Start-up entrepreneurs don’t always have equity in real estate, or credit, or more than survival money at all. What they have is an idea and a business plan. What they need is ‘angel” investing. It would have been nice had an ‘angel” investor or two been on offer at the Forum.
Still, there was one-on-one networking after the formal Forum time ended, and many local entrepreneur hopefuls talked privately with the bank presidents and with each other. The process of bringing money into Roxbury businesses will not happen on a finger snap. It will take years to establish. Yet last night seemed a decent first step. Hopefully money people will follow it up. Certainly they should, because money is coming into Roxbury — real estate, business, city administration. What demographic shape that money will create for Roxbury — will the money empower local residents first, newcomers to the neighborhood later ? — is not yet clear, but vast change has already started and is gaining momentum.
—- Mike Freedberg / Roxbury Here
below : the emcee himself : District City Councillor Tito Jackson
From: Derek Lumpkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 10:01 PM
Subject: Recap: Rounding Up the Square
Reading the first writing by Rodney Singleton published in this paper, as is my duty, I was struck by the persistence, in our settlement on the tidal flats and hills south of Boston Neck, of housing for our people. I well remember that we were talking housing 45 years ago when I first came to the town we named Roxbury in honor of the England home of our ministers, Theodore Weld and John Eliot. In my time, a man was hardly expected to live 45 years, much less to recall participating in debates that took floor that long ago and to be here, now, at his desk, writing to the same topic. But so it be.
45 years ago, there was, in the Massachusetts-bay, an “issues convention” — i use modern terms for the convenience of the reader — sponsored by the Massachusetts Republican Party, then still true to Governor Winthrop’s vision; indeed, I myself was appointed by the Governor’s descendant, John Winthrop Sears, to the Issues Convention’s “urban affairs” committee, upon which, I, as a young Dudley recently immigrated from Yardley in Northamptonshire, served alongside the lady Melnea Cass, who was then Roxbury town’s Republican State Committeewoman — she was the eyes and ears of United States Senator Edward Brooke, a Roxbury citizen. On our committee sat housing advocates, the keeper of a homeless shelter, reverend clergy, Republican Party chairman Josiah Spaulding, and a Member of the General Court. Our committee took testimony of many; chiefest of the petitions presented was a proposal that our Massachusetts government regulate housing as a utility — as in our 1634 New England School Law the General Court had already enacted with respect to common schools. We the committee put many questions to the petitoners — an assembly of clergy and citizens inspired by our ministers of the Gospel — as to how the condition of regulated utility would be managed; whence the funds would arise to enable it; where and when such regulated housing would be built.
Young though I was, I too had questions : why could not private citizens do what, after all, we had all come to these shores to do ? And was told that for many Roxbury citizens the toil of everyday survival and the keeping of family ceded no time nor funds; that most of our citizens lived in homes, built by themselves or taken to, homes open to the weather, or unhealthy of air, into which all manner of insects, rodents, and such like unstoppably swarmed, given the small means and large toil burdening our common people. I knew whereof to be true. And as our General Court had already determined that schooling should be a public charge for the literate improvement of all, I could find no reason not to extend the same purpose to the housing of all.
Yet our proposal did not proceed. It was made and forgotten; the Election of 1970 was debated on other matters — conservation of lands and whether or not to build a road we called “I 95.” (Our citizens, myself included, said “no,” and the road was not built.) No wonder, I suppose, that housing for all the citizens of Roxbury continues to be a living issue. Such is the testimony of Mr. Singleton. Thus grievously has our mission in this New land attrited !
Mr. Singleton complains, not that there is no new housing on offer, but of the plans presented by the current proposers. To me this represents improvement. The Roxbury whose roads I travel today has much, much new housing. Look along washington Street, in the flats we called Lower Roxbury, on Alpine Hill, and in the lands we once called Orchard park. Rows of dwellings, of a style much consistent with Roxbury precedent (homes reminiscent of the London I once lived in) line both avenue and street, court and alley. Truly Roxbury has not failed to provide.
Yet as Mr. Singleton attends, almost all of the homes built in Roxbury these past 20 years are for rent to tenants; whereas our settlement intended for every citizen to own his land and home. This, our new undertakings appear not to honor. What a mistake. Though we surely accord an honest profit to those who would build homes for others, it cannot be a boon to Roxbury to bulk the number of our tenancies and defer the freeholding. It is well established that the owners of freeholds maintain them more diligently than do most tenants, who come and go; and that freeholders commit to a community more actively than those who merely pay a monthly sum to occupy. (Which is not to disparage those who tenant, for most of whom finance will not accomodate purchase.)
Mr. Singleton speaks to this point, and as he does so, he speaks for me.
Let the builders of Bartlett Street and the Atkins Building offer them for sale, first and second. For sale as freeholds as we are a free people.
But housing should no longer be the first mind of our Roxbury settlement. Commerce calls us. As Boston beyond the Neck is as much a commercial venture as residential, so should Roxbury now be. Merchants and craftsmen, developers of a device my young successors call “the internet,” inventors of devices for better use thereof — Roxbury citizens should be talking of these, and not merely talking. It is time to be doing. Doing not by travel to Boston but in our Roxbury itself. Are we merely an appendage ? i think not.
True, we may require that Massachusetts as a polity, by our common Legislature, help and succor us, for our means be often unequal to the task; and we may with good cause seek such succor, for it is to the interest of all that our Roxbury experiment succeed, situated, as we are, in the very center of the urbanity that we call “Greater Boston.”
Roxbury cannot be only a collection of residences, tenanted or freeheld. To succeed, we must plant commerce and harvest it. In the Square named after myself there is much construction at present of space commercial or thereof intended. More is needed. I make list of many : Venturers, merchants, devisers, printers, banking & clearing houses, theaters, meeting halls, inns and places of food and drink. When I look around me at Roxbury people, I see a diversity of looks, languages conditions, costumes, and sports as varied as what I see every time that I am in London, Paris, or Venice. Far smaller we may be than these great cities, but no less in situation.
We have done well, it is clear, to have attracted to us such a variety of men, women, and children. It is clear, too, that many more, from Boston will soon be moving outward, across the Neck, into our yet incomplete settlement. Our duty is to assure them a community in which commerce is not merely a fundless proposal, freeholding not set aside for some future century.
—- Your obedient servant, Thomas Dudley / the Dudley Files