By Matt Robare
Posted Jan. 28, 2014 @ 11:39 am
Twelve years of planning, public meetings and permitting work came to an end Monday morning when the Boston Parks Commission unanimously approved the Roslindale Substation project, which is across Washington Street from Adams Park in the heart of Roslindale.
A joint venture between Roslindale Village Main Streets, Historic Boston Inc. and a development company called Peregrine Group, the substation project includes two parts: the rehabilitation of the substation itself into a space for a restaurant and the construction of a 43 unit apartment building on an adjacent lot currently occupied by the Higgins Funeral Home. Six of the units will be affordable. The substation was originally built to house transformers to turn AC power into DC for streetcars and has been vacant since 1971. It’s owned by the City of Boston, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places and the exterior is not very friendly: the massive, arched windows have been bricked up and there are some murals on it.
“This place was a museum to the Industrial Age,” said Steve Gag, the president of Roslindale Village Main Streets.
Main Streets will work with Historic Boston to restore the exterior – replacing the windows and refurbishing the huge bronze doors. Jeffrey Morgan, HBI’s director of real estate development, said restoration work still needed to be funded, but he was hopeful it could be done out of money made from renting out apartments and the restaurant space, although he said some Roslindale residents have expressed an interest in crowdfunding. Gag said they don’t have a tenant lined up for the restaurant yet, but were exploring options. One goal, Gag said, is to avoid a chain outlet.
“We’re all looking forward to eating there,” said Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollack.
“It sounds like a model of how urban development can be done,” said associate commissioner Charles Titus.