Monday, April 9, 2012

My Dudley Square Wish List

For some people, gentrification is colonization.  For others, it is rocketing housing costs and displacement.  But for more than one of my neighbors, including the multi-generational families who have lived here for decades, gentrification means nothing more than walking out of your front door in the morning and not finding trash, cigarette butts, and used needles and condoms. It means not having a drug dealer or prostitute set up shop in the park across from your front door.

And for many more of us who work hard for our money and want to be able to walk out the front door and down the block and spend that cash in the local economy on worthwhile goods and services (of the legal variety), it means quality amenities.

I have a dream.  That dream is about a fair shake for everyone regardless of race, sexual preference, gender, ethnicity, or economic bracket but it also includes a quality restaurant open after 6 p.m. and on the weekends, a fish market where fresh fish outnumber fly swarms, and a clothing store where the owner greets me with something gentler than a snarl and a glare as I enter. My dream Dudley would include many of the below orgs/stores/businesses (in no particular order), and if not them, then independently owned galleries and shops with similar measures of creativity and decent customer service - things which are kinda rare in Dudley Square now.

Big Moe's Ribs
A sit down, eat in restaurant, though, open at night à la Redbones(don't forget the bike valet service) or even Blue Ribbon BBQ (don't forget the customer service).

Dancing in the streets!

A creative co-op training space like Port City Makerspace or Artisan's Asylum. 

Fourth Wall Project

Zipcar is the locally based version of car-sharing but any public car sharing program is needed and will work.

A cobbler!

A good bike shop like Bicycle Bill's or Ferris Wheels
Akimenko Meats

Swiss WatchMaker
I'm not a watch wearer but the customer service here is so outstandingly exemplary (efficient, smart, prompt, gracious) I almost want to become a watch wearer.  They should offer courses in customer service for every business in Dudley Square.  And everywhere else in Massachusetts.  (Meanwhile back in Dudley, the Dudley Square Department Store people are pretty damn good too, as far as service goes.)

Tony's Market
Tony is one of a kind and his storefront business is an essential part of the Rozzie community.  Rozzie Village has a lot of what Dudley could use.

Artists for Humanity
It's something meaningful and with purpose for the kids to do.  Great building, fun parties.

A sporting goods store.  Seriously, Roxbury entrepreneurs, are you kidding?  The Reggie Lewis Center, home to the New Balance Indoor Games and other prestigious national and international track meets, is less than a mile away and there is no sporting goods store in the square?!

Richardson's Ice Cream At the Middleton location, the cows are out back so the whole production is local. On a hot, muggy summer night it gets a little stinky but it's a good wholesome stink and it's importnat for urban kids, too, to see exactly where their ice cream comes from.

American Apparel It's made in America and good enough for London, Paris, Beijing, Rotterdam, Seoul, Tokyo, Barcelona and Milan so it's good enough for Roxbury.

Ward Maps
Though they sell maps online, their bricks and mortar shop is fun.   And what better place for a map store than historic Dudley Square.
A good beer and burger joint like The Counter at the relatively recently newly developed urban village in West Hartford. Or
O'Sullivan's or Four Burgers. Or Flatpatties for a decent, cheap burger without the beer.

Wallpaper City
Really good at what they do (selling paint and wallpaper) and they do it efficiently, knowledgeably, and pleasantly.

All-Star Sandwich
Great sandwiches, great service, free Oreos!

Gather Here and Make Something,
A craftmaker's hang-out paradise. Meta creative.

New and used furniture and housewares.

Wine Cask
Palatable and mostly inexpensive wines by people who really know their wine and realize it's the taste of what's in the bottle, not what you pay for it (or how legless it makes you), that is what wine is all about.  Also wide, wide selection of beers, eau-de-vies and other good stuff.  Finally, tiny selection of nips.

Bloc 11 or Canto 6 or Fornax or (most of all) Sofra
Yum, yum, yum, yum.
We love you, Haley House, but you're not open on Sundays or long enough on Saturdays!

Eddie's  Restaurant has good Dominican food.  Now we could use a decent Ethiopian, Indian, Persian, Thai, Lebanese, or Iraqi restaurant. Hell, one of each.

Polcari's Coffee
Fun and funky coffee, spices, and housewares emporium.

Highland Kitchen where you can sit-down for good food and cocktails after 6 p.m.and on the weekends.

Morse Fish or Courthouse Seafood
Simon's, you want to sell seafood?  Go to Morse or Courthouse first to learn how it's done.

Life Alive vegetarian "urban oasis" and juice bar. This is slooow food, as in: there is always a line and your food takes time to prepare so don't come here if you're in a rush, but Dudley could really use some nutritious, healthy, and tasty vegetarian food.

Boomerangs, Special Edition
J.P., West Roxbury, and now Central Square have Boomerangs.  And I know maybe two on Washington Street might seem greedy but c'mon, Aids Action Committee!  Dudley wants you. Special Edition, Deux.

Brookline Booksmith or Trident Booksellers and Cafe
I know bricks and mortar book stores don't stand a chance these days but I'm dreaming, remember? I'm old school and will love books til they tear them from my cold, rigid fingers. And cafés will never go out of style.

MassArt Made
A second location?

Coolidge Corner Theater or Brattle Theater

Dickson Brothers Hardware or dbslumber
DBS is close but Dudley needs a hardware store.

Sorry, Aga's, but Wally's wouldn't resort to a
"Bikini Bar" sign to attract clientele.  It's about the music, the history, and the
ambiance. Get some of the kids from Berklee who live up the road in Highland Park to do jazz jams and then you won't have to resort to naked women in the doorway.  And you'll make a lot more money.

This list is by no means exhaustive and yes, I will dream on. What's your Dudley dream store?


  1. I agree completely on kind of charge that the word "gentrification" has, positive and negative. I also like your choices on the wish list, especially a cafe open after 4 p.m. (the good folks at the Haley House contend the economics just aren't right yet) and a ribs/beer sit down eatery (oh big ol' empty Dudley Renaissance Center)!

    And I have hope, rooted, I believe, in reality. It will take 8 months or more. It will take more than demolition of the remaining, weakened Ferdinand edifice, but rather the rising of the new steel that will make it's future. That's when you will start to see serious interest.

    My wish list would include some kind of cafe in the old b2 station, with outdoor tables where people could sit a la Havard square.

    1. Great idea about the old B-2 station. Outdoor tables! Yes!

  2. My dream includes the Silver Slipper getting a small facelift outside and maybe being open more hours, but definitely not going away. My dream has a decent local hardware store. It has Hibernian Hall becoming the cultural destination it should be and having a decent restaurant nearby to go to before a show and a decent place to get a drink after. It has the Dudley revitalization stretching up Washington to Bartlett Yards and having some kind of bold new arts complex, business incubator, and housing there a la the JP Brewery complex, not 300 units of subsidized housing. It has the vacant lot behind the Dillaway School brought back to life, if not as a building then at least as useful park or garden space. It has the Post Office closing or downsizing that hideous fortress as part of their move to close 3600 branches and something more human scale and pedestrian friendly replacing it. It has some way to bring life back to Malcolm X Blvd where the combination of high schools, wide streets, and cliffs currently cries out for something better.

    1. Yeah, Roxbury definitely does not need more housing projects. We carry something crazy like 45% of all subsidized housing throughout the city! Back Bay and Beacon Hill could add a higher percentage of subsidized housing to their housing stock, doncha think?

      Maybe those cliffs would make an amazing climbing wall! Instead of driving to NH, local climbers could take the T to Dudley to climb.