Two teams compete to develop the Roxbury plot

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Two proposals to transform the vacant land in Roxbury known as Parcel P3 have been presented to the town’s planning and development agency, each promising new affordable housing and economic development in the area.

The 7.7-acre parcel has lain largely vacant for nearly 60 years, with an unfinished highway project and failed redevelopment attempts leaving the lot in limbo.

One proposal comes from HYM and Our City at Peace, a joint venture between Boston-based HYM Investment Group and the Our City at Peace real estate firm formed by the Reverend Jeffrey Brown. Their plan includes a five-building complex with affordable and market-priced rental and homeownership units, laboratory and retail space, and green space for the community.

Brown, in a conversation with the banner, said affordable housing is really the star of the proposal – bringing an important resource to Roxbury.

“What I’ve done in Boston and other cities is reduce violence and work with the community,” he said. “Seeing the repeated violence that happens in the city, its cyclical nature, and realizing that part of the reason is not because we don’t have great programs that could address the problem of violence, but because there is the structural issues that stand in the way of a breakthrough…one of those big hurdles is housing.

The HYM/Our City at Peace proposal includes two buildings for labs and retail space, a high-rise with 164 affordable rental units and 118 market-priced rentals, and two buildings with 144 limited-income condos for sale and 40 additional condos available at market rate.

During the process of creating its RFP, Roxbury’s Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee, organized by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), heard community feedback and incorporated the ideas as non-negotiable for developers.

These included affordable housing, employment opportunities for Roxbury residents, diversity of team stakeholders, and promotion of Roxbury’s existing cultural and retail businesses.

“The RFP called for jobs and permanent employment for Roxbury residents,” said Oversight Committee member Lorraine Payne Wheeler. “And we already talked about it. These guidelines applied to all plots in the Nubian square. But somehow, other than retail jobs, there really hasn’t been much of that kind of wealth creation for residents.

HYM and Our City at Peace boast that their project will create new jobs in the life science industry with lab space near affordable housing.

“These are great jobs that pay very well, but often don’t require the highest levels of education,” said Tom O’Brien, former director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and managing partner of HYM.

He said the team is coordinating with educational institutions such as Roxbury Community College, Madison Park High School and the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology to ensure appropriate job training is available to take advantage of new positions. available.

“These institutions have programs that can be grouped together and hopefully benefit young people in particular,” O’Brian added.

Additionally, to satisfy the diversity element, HYM and Our City at Peace have partnered with development groups such as DREAM Collaborative and Onyx Group to include minority-owned businesses in the project. After the project was completed, they also reserved a spot for the King Boston nonprofit, to celebrate the advancement of Dr. Martin Luther King and black people in the city.

A rendering of the Tishman Speyer and Ruggles Progressive Partners plan, which includes a combination of rental units, home ownership and lab space. ARCHITECT RENDERING

The other P3 proposal comes from Tishman Speyer and Ruggles Progressive Partners, whose plan also includes a combination of rental units, home ownership and lab space.

The team, which is a combination of New York-based real estate investment firm Tishman Speyer and a group of Black Boston real estate professionals calling themselves the Ruggles Progressive Partners, proposed three high-rise buildings and a series of townhouses to meet the needs of Roxbury residents.

The 498 rental units included in the project are 100% income restricted, while 15 of the 62 owned units will be income restricted.

To balance the benefits for existing low-income residents in the area, the team also said it plans to set aside $50,000 for a housing fund to support Roxbury homeowners struggling with rising housing costs. tax payments or deferred home maintenance.

“Our team came up with the idea of ​​an anti-displacement fund,” said Ruggles partner Richard Taylor. “And we plan to seed that and fundraise every year to go there…and then set up a community council to respond to applicants.”

Taylor, along with another well-known Black Boston developer on the project, Herby Duverne, went on to tout their coordination with the Franklin Institute to ensure proper job training is available for space-born positions. of allocated laboratory.

Additionally, they said, they have made deals with Roxbury retailers like Frugal Bookstore, Boston While Black and The Collier Connection to include them in the space.

The team also plans to work with the Museum of African American History to create a Roxbury Museum in the former Whittier Street Health Center building, which would be demolished as part of HYM’s plan.

Taylor said all of these elements make Speyer and Ruggles’ proposal the right choice for the space.

‘This is the last largest public property in greater Roxbury,’ he said. “And we responded to overwhelming demands from the community for significant affordable housing, as well as an anti-displacement fund, as well as the participation of a large number of locally based minority-based businesses, and we selected a joint venture partner who has significant experience, financial strength and a prior commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The next step in determining the future of the P3 plot will be the BPDA’s receipt of nominations for members of the Project Review Committee. According to a BPDA spokesperson, the timing is yet to be determined.

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