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Development Without Displacement: Dudley Neighbors Inc. Add 527 Columbia Road Property to Land Trust

June 28th, 2017 by Juan Leyton & Tony Hernandez

We are excited to share some historic news in the movement to promote development without displacement:  Dudley Neighbors Inc. (DNI) community land trust has successfully acquired the Citizens Bank building in Upham's Corner, 572 Columbia Road, and placed it into the land trust.  With support from the City of Boston's Acquisition Opportunity Fund, DNI was for the first time able to compete and purchase a large privately-owned property and place it on the land trust.   The DSNI Board authorized the DNI Community Land Trust to acquire the property and work with the community to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a development plan that meets the neighborhood's vision and a development partner willing to implement that vision in partnership with DNI. Citizens Bank was already planning to move out of the building and will relocate to another site in Upham's Corner, leaving the property empty for future development. 

This move is part of DSNI's expanded anti-displacement strategy in response to the increasing housing costs in the neighborhood and the threat of low- and moderate-income families being forced out of the community they have helped to build.  With the designation of Upham's Corner as a Neighborhood Arts Innovation District and City-sponsored planning around the Strand Theatre, we have the opportunity to create a mixed-use project at the Citizens Bank site that will support and complement efforts to strengthen Upham's role as an affordable, vibrant center for arts, culture, and creative economic development.  Over the next several months, DSNI will be working together with the City of Boston, Upham's Corner Main Streets, and numerous neighborhood associations and community organizations to engage the residents, artists, and merchants in planning the future of this site, as part of a larger effort to implement priorities that have emerged from previous planning processes such as the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative.  We will also build on the partnerships we have developed through the Fairmount Cultural Corridor initiative and engage with our partners at Design Studio for Social Intervention and the Fairmount Innovation Lab/ArtMorpheus to directly engage artists and creative entrepreneurs in this process.  

What do you want to see in Uphams Corner? Ideas so far include new affordable housing, including artist live/work space, studio and rehearsal space, locally-owned businesses, accessible parking, and community space for local organizing. How can we make sure that the development brings resources and benefits back into the community?   How do we ensure that development in Upham's Corner reflects the priorities of residents and preserves the racial, economic and cultural diversity that makes Upham's such a special place to live, work and visit?

This represents a major step forward in DSNI's strategy to seek out opportunities to expand the DNI community land trust as a vehicle to promote community control of land and resources.  To make sure that this development truly benefits our community, we need to hear your ideas. Keep an eye out for community meetings, and contact Tony at thernandez@dsni.org with any questions. Together, let’s embrace this historic opportunity!

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