Not everybody thrilled with city plans to move school offices to Roxbury

Roxbury Wakeup is a site dedicated to the premise that the city's plans to renovate the Ferdinand building as the new BPS headquarters is just a plot to gentrify the Dudley Square area:

This project will essentially put a stop to any future retail and social growth, as well as any possible wealth building within the community. It is a CIVIC MUNICIPAL BUILDING. It is a static linear placeholder for the city’s use. Relocating the Boston Public School headquarters’ 500 employees does not GENERATE local jobs. The jobs are already filled! It is not an organic revitalization component and does not ADD to the fabric of this creative, artistic, historic community, and will systemically drain its energy. It is a micro filler, and not a solution that will successfully address the macro issues of this community. It is GENTRIFICATION.

Proposed alternative: Turn the Ferdinand into a hub of social and multimedia networking that would generate new jobs.



Free tagging: 


don't get it

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I don't get this rant at all. They seem to want a tech company instead of a city agency, but they also don't want gentrification. Guess what? Assuming a big tech company would want to move to Dudley right now, it would be much more likely to lead to gentrification since engineers tend to be more white and better paid than teachers and BPS officials. I don't think a big tech company would want to move to Dudley right now - these companies tend to be very focused on attracting talent and Dudley is not the best place to find MIT or Harvard engineering grads. Also, there's no reason to believe that BPS can't be an anchor tenant for further growth in the same way that the Federal Courthouse has led to growth on the South Boston waterfront.

It makes zero sense.

It is like saying an empty building would be better because they could then fill that empty building with local workers.

I understand the whole keeping people out of Roxbury who don't care about Roxbury thing, but the economics from this rant doesn't add up.

Someone throw a dictionary at these people

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And follow it up with a clue.

First, they need to look up "gentrification". They are clearly lost on the concept.

Second, brining 500 people into the are to work won't generate new jobs? Huh? These people will arrive, sealed in little containers which they're not allowed out of until the end of the day? They'll never: Buy lunch? Need their clothing dry cleaned? Find a last-minute anniversary present?

See, this is the crazy thing about employment; it tends to generate even MORE employment. That may or may not lead to gentrification of the area. But they seem to be unclear about that being a good or bad thing, so...

New Definition

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Gentrification is just a buzz word for stuff you don't like now. It's another term the NIMBYs can use to try making an argument for hating change.

Please Wake Up

@Lecil: ”Someone throw a dictionary at THESE people”. Really?

First off, you failed to define ‘gentrification’ yourself, which you should have done just to demonstrate that you practice what you preach, or better yet, even own one. And if so, you should read it yourself before you decide to throw it at what/whom ever.

Contrary to what you obviously do not understand, this is a step in the direction of gentrification. If you don’t agree, fine because there is really no progressive engagement with anyone who categorizes folks as ‘these people’.

Additionally, what make you feel like we should be happy to serve you, do your laundry, and pretty much be at your beckon call? Sweetie, you have life seriously fucked up.

Please stay out of Dudley, even after gentrification.

Would it generate jobs to

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Would it generate jobs to support 500 new people in the area who need to eat lunch, run errands, meet a friend for a drink/coffee after work?

I think local retail, food, and service businesses would benefit. And if people like the area, they may relocate. Or people from the area may be more likely to apply for jobs for the ease of commute.

There's this weird thing going on in Dudley Square where some people complain that nothing is being done by outsiders/government to fix things and then wail about gentrification and outsiders invading their neighborhood.

Low-paying service jobs

Perhaps not everyone is all that thrilled at the prospect of waiting on city employees. But you're right that if you're a small business owner in the area, you may in fact benefit- until the rent goes up and you're displaced by a D'Angelos or something.
Of course the biggest beneficiary will be Aga's Highland Tap, offering free lunch and one lap dance to city employees every Thursday :)

These people would rather

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These people would rather live in the decaying rubble of Dudley Square than see anything change which happens to involve bringing in outsiders. There's a certain level of racism and socioeconomic bigotry on their part which if it wasn't a majority minority area would be considered scandalous.


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I don't necessarily agree with this guy's rant, but how is there a "certain level of racism and socioeconomic bigotry"? And when you say "these people," could you please specify who you are referring to?

'Gentrification' has become a

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'Gentrification' has become a convenient term for bigoted ethnic and socioeconomic enclaves to latch onto when they want to deny the ability of outsiders to move into an established neighborhood.

