Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Touring the Old and the New in Roslindale Village

RoslindaleVillage Main Streets hosted HBI Board and Staff for a behind the scenes tour of the 1911 RoslindaleSubstation and an evening stroll around the village on July 26th.  Both organizations were designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to identify a feasible re-use of the historic substation and are moving forward with plans to convert the building into a function hall and year-round farmers market on the upper floor and a restaurant/lounge on the lower floor.

It’s easy to underestimate an empty historic building from the exterior, so our group was struck by the soaring 3-story interior.  Once a space that held large transformers for electrical services to the streetcar network of Boston, the building has been closed and boarded up since 1971. The HBI-Roslindale Village Main Street team believes any development of this building should have publicly accessible uses so that this stunning interior can be experienced by many more people in a burgeoning Roslindale Village.

If there was any question about a viable market that can support new cultural or business uses in the Roslindale substation, they were put to rest by the palpable vibrancy of Roslindale Village.  High quality shops and restaurants have made this neighborhood a destination for shopping and dining.  That was obvious as we visited many locally owned shops for gourmet cheese, wine, and handmade gifts.  But, as we learned, Roslindale is a lot more.  The district supports a good size grocery store, the region’s largest independent pharmacy and a busy paint and hardware store.  A brand new 3-story office and retail building has recently been built.  Roslindale Village also has a busy commuter rail stop, a constant flow of buses, and plenty of parking around the square for visitors and commuters. 

After touring the Substation and the business district, we retreated to Napper Tandy’s for good food, drink, and conversations about the historic Roslindale we want to restore, and the contemporary Roslindale that’s perfectly ready to experience it.

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