Developer says Dudley Square's first skyscraper would spur additional development

Proposed Rio Grande tower in Roxbury's Dudley Square

Archtect's rendering.

A developer hopes to break ground this coming spring on a $144-million, 25-story tower it says should spur additional development in Dudley Square. In detailed plans filed recently with the BPDA, Rio Grande Dudley Square, LLC writes:

The Rio Grande project will help to create an investment environment for a larger scale of development that will establish Dudley Square as a major destination for work, housing, shopping and entertainment. Taking full advantage of its robust Transit Oriented Development potential, the new residential tower and associated retail and office space will provide a visual urban design exclamation point on the city's skyline.

Just as importantly, offering residences in the proposed tower at multiple price points will provide new options for long time Roxbury residents who want to remain in the neighborhood as well as for empty-nesters and young professionals, who want to live in close proximity to commercial, institutional and cultural resources. Additionally, the project's introduction of well over 200 new residences, and more than 60,000 S.F. of new and renovated retail, entertainment, and office space will add extensive street activity and amenities that will benefit and complement the ongoing revitalization of the neighborhood.

The project, which would incorporate the former Roxbury Institute for Savings Building and the former Boston Consolidated Gas Company Building, in front of the tower, to be built on what is now a parking lot, was the dream of developer Kenneth Guscott, who died in a Milton house fire in March. The formal project notification form was signed by his daughter, Lisa.

The tower would house mainly housing units - mostly apartments, but with a number of condos - with commercial space on the first floor. The commercial buildings would remain commercial space, with the bank building possibly getting community space. The space between the two existing buildings would be turned into an entrance to the tower on the lot, located between Washington, Roxbury and Marvin streets and Shawmut Avenue.

The building would have only three parking spaces. Rio Grande says it is looking at possibly buying a nearby vacant lot for construction of a parking garage, but predicted demand for spaces would be dampened by the fact the tower would rise across the street from the Dudley Square T stop, the busiest bus station in the state.

Looking towards the Back Bay:

Looking from Dudley towards the Back Bay

The fourth floor would get a deck:

Deck

Entranceway:

Entrance

Rio Grande project notification form (20M PDF).

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Comments

The last gold coast in Boston

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Dudley is in demand which means that poor and lower middle class residents will be relocated to Brockton.

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Sounds like a win-win

Good for Boston, good for Brockton.

As our country proceeds down the road towards a third world society, we can expect city centers to be more prosperous and surrounded by belts of low-rent suburbs, like they do it in Latin America.

We have swaths of little cities that used to be supported by manufacturing that is never coming back. Either they rot in place or find a new purpose. Housing regional labor isn't the worst.

In between the megalopolises look for depaving, cessation of postal service, and privatization of fire and police departments. That's the worst.

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Gee,

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Forget to take your happy pills this morning, Socky? Cripes.

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Hope it works for the

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Hope it works for the existing businesses and longtime residences. I don't want to see my friends, family and busuness owners get priced out of Roxbury.

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Too late. Investors are

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Too late. Investors are already scooping up properties in Roxbury.

It breaks my heart to see lots of long term rental residents being forced out of Roxbury as investors buy properties, and boost rents that then only gaggles of students can afford.

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Vacant lots?

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It breaks my heart to see lots that have been vacant for fifty years remain so. This is not removing housing, it's adding.

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You can't get there. I was

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You can't get there. I was hoping the Globe would move to Dudley Square. "We're moving WHERE?"

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25 stories is ridiculous!

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25 stories is ridiculous! Dudley is already outrageously dense and the traffic is horrible. !5 stories ought to be the limit.

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Please tell me you are doing

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Please tell me you are doing an impression of a crazy NIMBY and are not actually serious.
Five stories?!? There are plenty of buildings already taller than that around there. If you don't like the traffic then don't drive. Cities are dense and tall. Perhaps you should consider moving to the Berkshires or something.

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15

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That says 15 with a typo.

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That's a very low standard

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That's a very low standard for "NIMBY".

When something is proposed that is many times larger than it's surroundings there's plenty of things that need to be considered.