Dudley has a relatively homogenous population. The complaint about 'gentrification' is really another way of residents saying they don't want the 'diversity' of people potentially of different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds coming into their neighborhood and changing things. I don't understand how for years people complained about the greybeards in Charlestown and Southie using the term 'gentrification' as a cover for their outdated bigotry but now it's perfectly fine for the minority majority populations in Roxbury, JP, and to a lesser extent Chinatown to throw the same idiotic tantrums.

Does it?

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Check out the census data for the surrounding tracts, and you'll see that they're less homogeneous than many in the city (in terms of race, income, education level, family structure). Tract 814 is actually one of the most diverse in the area in terms of varied incomes, education levels, races, family types.

Ohhh okay

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So this is a "reverse racism" argument. Why don't you come out and say that? That's right, these people are just against the "diversity" of developers coming in, pricing them out of their neighborhoods and injecting lots of economic development (like the Angelo's sub shops). No way I'm defending the JP Gentrification Action Squads, but gentrification is real and has nasty effects on people who are "in the way" of progress. So much of Boston's history deals with this.

I don't agree with the original blogger's tinfoil hat attitude, but if you are seriously breaking out a reverse racism argument, I'll reach for some Reynolds.

Write up a Business Plan

I have a friend who was involved in the redevelopment of a block of retail that had struggled in the past. When he met with the neighborhood, they were horrified that chain stores were interested in the buildings, and insisted that the block should have a certain mix of stores ...

Until he asked them, point blank, if they would ever go to such types of stores ... (crickets). Turns out that they were ideologically driven about what "looked nice", but hadn't considered "viable".

I wouldn't dismiss this out of hand, but the people who are disturbed by the city's plans should actually prepare and defend a business plan for an alternative use of the space. In other words, let's see what reality has to do with it. At worst, they might learn something from the exercise to apply in other areas of the community.

It was a joke Dan

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Tumbler = type of short drinking glass for alcohol? It does seem a bit of an illogical rant as others point out.

As for the Ferdinand - I think it could be a good use of city resources if they for example sold off the Court street building (for which they could get a small fortune) and moved into cheaper digs in Dudley - with the side benefit of improving a cool building that the private sector doesn't want to take on and hopefully bring some needed new life/cash infusion to the area. Unfortunately Adam replied to an earlier post that they aren't selling Court Street - but rather closing BFD HQ - moving them to 1010 Mass and moving some of the personnel from 1010 to Court Street (if that's the case not sure why they don't just move those 1010 people to Dudley - close to where they already work and you don't have to uproot everything at Court Street).

As for a good use of city resources, critic though I usually am, this could be. I don't have enough financial information to make a determination. However, if you are washing BFD HQ against renovating the Ferdinand it seems to make a lot less sense than selling Court St. to renovate and pocketing the proceeds.

C'mon - you know me better than to be a blind supporter of big showy Menino projects! :-)

I do, that's why I wondered.

I just can never get past the fact that there is always money for these construction projects, followed by a yearly financial crisis with debates about closing schools and libraries, etc.

There is no shortage of money

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City councilor who shall remain nameless told me long ago - every time we go to the mayor for something he tells us there's no money for it, but then when he wants something, the money magically appears. I've even found a few of the places where the mayor's Keebler elves keep that money hidden.

The charades about closing libraries etc. are how the mayor justifies the need for new taxes and "public/private" partnerships. Meanwhile, we have a billion bucks in the bank even though we blow the budget by tens of millions of dollars and STILL manage to eke out a small surplus every year. Hmmm... I guess it's gotta go somewhere - why not the Ferdinand? God forbid they should fund a park or a library or a school that's been neglected and all of heaven forbid they should forgo a tax increase one year.

Come on, not this again!

Meanwhile, we have a billion bucks in the bank even though we blow the budget by tens of millions of dollars and STILL manage to eke out a small surplus every year.

We've been through this before -- that money in the bank has strings attached. It's called restricted revenue and can't just be spent on whatever fancies city hall.

Wanna bet?

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Twice over 10 years the governor cut state aid in the middle of the fiscal year and the city magically was able to balance the budget without the state aid and little or no cuts. Where did that money come from? Every year the city blows through tens of millions in unexpected OT - yet perennially finds the money for that. About 2007 when oil prices spiked they needed $10 million to fund fuel in the budget - and they found it (but then just as magically lost it when fuel prices quickly came back down-now that $10 million is still embedded in the budget and compounds about 3% every year). Here's the big one - I think it was FY 2011 when they determined the pension fund was woefully underfunded yet somehow came up with $60-70 million to bring up the balances in the pension funds (this is the one argument that can be made that the city's broke - at some point any spare money we have will need to be spent on pensions and retiree healthcare). Very little of the funds are truly restricted - I think about 10-20% at most - the rest can pretty much be spent on whatever fancies city hall.

