“An outcome from the community engagement process that became immediately clear was the need to acknowledge the significant disparities that exist between the Roxbury community and the greater City of Boston. …Many of the critical components …include: housing, economic development, job training, education and employment, cultural identity, neighborhood amenities, transportation, open space, and climate resiliency.”


    “By 1901, an elevated rail terminal connected Dudley Square to downtown Boston. Hotels, department stores, theaters, and banks flocked to the area, anchored by the Ferdinand Building, once the largest furniture retailer in New England. By the 1920s, Bostonians referred to the neighborhood as “the other downtown”. Since early in the neighborhood’s history, Dudley Square operated as Roxbury’s commercial center.”


    “…upon entering Dudley Square, the impact of new development seems to diminish and large publicly-owned parcels of land sit vacant. Dudley Square seemingly sits in defiance of the dual contexts that it is situated in – the well-established surrounding neighborhood of Roxbury and the booming economy of the city as a whole.”


    “PLAN: Dudley Square initiative (is) to “actively promote a sustainable and diverse economy focused on job opportunities and the creation of wealth.”


    “Workshop attendees communicated an eagerness to see mixed-use public spaces
    that fostered interaction and encouraged an 18-hour-day filled with activity. To
    facilitate a pedestrian-friendly environment, community members suggested that
    future projects incorporate public realm improvements including landscaping, street
    trees, benches, lighting, wide sidewalks, and signage.”

Our Story



    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.


    Over time, Boston city government responses to the persistent crisis have centered around government-dependent Community Development Corporations and public housing development, but drastically overlooked the needs of direct action by and for residents to create sustainable economic stimulus or support cultural revival. In 2017, two long-time Roxbury residents and community activists, Christopher and Kai Grant invested retirement capital into a blighted commercial storefront and opened Black Market as an arts and entrepreneurship “launch pad” to provide a centralized forum for cultural enrichment and commercial activity on Washington street. By opening doors to micro-businesses, artisans, artists, social activists, and community organizers from Roxbury, Black Market sought to advance the effort of taking a cultural-specific response to the socioeconomic conditions that plague residents and businesses in the district.





    From 2017-2020, Black Market has enabled hundreds of micro-entrepreneurs and cultural producers to sell and trade their artisanry products. They have held teach-ins and outreach programs for youth, women, and afro-indigenous communities from around the world. Their formula draws upon cultural awareness, inclusive community, and a practical approach to developing new economic opportunities. This offers evidence that the Black Market model has and continues to challenge and redefine long-held deterministic attitudes about the district, and serviceable to strong relationships with city officials and everyday folks. This approach prioritizes arts production and commercialization; records social and political community discussions and embraces new digital media technology. That is, Black Market successes fully operate from a position to scale and sustain this momentum into a wider movement that benefits the people of Boston


    Although Black Market has filled a vital gap in the cultural and commercial life of the designated arts district, a long history of disenfranchisement in the predominantly black and immigrant community is saturated by persistent structural decay. The wealth gap in Boston; empty and abandoned buildings; opioid crisis, divestment, and gentrification. Black Market continues to gather popular support and enroll key stakeholders. In 2019, they launched a series called “Dudley in Crisis” to workshop with local residents a collective strategy that would support the ongoing work. This amplified ongoing efforts by elder community leaders to join in the collective district rebranding of Dudley square to Nubian square—an afro-centric collective identity. The name change was an important first step in establishing cultural precedent from historical and social visibility, and a sense of self-preservation. But Now What?





    Nubian Ascends is the next chapter of the cultural movement. Taking lessons learned with direct community engagement, commercial prospecting, architectural design, and the healing power of art, this well-informed project aims to permanently transform the empty Blair lot.


Proposed Design

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.

“This (Main Streets) cluster lies at the heart of the Dudley Square Main Streets District. A combination of…residential, retail and cultural uses has the potential to complement the Bolling Building and provide a vibrancy to the Dudley Square retail experience. Development of this cluster therefore needs to be both a cultural and entertainment destination” 

Our project seeks to bring the commercial and cultural heart back to Nubian Square and make Washington Street a thriving Main Street again. We believe that Nubian Square needs to have a substantial amount of business and culture to create a magnet where pedestrians come to shop, work, and play. We are providing many different types of uses and spaces where the community can flourish and evolve, celebrating the existing culture that is the soul of this area.


Sign Our Petition

Sign the Petition!

To whom it may concern:

We are excited to support the NUBIAN ASCENDS development proposal and vision that your team has created for the Blair’s Lot in Nubian Square. Art, Culture, Music, Entertainment and Economics, paired with office and much needed artist live/ work space- all with parking- will certainly bring new purchasing power to the district. We look forward to the possibility of bringing creative business energy to Nubian Square.

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Community Investment

The Nubian Ascends Project is a transformative development that we believe will support and enhance community based businesses and institution that are currently in Nubian Square and those that are seeking to locate in an emerging cultural and business environment. The components of the project include a Cultural Hall, Artist live work residences, exhibit space, entrepreneurial spaces for food and beverage firms, apparel and other minority businesses. The project is anchored by a Culinary School, significant office space and a 300 plus garage for consumers, employers and entertainments patrons. Our proposal was recently submitted to the City of Boston in response to a Request for Proposals for the two acres of public land that is behind and adjacent to the Black Market building and the Nubian Gallery. This site is known as the Blair’s Lot. One other project was submitted for the site as well. The project has a significant number of community benefits including the Community Equity Fund.

The project sponsors, Black Market founders Chris and Kai Grant and Richard Taylor of Nubian Square Development, LLC. and the Nubian Gallery have sought to create investment opportunities in the project for people of color that live in the Greater Roxbury market and beyond. The estimated project costs is $80 million dollars and we will be raising Equity to support the project.

It is anticipated that the Community Equity Fund will offer at least two investment opportunities. The first would be for “ qualified investors “ as defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission and this vehicle will be at the unit costs of $25,000. In addition for those that do not qualify at that level we expect to offer financial participation at the level of $1,000 and $5,000. We are currently competing for the site against one other submission. Until the competition is complete and our costs are finalized we are not in a position to discuss Investment Terms. But we are compiling a list of those potential investors that would be interested in participating.

The Nubian Ascends project Architecture Drawings can be seen at Black Market or the Nubian Gallery . We thank you for your inquiry and we are happy to take your name and contact information for investment follow up.


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