New Boston Ventures has filed plans with the BPDA to replace the Harriet Tubman House on Columbus Avenue at Massachusetts Avenue with a six-story condo building that would feature a "social enterprise cafe" called the Hi-Hat and space for programs run by the United South End Settlements - which is selling the site to the developers and plans to use the proceeds to renovate its other building on Rutland Street and to support its community programs.
Of the 66 condos, 11 would be built as work/live spaces for artists on the ground and second floors, the developers say in a filing with the BPDA. Some 17% of the units - 4 percentage points more than the city requires - would be sold as affordable, New Boston Ventures says. The non-artist condos would be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The new building would have a 42-space garage.
The cafe's name is an homage to the jazz cafe that long occupied the site. New Boston Ventures, with offices on Tremont St., said it has already helped five of the six non-commercial tenants now in the Harriet Tubman building find new space, and that it will work to move or reproduce Jameel Parker's current mural on a wall of the building elsewhere.
The ground floor commercial uses will introduce transparency to the Project site and will activate the pedestrian experience at this corner. Streetscape features including street trees, light poles, trash/recycling receptacles, public bike racks and benches will be incorporated and/or enhanced as part of the Project’s associated public realm improvements. ...
The social enterprise café, to be officially named The Hi-Hat in honor of the famed jazz club that once occupied that corner, will be located at the corner of Columbus and Massachusetts avenues. The exhibit gallery will help to highlight the rich cultural heritage of the neighborhood. A “pocket garden” will line the edge of the Project Site along West Springfield Street, and will add a year-round visual amenity to the residential streetscape.
USES began looking for a buyer in 2018 after concluding it couldn't afford the repairs the building needs, especially because most of its programs were running at a deficit. New Boston Ventures says it will grant USES roughly 2,300 square feet of space at no cost in the new building for a gallery and other programs.
The developers hope to begin 18 months of construction late this year.
566 Columbus Ave. project notification form (56M PDF).