Since the 1960-70’s, concentrated economic decline and discriminatory politics in Roxbury such as red-lining, and reduction in city services led to Nubian Square being one of the most blighted places in the country. Furthermore, the disruption of public transportation in the 1980’S and overall divestment from land have produced intense socio-economic distress on the predominantly black and immigrant residents. Such material conditions negatively impacted the perception and broader view of the district as impoverished, criminal, ill, and underdeveloped. These attitudes and beliefs caused business and commercial activity to decline, and as a consequence, a cultural and environmental crisis took root.
The Blair Site is one of the last remaining large publicly-owned parcels in Nubian Square. As part of the Main Streets Cluster, the RFP goals for this site (consolidated from previous planning efforts) are to bring vibrant retail, jobs, arts and cultural programs, housing, and open spaces that will reinvigorate the Square. While many DND sites have focused on residential use, we believe the Blair site’s primary responsibility is to bring a variety of economic development opportunities and an integrated indoor and outdoor experience of arts and culture that springs from the history and entrepreneurs in the neighborhood. We seek to make a place that is exciting, multi-generational, and joyful.
In particular, Plan Dudley emphasizes equity – healing the historic and systemic economic disinvestment without having new projects result in displacement or gentrification.
The development and design team for Nubian ASCENDS takes this as its primary goal. We sought out inspiration from area business owners, elected officials, artists, and everyday people to discover and amplify unique treasures of culture and community, and provided spaces for neighbors to benefit from, whether it be simply by enjoying the food, music, art, or movies, being co-creators, or being employees and entrepreneurs.
Our culinary arts, artisan micro-businesses, and potential tech tenants in our office hub are not ‘outsiders’, they will be locals whose talents are currently hidden. The cultural event producers in the multipurpose hall are not ‘outsiders’ – they will be the artists, choreographers, videographers, spoken word, and filmmakers of Roxbury. The artists who exhibit and live in the housing are not ‘outsiders’ – they will be local artists and artisans. Together they will become a new heart of Nubian Square.
Download the full proposed design submission, Nubian ASCENDS explains our approach to each of the Plan Dudley priorities, as well as goals from the Roxbury Cultural Arts District Plan, Imagine Boston, Go Boston, etc. Every section of our Design Submission highlights a quote from Plan Dudley that our proposal addresses.