Not everything needs to be bigger and denser in all locations.

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Twenty-five stories is great!

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Twenty-five stories is great! Dudley is not at all dense enough and the traffic you complain about is all drive-through, i.e., cars from Rozzie, JP, Milton, W. Roxbury and Dot headed either downtown or to Longwood. The streets roll up at 6 p.m. and there is hardly a soul around in the evenings - a really bizarre circumstance for a major transportation hub.

The second best thing that could happen to Dudley Sq., besides a 25 story tower, would be to make the Washington St/Warren St/Dudley Station triangle a pedestrian-only area. Or to move Dudley Station to Warren St. and develop the current station into a market like Faneuil Hall.

If Roxbury leaders weren't so stuck in a 1950's mindset, they'd be embracing innovation instead of clinging to bizarrely romantic notions of what used to be. Roxbury is a city, not the suburbs and should be developed accordingly! More dense development means a greater supply of rental housing which could drive rents down. It also means more tax dollars for better services and better schools.

Dense, sustainable, attractive, mixed use development is even more essential in Boston neighborhoods as the US pulls out of the Paris accords if Boston wants to stop being a backwater and start leading nationally on the sustainability front.

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Dudley doesn't need new

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Dudley doesn't need new development, it is already over-developed in the sense that it is built up. It needs improvement of services, which is already underway.A smaller building might help but a building this larger will damage the residential nature of the area.

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Overdeveloped?

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You need to get out of town/the country more often.

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Comparing what is already a

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Comparing what is already a very developed area to some of the most developed locations you can find is not a rational proposal.

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It's not supposed to be a residential area

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Since Boston and Roxbury were first founded, Dudley has been one of the state's busiest commercial hubs. It's only been since the mid 80s that Dudley really declined as a commercial area, and area leaders have been working ever since to bring it back. In its heyday, Dudley was the second busiest shopping district in the city, only behind downtown crossing. This area should be dense and crowded. This is a great spot for a tower. As a Roxbury resident, I wholeheartedly approve.

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Dudley?

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Wow! I never thought I'd see the day Dudley became a desirable, or hotbed place in the city. Gentrification is soooo real huh.

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fast forward 15 years

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"Wow! I never thought I'd see the day Uphams Corner became a desirable, or hotbed place in the city. Gentrification is soooo real huh."

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renderings

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That first rendering has two interesting features:

  1. The Jamaican stripe across the cornice of the tower. (If you're going for the Jamaican theme, why call it Rio Grande?)
  2. The large (12 or so stories) brown box to the right - which currently doesn't exist. Presumably that might be the parking garage they would like to put in the lot next to them?

I can't imagine they actually believe that the "multiple price points" is going to result in anything but a pricing out of the current African-American community from this part of Roxbury. To the degree that the businesses downtown that are employing the childless hordes filling up the n'hoods employ people of color, I guess we could see some color in these buildings, but really? Are you gonna sell us a bridge next?

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Pricing Out The African American Community?

Nice racist statement. You are operating under the assumption that all African Americans who live around Dudley are poor. Nice job there. Anything else you picked up on in your Sociology class you want to share?

There are very diverse income streams in Boston neighborhoods, whether the people who live there are white, black, brown, purple, burnt sienna, etc. .

There are a lot of people in and around Dudley who have watched the neighborhood waver for multiple decades. There are a lot of people who actually believe or not own their homes and the multi-family buildings they live in. Why shouldn't they get to reap the benefit of cashing out, or has happened in the South End, South Boston, and Dorchester, keep your house and either watch their equity rise, or collect the rent and take your earned payoff?

Do you have anymore ethnic certainties you want to share with us?

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Its not racist to point out

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Its not racist to point out that gentrification generally benefits mainly white people while not benefiting minorities. Eighty percent of white families in the Boston area own a home while only a third of black families do.

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Soft racism of low expectation

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Why do you think that the jobs coming to this area are beyond the abilities of the people who live there?

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There are lots of poor people

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There are lots of poor people in that neighborhood don't kid yourself. Yes there are some doing well for themselves as well, but there will definitely be people priced out of that area.

