Saturday, June 6, 2015

Historic Boston and the American Cities Coalition Named to Redevelop Historic Comfort Station in Dorchester


Rendering by Utile, Inc. Architecture + Planning

The City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development has tentatively designated the redevelopment of the historicUpham’s Corner Comfort Station in Dorchester to the partnership of Historic Boston Inc. and The American City Coalition.



Historic Boston Inc. (HBI) and The American City Coalition (TACC) are working with Noah Hicks, founder of Dorchester’s Bowdoin Bike School, to repurpose the existing Comfort Station into The Bike Kitchen, a full-service bicycle shop and café, creating a sustainable future for this neglected and important historic structure.

The redevelopment of this building will continue the positive economic development in Upham’s Corner and reflects the objectives of both nonprofit organizations to strengthen the Upham’s Corner business district through their combined expertise in real estate development, historic preservation, and economic development.



This project will both redevelop an important but at-risk historic building demonstrating that HBI's model of preservation-based development can create economic opportunity for entrepreneurs like Noah Hicks; and highlight TACC’s model of facilitating a partnership between developer, tenant, and community so the renovation and use of the building will have a positive catalytic impact on the neighborhood.

The proposal, chosen from among four contenders by the Department for Neighborhood Development, would:
  • Restore the 1922 Comfort Station, empty since 1977, not only preserving it but also maintaining its connection with the history of public transportation at this Dorchester crossroad.
  • Reactivate the building with a new business, The Bike Kitchen, a bike repair shop and café, which will fill a need in the neighborhood and generate new jobs and training opportunities.
  • Broaden the impact in the neighborhood by bringing commerce and physical improvements to the southeastern edge of Columbia Road, also demonstrating the potential for similar improvements and investments along the street.
  • Interpret the adjacent burying ground for visitors and make this 17th century space more publicly accessible.
  • Exemplify solid nonprofit collaboration through a three-way partnership of HBI, TACC, and a local entrepreneur, made possible by the City and supporting an economically sustainable solution including preservation and economic development.
HBI will be the real estate developer and long-term owner of the property. HBI will structure the project’s financing and oversee all phases of design, engineering and construction. The project is expected to require use of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which HBI will seek from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
TACC is a minority partner whose technical assistance to the project includes:
  • Ongoing business support services to the prospective tenant for the redeveloped Comfort Station.
  • Financial support for pre-development costs including architectural and planning project support that includes site design, structural assessment, and cost estimation.
  • Coordinating community outreach and presentation of the project to the Upham’s Corner community.
  • Providing ongoing support for pre-development and fundraising for the capital and operational costs.

Entrepreneur Noah Hicks, owner of Bowdoin Street Bikes, will be the tenant and operate it as a combination full-service bike shop and café and the architect for the development will be Utile, Inc. Architecture + Planning.

Now the real work begins as the team seeks the funds needed from public sources and from private donors and foundations to fill the finance gap to build the project. Stay tuned for further development news. 

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