Friday, March 12, 2010

Blog Post No. 2010-4: Dudley Village extends efforts to right the triangle

Three decades into its revitalization, the Dudley Triangle reaches almost to its eastern limit.

Location: Dudley Street, between East Cottage Street and Burgess Street, Roxbury/Dorchester Line in Boston, MA.
Year of Urban Faric Restoration: 2007-2008.

Photos: Walking more or less west to east along Dudley Street for a three-block stretch, demonstrating just how well the new stuctures fit in with the existing urban fabric here.

The Story: The new structures in these photos are the collection of 5 buildings that comprise Dudley Village, a 50-unit affordable rental apartments with approximately 6,260 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, located on the border between the Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester along Dudley Street. In the 5th photo, the building under construction is the new Salvation Army Corps Center, a major new community center donated to the City by the Salvation Army through the generosity of the Kroc Family Foundation. Just beyond the Corps Center is the Uphams Corner stop on the MBTA's Fairmount Commuter Rail Line. Yes, careful reader, we've got ourselves a bona fide TOD (transit-oriented development) here.
A local non-profit community development corporation -- Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC) -- led development of the project, which is located on land controlled by a community land trust -- Dudley Neighbors Incorporated (DNI). DNI and its affiliated organization -- Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) -- grew out of a grassroots response to the massive abandonment and deconstruction of the Dudley Triangle in Roxbury (the area principally bounded by Blue Hill Avenue on the west, Dudley Street on the north, the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line on the east, and Quincy Street on the south) in the 1950s and 1960s. Founded in the early 1980s, DNI/DSNI straddles the worlds of community land trusts, community organizing, and planning/development. It is the principal entity that has led the neighborhood back from the brink over the last 25 years. It is also the entity that led the process to arrive at the "Urban Village" plan for the Dudley Triangle in 2000 that provided the basis for Dudley Village. DBEDC is more of a traditional community development corporation, founded in 1979 and now a flagship of Boston's CDC world. DBEDC's service area stretches to the east of the Dudley Village development into Uphams Corner and North Dorchester. Over its 30 years, it has developed over 900 units of affordable housing and 164,000 square feet of commercial space.
Over the last five years, DBEDC, along with its CDC partners at Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Mattapan Community Development Corporation, and Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation [FULL RTUF Disclosure: I have been a board member of the last organization for the last 9 years], has been advocating as the Fairmount Collaborative for new stops and increased service on the MBTA's Fairmount Commuter Rail Line. The Fairmount line is the only commuter rail line that runs entirely within Boston's city limits, but it was largely forgotten, left with few stops and poor service for the last several decades. The line happens to make those few steps in some of the poorest, most transit-dependent neighborhoods in the city. Enter community organizers at the Four Corners Action Coalition and their fellow community groups as well as the CDC members of the Collaborative, who have been enormously successful in banding together to focus energy and political will on the Fairmount line's issues. The first of 4 new approved stations is under construction now, and the second is in design. Another part of the Collaborative's strategy has been to position member CDCs to acquire site control of key parcels near the existing and new stations on the line now, before the new stations and service come on line. Dudley Village fits squarely within that strategy. Here's hoping all of the new developments that come after -- sponsored by the Collaborative's CDCs or by private developers -- fit as well into the urban fabric as does Dudley Village.
RTUF Sketch of the Restored Urban Fabric: You can see from the sketch that the project essentially restores more than 2 blocks of street wall on the northeastern side of Dudley Street. Very nice work.

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