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blow it out your ass

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When was the last time you were in Dudley? When was the last time you had a conversation with people who have lived in Dudley for the past 30 or 40 years? I am there every day, right next to that building, working with people who live in the immediate vicinity. They are being priced out.

Go fuck yourself Mr. Costello.

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Gentlemen ..

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I've deleted a couple of oh-so-witty retorts that really are best appreciated in the schoolyards of the better grade schools. I realize it's hard, but let's try to confine ourselves to arguing against the points people make, not simply fling personal insults at each other.

Thank you.

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doo-doo head.

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meet me behind the dumpster....if you dare.

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i don't get it

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What makes you automatically assume the African American community is going to be priced out? There are plenty of African Americans right here in Roxbury who make decent salaries who will afford this building, including myself.

There is no reason that any neighborhood in Boston needs to be designated an "African American zone" any more than it would need to be designated a "poor people zone." We don't have "Italian zones" or "Jewish zones" for exactly the reason that such an idea is not what America is about.

The idea that African Americans and/or poor people need to wall themselves into some special protected Roxbury zone is elitist. The idea that African Americans be sequestered in Roxbury separate from everyone else smacks of racism. Even when some of us African Americans argue we need a separate area to ourselves it is a kind of reverse racism. No other neighborhood in this city would ever get away with saying such things.

It is a good thing for Roxbury to rise again; for too long it has been a dumping ground for social problems that the city has failed to address. Maybe in turning the focus onto this neighborhood and bringing in development those problems will finally be seen by a larger audience.

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Hi Ma,

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While I generally agree with you, I think you are missing the point. When an area gentrifies, some can afford the increase rents but many can't. I am sure that there are many African Americans that make a decent salary, as you say, but many (like poor whites) do not. It is not so much as saying 'these" folks need to live in a certain area, since they people of color; more akin to saying that gentrification of an area makes it not affordable for many people to continue to live in the area.

The history of Roxbury is complex: I am not sure if you are new to the area of if you have lived in the area for quite some time. I do not see it as a "dumping ground" per se but it is an area that is currently affordable for a wide and diverse population to live.

These new builds will being some sort of revitalization to the area but only for a small group of people that can afford it. The other side of all this, is that gentrification will most likely push those making the average salary in the area (or less) of 35K to find cheaper housing. (You can see the same patterns throughout the city.) The problems that you cite have been going for many years and are acknowledged by many but solutions are slow in coming. I am not sure building luxury housing is going to improve anything for many of those who currently live in the area.

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Interesting.

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This development--envisioned by a African-American developer from Roxbury--is kind of an interesting test for a lot of the folks who've been making noise about gentrification, changing neighborhoods, etc. The argument that some make--the 100% for Egleston for example--is that you should ONLY build housing that's affordable for the people who currently live in the neighborhood (though they never seems to take into account the amount of subsidized housing in the area). Here you have a lot of people saying that Dudley NEEDS more upscale housing to retain more prosperous middle- and upper class black residents who are currently leaving the city for Milton or Canton or Randolph, leaving behind a core of urban poor people. It's hard to predict what Dudley will look like in ten years but I have to say that I lean towards favoring development that may encourage an economically diverse neighborhood that provides more of a cultural/social/retail center for a black middle class which we really lack here in Boston.

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Thank you

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I'm one of your white neighbors, and you're saying what I'm not allowed to because of the color of my skin. I didn't move here to displace anyone, and I have plenty of black neighbors who are doing just as well financially as I am or better.

Some older black neighbors just down the street just put their gorgeous 1890s home on the market for $900k. The listing pics show a meticulous interior with on trend updates. The house will go fast, and while it might end up being bought by an owner of a different race, these folks are going to make a huge profit on the place. That profit will hopefully give them a comfortable retirement and give their kids and grandkids a leg up in life. Isn't that the American Dream? Why shouldn't they be allowed to cash out and sell to the highest bidder? Why shouldn't they be allowed to move into a neighborhood that's mostly white, even as the people who replace them move into a neighborhood that's mostly black? Aren't we supposed to be done with separate but equal?

