Two non-profits take crack at reusing Roslindale Square's decaying brick behemoth
Two non-profit groups are the latest to take a whack at finding uses for the long dormant, increasingly decaying Roslindale Square substation, which lost its purpose decades ago when trolleys stopped running down Washington Street.
Last fall, the BRA, which now owns the building, gave Historic Boston, Inc. and Roslindale Village Main Street a year to come up with a re-use proposal.
The award came three years after the BRA seemed close to selecting a private developer to renovate and reuse the cracked structure that still has original transformer equipment inside. Several years before that, the MBTA awarded the building to a Hyde Park garage owner - then rescinded the sale, before selling the building to the BRA.
The cost of renovations - estimated at $1 million - doomed the proposals before the BRA, all of which were withdrawn. Among the ideas: Turning the substation into a restaurant.
Historic Boston and Roslindale Village Main Street will try to come up with proposals that can preserve the historic 1911 structure without requiring the entire $1-million rehab that would be needed to use the entire building for new purposes, according to Adam Rogoff, chair of the Substation Redevelopment Committee.
HBI and Roslindale Village Main Street have unique access to resources that private developers do not and hope to put together a proposal that will preserve the substation and provide use to the Roslindale community, he said.
The Roslindale substation, was built in 1911 to convert current from a South Boston power plant into a form the trolleys that once ran past it can use. Even today, you can see a manhole cover in the sidewalk outside stamped with the initials of the Boston Elevated Railway Co.: