(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
Prospective tenants gathered in Dudley Square Tuesday afternoon, to find out more about the six ground floor commercial spaces in the soon to be completed Dudley Square Municipal Center.
The $120 million city-led development in the heart of Roxbury, will be the new headquarters of Boston Public Schools, in addition to boasting more than 18,000 square-feet of street level commercial space for retail shops, restaurants, and other services.
In December, the city of Boston, which owns the building, issued a call for tenants. Because the space is owned by the city, potential tenants must complete a Request for Proposal application outlining their business plan. Completed RFPs are due back February 10.
A selection committee, made up of city officials and community stakeholders, will then review the proposals and select the tenants.
The five-member selection committee, however, won’t just be choosing proposals at random, but those that best conform to guidelines developed for the RFP. Although every proposal will be reviewed, those that meet the criteria, such as full-service restaurants, retail shops, and other service providers, will most likely be chosen.
“[The Dudley Municipal Center] is a gateway in many ways,” said Jeremy Grossman, a retail consultant working with the city. “It’s important that the mix of businesses reflects the needs and wants of the community.”
On Tuesday possible tenants were able to tour the building, speak with city officials, and find out a little bit more about what it will take to open a business in the heart of Dudley Square.
“There are no eye clinics in this neighborhood and I think this community deserves something like that,” explained Dr. Lesa Dennis-Mahamed, who said she’d like to open an optometrist’s office. “I want to be in the building because of its mystique and history.”
Gary Webster, the co-owner of Down Home Delivery, had concerns about if there would be an anchor tenant, but said the new construction is an exciting opportunity.
“Dudley Square represents a long-line of people that have done business down here,” said Webster. “It’s [the new building] going to be the cornerstone of the community and will make a big impact.”
Like Webster, Karenlyn Bunch, wants to get in on the resurgence that is happening in the community.
“Dudley Square is the new Harlem,” said Bunch, who wants to open a restaurant specializing in healthy food. “There’s really no place in the area to get healthy food and the community needs that.”
Restaurateurs from outside the immediate neighborhood were also in attendance.
“We’ve been looking at Dudley Square for a long time; it’s a strong neighborhood and we’re a neighborhood restaurant,” said David Dubois of Tasty Burger and Franklin Cafe. “Dudley Square really does have it all, we’ve tried to come down in the past, but the opportunity wasn’t always there, now it is.”
Tenant leases are expected to be signed by March 31, with the building slated to be completed by February 2015.
Once the home of the Ferdinand Furniture store, the new building will boast an estimated 216,000 square-feet of mixed-use commercial space, as well as the potential for outside patio seating.
For a copy of the RFP, click here.