A restaurant, entertainment center, and jazz club is hoping to transform Dudley Square’s Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building into a vibrant community center and destination for the Roxbury community — and for the Boston area at large.
In Tuesday’s State of the City address, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the JazzUrbane Cafe would take over the building’s 7,800 square foot street-level space, providing both high-end and affordable dining experiences for visitors, along with live music, theater performances, and workshops.
“We’re working to create opportunity in every neighborhood and every community in Boston, and the JazzUrbane Cafe will serve as a place for families and friends to gather for community conversations, civic meetings, entertainment and so much more,” said Mayor Walsh. “I’m proud to have this new venue in the Bolling Building, and continue creating spaces and opportunities for all.”
Behind the project is Bill Banfield, a professor in Berklee College of Music’s Liberal Arts Department and director of Berklee’s Africana Studies discipline, as well as an accomplished musician and composer.
“JazzUrbane Cafe is designed to bring neighbors together and celebrate through the shared love of food, art, and community in a warm and inviting venue,” Banfield said in a press release. “I’m grateful to Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston, and I am excited for the opportunity to create a truly unique experience in Roxbury, to bring back jazz to Dudley Square, and build an establishment that will become a destination for all residents and visitors.”
The building, formerly known as the Ferdinand, completed a $123.9 million renovation in April 2015, but struggled to find restaurants that were interested in leasing the ground-floor space. Both Dudley Dough, a pizzeria from the nonprofit Haley House, and Tasty Burger shuttered within two years of opening. In 2017, the city released a request for proposals inviting restaurants to submit plans; they received three proposals.
“After much consideration and discussion, we believe that Bill Banfield’s vision and JazzUrbane Cafe’s unique dining and entertainment offerings will renew excitement and nightlife in Dudley Square,” said Carlos Castillo, Castillo Wine and Spirits owner and RFP Review Committee community member. “As a small business owner nearby, I look forward to increased visitors and the potential for existing businesses to be exposed to a larger audience and new business opportunities.”
An opening date for the cafe was not announced, and there are no details about the cafe’s menu.