It's not worth trying to change your mind, but

I'd like to point out that when you throw out a figure with nine 0s in it, then begin discussing 10s of millions, you have moved on to a different conversation.

some money is fungible, some money crosses fiscal years. What you take to be magic is really hard decisions about redirecting resources. Either from a project of less importance or from next year, the money isn't coming from a slush fund. That would be uncovered by auditing. You can criticize the fact that when they close the gap in this way, they are kicking the problem down the road, but when the snow removal budget is blown and you still have to pay the guy who just cleared the streets, options are usually limited. This is governance -- determining how to balance limited resources against the service requirements for the city. The billion in the bank is mostly spoken for, and City Hall is left having to sweat the small amounts.

Hundreds - not tens

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Just the examples I cite alone are about $100 million over the past 5 years - maybe more. And that's just a couple of things I know about off the top of my head. I'm sure if you dug you'd probably find 10s or hundreds of millions more. The point is - even after accounting for all of earmarked funds, needs for cash flow for payroll etc. (which alone totals almost $1 billion) the city still has over $500 million in "unassigned" cash. What could the city POSSIBLY need to do with $500 million (and this is AFTER an under the radar refunding of pensions to the tune of about $70 million ) In the meantime they tell us they need more and more taxes and there is not enough money for the libraries, the schools and a host of other things and we even have to sell pieces of the Boston Common off to the highest bidder, I mean sponsor, to raise a few million $ for renovations to one of the most historical parks in the country. Leaving the budget aside and sticking just to the city's balance sheet - I'll throw it over to you - why on the face of the planet does the city of Boston need a half a billion dollars in cash sitting in short term investments - over and above all of its other obligations? Why do they keep telling us they need new taxes and now the non-profits need to kick in even more incremental money etc., etc, etc. And "rainy day fund" doesn't apply - the city has never needed more than $50 million even in the middle of a hurricane - much less $511 million.

Examples to refer to?

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Rather than rant and counter-rant, are there examples we can study? Did 1010 Mass Ave help that area? Did Boston Police HQ and Roxbury CC help that area? Are there other examples where city agencies moved into an area and helped or hurt?

Nice as it sounds, you don't just wave a wand and add to the fabric of an, "creative, artistic, historic community". Look around; they aren't pretty, but consumers often prefer CVS and Dunkin to art galleries and fancy cafe's. And a city agency CAN just move in 500 jobs, and maybe they can put a cafe or art gallery on the ground floor.

It would be good for the neighborhood

There's plenty of opportunity in Dudley for all types of businesses, so I think it's a good thing.

Re: other municipal departments, they had a minimal effect on their neighborhoods but that is more because of where they are located: very little surrounds the BPD, and 1010 Mass Ave has just one strip mall, across the street. Liquor Land is probably happy ISD is there ...

You might think that South End gentrification ran businesses out of the neighborhood, but that just wouldn't be accurate or tell the complete story. Plenty of storefronts were empty. Developers renovated and new businesses moved in. Yes, the liquor store at Union Park closed - big loss. The local camera shop is still here, as our several laundromats.

Gentrification runs up rents? Sure. It also gives you a lot more customers.

The whole point of putting

The whole point of putting BPD HQ on that site was to attract private development of the many empty parcels in the area. Never happened. Northeastern moved in because they have no where else to build. The rest of it was a total failure.

Johnny Boy You Are A Gem!

@JohnAKeith: “He's a [strike]fucking[/strike] fudging idiot.”. Says the guy who cannot add a simple strikethrough HTML code.

Johnny boy, you are a gem!

Question: Why do my views draw that much emotion and ire out of you? Do you have something to gain from this project. Or was this just a simpleton dumbass remark?

Come on…spill the beans Johnny! What’s your connection to this project bud? Man, your remark alone clearly demonstrates the high level of ignorance you have. Congrats! Although, suffice to say, you will not be receiving any real estate referrals from me, just not too sure about your professionalism.

Maybe you’re a bit stressed because of the housing market downturn? Well whatever it is, I hope it works out for you!

My twitter feed may be useless to you, but again I reiterate, it is called Roxbury Wake Up, not SimpleAssJohnnyWakeUp. Feel me bud?

