Open Birch & A Better City
In December 2018, A Better City, in collaboration with RVMS, local business owners, and the City of Boston’s Public Realm Director released a Request for Qualifications for an Urban Design Proposal to pedestrianize Roslindale’s Birch Street. We are excited to share that we’ll be working with the firm Merritt Chase, whose previous work includes Bow Market in Somerville and Lawn on D (while with the design firm Sasaki Associates).
Local business owners on and around Birch Street in Roslindale Village have the vision to transform the north, short business section of Birch Street into a permanent, fully landscaped, useable, and pedestrianized community space. RVMS is happy to advocate and support this effort alongside the business owners in the district. As a first step in this process, local business owners and RVMS are looking to reclaim incrementally this segment of the street by closing it to vehicular traffic and installing a semi-permanent pedestrian plaza.
RVMS agrees with local business owner Joanne Rossman as she states that, “Birch Street has long been a forgotten street, which only seems to be used for day-long parking. Converting Birch St. to a pedestrian plaza would give an openness to the area, create a wonderful space for spring, summer, and winter events, as well as enhancing Roslindale’s pedestrian access to all the shops on Birch St. and in the Square — and to the beautiful Arnold Arboretum. I can’t wait for this vision to be fulfilled.”
The closure of Birch Street to vehicles is not new to the businesses and residents of Roslindale. In 2018 alone, there were 7 closures of the street to vehicular traffic, including last summer’s ‘Open Birch’ by RVMS to highlight the potential of Birch Street as a pedestrian plaza; the RVMS December Holiday Market; the Roslindale Business Group’s September Fall Festival; and the annual staging of the the Emerald Society’s Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day 5K road race.
“The Holiday Market, Fall Festival, and Open Birch have all shown how Birch St comes alive when it is transformed into a pedestrian area. The creation of this permanent space in the heart of Roslindale gives visitors and residents a place to sit and relax away from traffic, as well as providing a venue for events — just like these — run by RVMS, the City of Boston or local businesses,” says Boston Cheese Cellar owner, Adam Shutes.
We are so excited to be part of this process. RVMS and other stakeholders in the community will be meeting with Merritt Chase for the first time soon, and we’ll keep you up-to-date on the progress of this blossoming proposal of the pedestrianization of Birch Street!