Success Stories

Dudley Square and the Ferdinand Building

Targeted municipal investment and a vibrant mix of old and new businesses breathe new life into a historic neighborhood center.

Long before Dudley Square and the surrounding Roxbury neighborhood became known as Boston’s bustling “other downtown”, they were home to small farming settlements. As farmland gave way to spreading streetcar suburbs in the late 1800s, this area saw the development of housing, commercial corridors, and an elevated rail terminal. Dudley Square was the heart of it all, and is still the geographic heart (center point) of Boston. In the early twentieth century, the Square held a lively collection of retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, a bowling alley, and the Ferdinand Building—home of New England’s largest furniture retailer. The neighborhood was home to a diverse group of European immigrants and a vibrant African American community.

Then in the 1960s and 1970s Dudley Square, like many urban neighborhoods around the country, lost population and businesses to the suburbs. Its train station was removed in 1987, and the neighborhood fell into a challenging period of disinvestment.

In the last few decades, however, the Dudley Square community, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and the BRA have worked together to solidify a new vision for the neighborhood. A major component of the effort includes using targeted public and private investments to anchor the Square, inspire confidence, and attract private investment. Revitalization efforts have included:

  • major public investments including the LEED Silver Certified District B-2 Police Station and the restoration of the historic Ferdinand Building, which will consolidate and house the Boston Public Schools Administration offices,
  • supporting existing and businesses through technical assistance, façade improvement funds, and programs like Dudley Square Main Streets,
  • renovation of the Dudley Branch Library plaza and entrance, and
  • street and sidewalk enhancements throughout the Dudley Square area.

As the City continues to invest in the area, private investors have followed. A 323-unit, mixed-use development is planned for a former MBTA bus yard outside of Dudley Square. A 145-key boutique hotel and 50 residential units are in the pipeline at Melnea Cass Boulevard.   Across Melnea Cass from the hotel will be a new incarnation of Tropical Foods Market, with over 40,000 square feet of new retail and office and 30 residential units.  Closer to Northeastern University at Parcel 3 are plans for a $320 million, mixed-use facility with over 400,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office and 300 units of mixed-income residential.  Dudley Square’s revitalization is a dynamic and ongoing initiative, and we invite you to check back in frequently at Roxbury’s neighborhood page to see the latest projects and news.
 

Highlights and Achievements

  • 18,000 square feet of new retail space and 160,000 square feet of adaptable office space in the renovated Ferdinand Building.
  • 528 new customers for local businesses via Boston Public School Administration workers (and visitors to the facility).
  • Three opportunities for indoor and outdoor public art pieces, including one at Dudley Station Plaza, one in the main lobby of the Ferdinand Building, and one in the School committee room of the Ferdinand Building.
  • Street and sidewalk enhancements to improve bus operations, vehicle traffic, and pedestrian safety.
  • The addition of iconic and inspirational design to the area by engaging leading firms such as Sasaki and Mecanoo on municipal projects.

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