Let's not get into HTML wars

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The site allegedly supports two markup languages: HTML and BBCode. That one doesn't seem to work all the time is, if anybody's fault, mine, not John's.

People Live History

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I've worked in Dudley off and on over the years. The fear of gentrification has been very strong there for decades because so many Dudley residents (or their parents) lived through the rapid gentrification of the South End. Many of the people displaced from there ended up in the Dudley area. You've got to take this fear seriously, even if you think it doesn't make sense. It's like the Jews who moved from Mattapan to Randolph and then left Randolph out of fear of history.

For what it's worth, I think it's nearly impossible to gentrify Dudley. The vast majority of the residential space and even some of the retail in the immediate area is owned by local community groups and preserved for affordable housing: Madison Park Village, Dartmouth Hotel, Orchard Gardens, Ruggles-Shawmut, etc.

Is Dudley really THAT artistic?

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Is Dudley really THAT artistic? They compare it to U Street in DC, but I really don't see the kind of restaurants and music in Dudley that exist on U Street. Is there anything that's the equivalent of, say Busboys & Poets, a DC restaurant/bookstore where people from all walks of life hang out? It seems like the restaurants in Dudley are small pizza shops and Kennedy Fried Chicken. There are a couple of ethnic places but they seem pretty far-flung. The South End seems a lot closer to U Street, even if the African American influence is less prevalent.

Is/was your street....

Are you black or Jewish? Or a Yankee? All lived in Dudley square over the years.

I understand how this move can be a bad step forward in terms of destroying culture in the area. And there are probably better uses for that building. But it doesn't mean Dudley has to be ruined because of it.

And Harlem is different, but people think 2012 Harlem is worse than 1970 Harlem, when in fact 1930 Harlem was better than them both.

Places change and the market dictates these changes for better or worse. We can try to force certain groups of people to live or not live in certain places but is that right in the end?

Roxbury Wakeup post

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I think the Roxbury Wakeup commentary on the new office building at Dudley Square's Ferdinand site is partly on-point and partly off-point. It is correct to say that the new school department office complex will not directly create new jobs and that it does not address one of the real issues facing Roxbury, the possiblity of displacement of long-time residents over the next few decades, a la the South End from 1980 to 2000.

Not addressed by Roxbury Wakeup post is the potential for indirect creation of jobs by the new building, in particular through the impact of the first floor, which is not part of the school department office space. If properly designed and executed by people who know retail and public spaces, there could be new small businesses and jobs created and sustained there. There is genuine potential for a variety of night-life activities there--think restaurants and clubs--attractive for families and singles. And if the local business district can effectively market its shopping opportunities, the school department employees will spend money there, potentially generating more jobs. Let's hope the final product offers more than another office building that goes dark at 6 pm.

My blog is called Roxbury Wake Up For a Reason

@ The rest of the Universal Hub posters, I would encourage you to read my blog, and know the facts before you set off on your rants.

With the caliber of higher learning institutions in Boston, you would think your responses would be a bit more ‘informed’ to say the least. But this IS Boston, and I already know what to expect.

My so-called rant may seems illogical to you because you have not taken the time to understand the dynamics of the issues. And even if you did, you do not live here, nor have you grown up in this area to understand.

My blog is called Roxbury Wake Up. Not Boston Mass Wake Up. Those who get it will get it. Get it?

Universal Hub posters, I

Universal Hub posters,

I would encourage you to read my blog, and know the facts before you set off on your rants. With the caliber of higher learning institutions in Boston, you would think your responses would be a bit more ‘informed’ to say the least. But this IS Boston, and I already know what to expect.

My so-called rant may seems illogical to you because you have not taken the time to understand the dynamics of the issues. And even if you did, you do not live here, nor have you grown up in this area to understand.

My blog is called Roxbury Wake Up. Not Boston Mass Wake Up. Those who get it will get it. Get it?

The problem is...

See, Roxy, the problem is that we didn't go to high-caliber institutions of learning in Roxbury. Up in here you've got all these losers who went to Boston Latin, or to MIT, or Harvard, or to BU or some such. None of them in Roxbury. If we went to one of those fine institutions of higher learning in Roxbury, we'd understand.


I thought it was in keeping with prior snot levels.

Okay, you're right

It was needlessly snotty.

I would better have said: If you're setting your bar for what constitutes gentrification at the level of Boston Public School employees, you don't get to berate your interlocutors for not acting like products of Boston's finest universities.