DORCHESTER, MASS. - New townhouses line both sides of Dudley Street, just a block away from the Uphams Corner commuter rail station here. The sidewalks are busy with families and senior citizens stepping around construction workers and equipment.
The affordable apartments at Dudley Village fill a gaping hole in their neighborhood, replacing a string of vacant cityowned lots and the notorious Fundonzinho Lounge, site of at least four murders and uncounted shootings.
“Dudley Village will be a new center for the community,” said Jeanne DuBois, executive director of the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corp. (DBEDC).
The much-needed affordable housing also will provide services to the whole neighborhood, ranging from job and technology education to youth activities and seniors meal services.
When the 6,000 square feet of retail space and the last of the 50 low-income family apartments at Dudley Village are finished in October, five units will be reserved for ex-offenders returning to the neighborhood from prison through the Boston Re-Entry Initiative.
DBEDC, which has developed more than 1,000 units of housing and 150,000 square feet of retail space in and around Uphams Corner since 1979, also sets aside 10 percent of all the housing it develops for homeless families.
DBEDC holds monthly meetings with police, local business leaders, and residents. Special meetings are called when residents ask for increased police patrols for particular street corners or lots.
DBEDC’s youth leadership program also trains young people to communicate with officials to win better city services for the neighborhood.
Uphams Corner, a largely minority neighborhood where a quarter of the residents live in poverty, needs attention from police because the neighborhood has more youths than any other part of the city, said DuBois.
However, the vocal neighborhood that DBEDC encourages can also slow down development. Because the city requires developers who work with city-owned land to get approval from neighborhood groups, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a local planning group, had effective veto power over Dudley Village.
The community review process took two-and-a-half years. The initiative also will own the land under Dudley Village, leasing it to the developer and guaranteeing that Dudley Village will remain affordable in perpetuity.
DBEDC paid Dudley Village’s $19 million development cost with sources including $4.4 million in equity from the sale of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) to MMA Financial, and $4 million from the sale of LIHTCs and New Markets Tax Credits to the for-profit Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp. The development also received $3.3 million in city and state HOME funds; $1.1 million in state Affordable Housing Trust Fund loans; and a $1.9 loan from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.
In addition to other loans and grants, Dudley Village received $2.6 million in Transit Oriented Development loans from MassHousing to encourage development along the “Smart Growth Corridor” of an expanded Fairmount commuter rail line.
The four-story brick buildings will also do their part to help reduce global warming. The federal Energy Star-rated property is designed to use 30 percent less energy than conventional construction and includes a waste-water recycling system to irrigate its gardens.