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City looks to sell slew of vacant Blue Hill Avenue parcels

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 29, 2014 12:57 PM

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The city of Boston has close to 66,000 square feet of vacant land along Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury and is looking for buyers.

On Tuesday, officials with the Department of Neighborhood Development, which controls the parcels, were in the neighborhood to discuss with residents and business owners their effort to unload the land.

While Tuesday’s meeting concentrated on 11 vacant sites from Moreland Street to Grove Hall, the overall effort includes 25 sites, which extend all the way down Blue Hill Avenue to Franklin Park.

“These sites have been sitting underutilized for too long, and we thought looking at them collectively would allow us to come up with a comprehensive plan and create some energy around Blue Hill Avenue,” said Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development.

The ultimate goal is to activate the parcels, increase tax revenue, and bring needed development to the community.

Request for Proposals, DND’s method of selling property, are expected to be developed for the sites, But the department said the process is open-ended with no set plan, program, or schedule for the lots.

“This is just the beginning of a dialogue,” explained Donald Wright, deputy director of DND’s Real Estate Management and Sales. “We want to hear from residents about how to move forward.”

Although the meeting was well attended, participants were largely quiet as they let the information sink in.

“I want to know the investment the city is willing to commit,” said Laura Younger, an area resident. “I’d like to see some investment in affordable homeownership and commercial buildings. Some of the spaces could be used for open space and others could hold housing, but we need a comprehensive plan for investment.”

Other questions ranged from who could bid on the parcels, to how the community could make sure bidders have the neighborhood’s best interest in mind.

“We already have at least one developer who is a problem and we don’t want this individual to benefit from this,” said Jorge Martinez, executive director of Project Right.

The parcels, which were obtained by the city through tax foreclosures, range in size from just over 3,000 square feet to nearly 11,000 square feet. The majority are in zoning districts that allow for two family residential construction as well as local services/commercial space.

Although DND officials said they have not developed a formal vision for the space, they did say that they will be utilizing input gathered from residents and past initiatives like the Blue Hill Avenue Task Force, to begin the process of developing a plan for the spaces.

Tuesday’s meeting was just the first in what city officials believe will be a lengthy process to bring movement to the area, which as of late has seen a surge in public investment, especially around Quincy Street, something residents thought could help add energy to DND’s efforts.

“With all the development going on in the area people will start to see that and want to come to the table and invest here,” said Martinez.

DND officials will now begin the process of developing a formal dialogue around the spaces. A follow up meeting is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Below is a list of the properties discussed at Tuesday’s meeting:

63 and 65 Blue Hill Ave. - 2,442 square feet
190-190A and 192 Blue Hill Ave. - 6,047 square feet
230-231A Blue Hill Ave. - 3,613 square feet
235-239 Blue Hill Ave. - 5,779 square feet
238 Blue Hill Ave. - 2,750 square feet
281A-299 Blue Hill Ave - 11,504 square feet
309-309B Blue Hill Ave. - 3,432 square feet
328-328A and 330-334 Blue Hill Ave. - 11,373 square feet
353-359 Blue Hill Ave. - 3,886 square feet
376-384 Blue Hill Ave. - 11,475 square feet
391-393 and 395 Blue Hill Ave. - 3,362 square feet

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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