The real problem is not "gentrification," whatever that means. The real problem is that we have huge income inequality in America and it's only getting worse. And when we allow our reactions to that income inequality to devolve into middle class vs lower class or black vs white arguments, we just play into the hands of the super rich. They are happy to have us fight each other for scraps while they continue to vacuum up all the money. The more we fight each other, the more we lose and the more they win.

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well thank you

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As opposed to the other response to my post thank you for actually responding with valid questions/observations as opposed to ad hominem snark about sociology classes.

I don't think anyone who has a problem with gentrification has a problem with the city or the private sector investing in n'hoods. In fact that's what people are usually advocating for in these areas for years. And once they start getting traction they find the place they have improved to be beyond their reach. No one doubts the existence of middle class and wealthy African-Americans in Boston, however we are hardly Hillcrest or Fort Washington. We certainly can let the market have its way with Roxbury and see what results. Or we could look at any of the other n'hoods that have already undergone this process or are in the midst of it, and see what the demographic trends are -- Chinatown, North End, South Boston, Eastie, Jamaica Plain, South End, East Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, etc. But certainly the idea that the descent of realtors and developers on Roxbury will result in our addressing the social problems the city has faced over the years is pretty unlikely. I mean, Boston won't have so much of those problems because Brockton will be receiving them.

As far as this particular project goes, at least it's being proposed by a developer with loooong-time roots in this community. It's kind of the business equivalent of the narrative of the old retirees cashing out their family home in the golden years. Whether the project happens as designed or never occurs the reality is that the wave is washing over Roxbury already. Block by block speculators and developers will get what they want and the n'hood will change (once again). Eventually we won't be having these discussions as there won't be any "poor" n'hoods left in Boston. Maybe not in my lifetime but that housing stock in Grove Hall is just too good for the realtors to pass up....

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If, by chance, you really care about the shadows

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And not these shadows, then, yes, they've got you covered - there's a detailed shadow analysis in the project notification form linked above. They do show shadows falling on the Madison Park fields, but only in the morning in the middle of winter.

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All this NIMBY stuff is just

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All this NIMBY stuff is just bullcrap! I live in Dudley and Roxbury has historically been the dumping ground for everything people didn't want in their nice white neighborhoods. Sober houses, methadone clinics, homeless shelters, bus yards, non-profits of various types are over represented in Roxbury. The fact that all this new housing is not meant for the African American and Latino people who live here now is obvious. This building and the infrastructure that goes with it is being done to bring white people to Roxbury. And you don't have to be poor lo get pushed out. Poor people are already getting pushed out of Roxbury, but elderly homeowners, empty nesters, As white people move in ISD will increase code inspections and homeowners who can't afford upgrades will be pushed out. We watched it happen in the South End which used to be a minority neighborhood - it only took twenty years to turn the South End; Roxbury will likely take even less time. On my block all three houses for sale this years went to white suburbanites.

Roxbury has a character of its own - one that has been built despite every effort to destroy it. These are the people who should get to define whether Roxbury is urban or not, how Dudley will be developed and for whom. A 25 story tower is not consistent with that character and well not benefit anyone but (white) newcomers. Dudley has always been a commercial hub and it should remain so, but it should do so with an eye towards serving the surrounding area, not destroying it.

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Oy.

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Tell that to Tito Jackson and Ayanna Pressley, both of whom support this development AND the developers who are from Roxbury themselves. You can't complain that Dudley never gets anything good and is just a dumping ground etc etc (for non-profits, God forbid) and then when it finally gets something good--better transit, rehabbed buildings, new development--say that you don't want that either. I'm also skeptical that all of your new neighbors are white suburbanites--is this your assumption or did you actually show up on their doorstep with a pie and confirm that they're from beyond the city limits?

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25 stories doesnt seem a huge

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25 stories doesnt seem a huge reach for the area....

26 stories at Mass Ave and Harrison
21 stories at NEU at the end of Melnea
20 and 17 stories further out in Egleston Square

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