Creating an Arts & Innovation District in Upham's Corner

Over the last 2 years, we have been part of a unique community development partnership with the City of Boston to implement the Upham’s Corner Arts & Innovation District. Leaders from DSNI, City of Boston, and neighborhood partners such as Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI) and Upham’s Corner Main Street organized an event in March to celebrate the upcoming release of the Request For Proposals (RFP) of several important properties along Columbia Road in the Upham’s Corner area of Dorchester and to let community residents know how they could be involved in the process going forward.

One of our priorities in this process is to ensure that the people who live in Upham’s Corner benefit from generations of hard work while also welcoming new residents and patrons to participate in a renewed Arts and Innovation District. The Arts and Innovation District will be anchored by a revitalized century-year old Strand Theatre and a brand new, state-of-the-art branch of the Boston Public Library, along with other cultural and performance spaces.

The vision of the RFPs includes a focus on economic development that is anchored by cultural uses that can occupy new or renovated spaces and are enhanced and expanded to provide local residents, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and artists with the housing, venues, public amenities, and resources needed to collaborate and thrive.

The RFPs solicit proposals from development teams to create several public and community-owned properties in Upham’s to deliver:
● Affordable housing
● Affordable commercial space
● A 15,000 square foot Boston Public Library branch that includes additional arts space
● A revitalized Strand Theatre with a long-term operating partner

One of the properties that will be developed is the Dudley Neighbors Inc. Community Building (DNICB) (former Citizens Bank building at 572 Columbia Road in Upham's Corner).  With support from Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston, Dudley Neighbors Inc. (DNI) purchased the property and placed it on our community land trust. The community will retain control of the land through the community land trust after development is complete. We have been coordinating with the City of Boston to ensure that DNICB development complements plans that have emerged through the larger Upham’s Corner implementation process. The decision to release a joint RFP that includes the city-owned and DNI-owned properties reflects the neighborhood's priorities and lays the groundwork for synergy between the developments. 

Denise Barros, our Interim Executive Director, shares: “the development of these RFPs has been built on the tremendous work of residents and organizations over the past decade. This ground-breaking collaboration not only pushes development without displacement in Upham's Corner but is also a model of community-driven development for the rest of the city.”

Stay tuned for the pending release of the RFP.