(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
A building that has sat vacant for more than 30 years in the heart of Dudley Square is one step closer to being revitalized after it was "topped off" Monday afternoon.
At a ceremony packed with construction crews, city officials, area residents, and politicians, the final steel beam for the Dudley Municipal Center was raised to the top of the new 215,000-square-foot building, adorned with the signatures of supporters.
“It really is a new day for Dudley,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino told the crowd. “This community is on the rise and has a bright future.”
The new six-story structure, which broke ground in March of 2012, incorporates the original façade of the historic Ferdinand Furniture Building and once completed in January 2015, will be the new home of Boston Public Schools. In addition to the use by the city, the ground-floor of the new structure will be used for street-level retail.
“This is like a dream come true,” said Loretta Bell-Lewis, a 57-year-old Roxbury resident. “As long as I can remember this building has been vacant and an eyesore.”
Expected to be certified LEED Silver, the $115-million project is being led by Shawmut Construction and was hailed by many in attendance as just another sign of Roxbury’s continued revitalization.
“This is really one of the last pieces for the area,” said Joyce Stanley, the executive director of Dudley Square Main Street, a city supported business development nonprofit.
Stanley, like others, not only highlighted the Dudley Municipal Center project, but other developments in the neighborhood like Nuestra Comunidad’s Bartlett Yard development and the construction of the new Tropical Foods building, as signs of an up-an-coming neighborhood.
“This is only the beginning,” said Representative Gloria Fox. “We’re restoring Roxbury and bringing it back to what it was.”
For many the day signified a permanent commitment by the city to a community that at times has been overlooked.
“It’s been a long-time coming for this community,” said Valerie Shelley, a 65-year-old Roxbury resident. “It’s going to be a big boost for the community and for jobs.”
Many touched on the jobs issue Monday, complimenting city officials on their efforts to make sure Boston residents, women, and minorities are on the job site.
Concerns had been raised in the past by groups about better representation on the project.
Currently of the more than 66,000 hours worth of work on the project 43 percent has been completed by Boston residents, 60 percent by minorities, and nine percent by women, according to figures provided by Shawmut Construction.
Although the project is currently missing the 50 percent Boston resident mark, it is exceeding its 25 percent minority mark and is just below the 10 percent mark for women on the job.
“On this job and other jobs we make sure the neighborhood goes to work, which is so important,” Menino said. “Dudley is going to be the place to be, but it’s only going to happen if we work together.”
For a look inside the building, click here.