In Roxbury, a chance to build on Massport’s inclusive development model
At the Roxbury site, two teams – HYM Investment Group/My City at Peace and Tishman Speyer/Ruggles Progressive Partners – recently submitted bids to develop the long-dormant site along Tremont Street. Each proposes to spend more than a billion dollars to build a mixture of laboratories, housing and civic spaces. It’s more than double the cost of the Omni hotel.
The so-called Massport model ― which makes diversity a major factor in determining development rights on agency assets ― created wealth and opportunity for people of color, many of whom used the experience to win other contracts. Since 2018, the Boston Planning & Development Agency has followed Massport’s lead for projects on 16 city-owned lots. But with P3, Boston has a chance to take the model one step further and show that such inclusiveness in building projects can help transform low-income neighborhoods by creating wealth and opportunity for residents. and not just for the managers of a few companies.
What the two P3 teams are offering is extraordinary. Beyond bringing lab space to Roxbury, they plan to form partnerships with Roxbury Community College, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, and nearby Madison Park High School to train students for science jobs. of life. Both teams are also planning a significant amount of affordable housing that can be purchased, as well as rental housing.
“It’s something we’ve been pushing,” said Norm Stembridge, co-chair of Roxbury’s Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee. “People saw this as an opportunity to move the community forward.”
Like some other major projects in Boston, this one has a public space component. But unlike most, plans for PPPs feel like they’ve been carefully thought out, so they accomplish more than just meet a requirement. The HYM/My City at Peace team wishes to host King Boston, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the formative time that Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King spent in Boston. The Embrace Center, as they call it, would include a museum, reception space and home for King Boston’s economic justice research and political work.
Tishman/Ruggles partners with the Museum of African American History to create a Roxbury Museum. The team also offers to reserve spaces for pop-up shops, as well as music and play areas for families.
The city has been trying to develop P3s for more than two decades, with many false starts over the years. Everything from a BJ’s Wholesale Club to a football stadium for the New England Revolution to a transportation headquarters was considered.
At one point, the BPDA granted development rights to Feldco Development, but withdrew them in 2019 after the company struggled to secure funding. Meanwhile, the neighborhood had become increasingly unhappy with the various proposals which has come over the years. They wanted a project that could produce a virtuous economic cycle, that creates well-paying jobs and careers, and puts people on the path to home ownership and generational wealth.
The BPDA will hold a series of community meetings in the coming months to review the offers. A decision could fall in the fall.
The PPP process also shed light on how development in Boston doesn’t have to be so white.
A who’s who from the black business community lined up to participate. Some have been working on real estate projects for years (Richard Taylor, Kevin Bynoe, JocCole “JC” Burton, Greg Minott, Herby Duverné, Darryl Settles, Kai Grant), while others are relatively new to the game (Reverend Jeffrey Brown, Manikka Bowman, Chanda Smart, Ricardo Pierre-Louis, Sheena Collier).
For many, this represents a watershed moment for their business.
Minott, managing director of Boston architectural firm DREAM Collaborative, said he’s worked on many major projects as a subcontractor, but this is the first time his firm will take over the design lead of the master plan.
A member of the HYM/My City At Peace team, Minott said if the offer is successful, his company would double in size by adding two dozen jobs. That’s great, but why did it take a 14-year-old company so long to lead a major project?
“It’s always been a mystery to us,” Minott said. “We have the expertise and a talented team. We are equally qualified and in some cases more qualified. Why not? We weren’t asked to do that.
It is equally important to ensure that such opportunities do not always benefit the same people of color. This means that the diversified pipeline can grow.
Bowman launched his development company, HarveyReed, in 2021, but Tishman chief executive Jessica Hughes became familiar with Bowman when she was an executive at the Urban Land Institute.
“She knew I was competent and I was able to roll up my sleeves,” Bowman said. “She knew the value of investing in a woman and a black woman starting a development business.”
Bowman’s role is to oversee a fund that tackles displacement, which is one of the biggest concerns in the community, as new developments typically drive up property values and evict long-time residents. Tishman/Ruggles is proposing to endow the fund with $250,000 and grow it to $1 million to help low-to-moderate income Roxbury homeowners stay in their homes by offsetting tax increases and paying for maintenance .
For Ricardo Pierre-Louis, P3 represents a chance to realize a dream: owning a parking garage. As a college student, he worked as a weekend valet, then started his own business, Privé Parking. He met Tom O’Brien, managing partner of HYM, a few years ago with the aim of getting into development.
The HYM/My City At Peace offer contains two garages with a total of 500 spaces. Private would manage them and hold an interest in both properties.
“When you own something, you are now in a different position,” Pierre-Louis said.
For another member of the HYM/My City at Peace team, working on P3 is a kind of homecoming. Smart, managing director of OnyxGroup Development & Brokerage, spent part of her childhood a few blocks from the site. Her great-grandmother lived in public housing Roxse Homes on Tremont Street.
“It’s extremely exciting for us. . . how many people can say that i grew up across the street and played a part in that development? Smart said.
Her great-grandmother died nearly three decades ago. But if Smart is part of the winning P3 bid, she knows what she would have said: “I knew you could do it.”
Shirley Leung is a business columnist. She can be contacted at [email protected]