Any day now (maybe any second) the Mayor should be making an announcement, as promised, about the development of the Ferdinand's building in Dudley Square.
The geographical and historical heart of the city, Dudley has languished in recent decades as the result of bank organized discrimination and neglect. The development of Ferdinand's is only one of several new projects crucial to the resurgence of Dudley as, not just a place to live and work in or near, as but a place to deliberately visit. What?! Visit Dudley, the outsiders gasp! Yup.
A rich national historical legacy is already here. We need the shops, restaurants, and more of the supper clubs and arts events that are also a part of the most alluring, vibrant destinations.
Yet, because we have gone for so long without services and amenities nearby, many local people are willing to settle for less. Why, they ask, can't we have a "insert bloated vapid corporate chain here"? Why, I respond, would you want that? Give me Union Square or Rozzie village, with their small, independently-owned, exceptional businesses not a stale, indistinguishable Copley Place or Galleria Mall.
How do we build Dudley and keep it unique and kinda gritty/cool but also make it cutting-edge and an exemplar of urban development? Two quick suggestions with more to follow later.
Take a hike. Remove the emphasis from cars as the primary means of getting around. As the center of a major transportation hub, Dudley is soo easily accessible by bus, easily walkable from the South End, Mission Hill, the Fenway and Jamaica Plain and very easily bikeable from further afield you don't need a car to get to it. There is a name for those places where you can drive your car to each errand and park it by the door: the suburbs. Dudley is not the suburbs. Besides, walking, biking and taking the bus is better for us and better for the environment.
Cut the chains. Develop and nurture small locally owned businesses. The big chains put their money where their corporate offices are. A locally owned business keeps money in the community, in part, because its corporate office is in the community. Maybe DSNI could help? Chain stores do not give back to the local economy the way local business does but even worse - they're deadly boring.
Easy to write, hard to do? Dudley has endured the hardest parts already. Transforming the area back into a vital, sustainable economic and cultural center is worth thoughtful, careful deliberation. Let's do it right, Dudley.