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April 10, 2019 | 1 Comment
Boston, MA (April 10, 2019) — Time-honored nonprofit USES announced today that it has selected a preferred buyer for its property at 566 Columbus Avenue — New Boston Ventures, based in the South End. This transaction will help USES preserve and grow its 127-year legacy of serving children and families in need. The funds from the sale of 566 Columbus Avenue will allow USES to build a new Harriet Tubman House at its 48 Rutland Street location in the South End, creating a more modern and family-friendly space for the delivery of services and community gatherings. This improved facility will be a wonderful home to the 21st century legacy of Harriet Tubman. Rutland Street will be the fourth location for the Harriet Tubman House, which first opened in 1904 at 37 Holyoke Street. USES’s Rutland Street has been home to numerous social services dating back to the 1850s and is nestled close to many housing developments including Villa Victoria, Ruth Barkley, Historic South End Apartments, Lenox, and Camden.
“Helping our children and families enhance their quality of life through quality accessible childcare and skill-based programming that help families create financial stability continues to be our focus. Through the sale of 566 Columbus Avenue we are securing that opportunity for families living in Boston for the next 100 years,” said USES President Maicharia Weir Lytle.
This sale is a next step in a robust strategic planning process launched in 2016 to address persistent and significant financial costs for maintaining USES’s aging facilities and disconnected programs. The eighteen-month strategic planning process included four community meetings, conversations with over 100 stakeholders, press appearances and social media engagement to inform the public. The selection of this preferred buyer is one more step in that public process. The November 2018 request for proposals for 566 Columbus Avenue, which led to the selection of New Boston Ventures as a preferred buyer, expressed many principles celebrated by USES including mixed use housing, minority investment and the preservation of the aging facility’s artistic treasures.
New Boston Ventures’ proposal highlights investment opportunities for people of color, a mix of housing that exceeds the city minimum for affordable housing, preservation and/or relocation of the beloved mural currently on the building’s façade, community space for USES and a street-level social enterprise café as a building co-tenant. New Boston Ventures is committed to having community input and will form a neighborhood advisory committee of residents, business owners and other community stakeholders that will seek continued community involvement. As this process unfolds, both USES and New Boston Ventures are dedicated to inviting the community to provide input.
“After a thorough review of more than nine responses to our RFP, our real estate committee of board members, community members and industry experts recommended New Boston Ventures based on many qualifying factors, notably, their experience building mixed-income residential developments and their well-earned reputation for contributing to the communities in which they build. Their proposal demonstrates a high-level understanding of the community and the diversity within the South End. As a result, the Board of Directors voted to enter into this next phase,” said USES Board Chair Julia Johannsen.
As a South End business, New Boston Ventures knows the neighborhood firsthand, and has a history of giving back financially to local organizations, including Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), Castle Square Tenants Organization and Tent City.
“Our projects are successful because we work hard to ensure the neighborhoods know we understand they have a stake in them. The end result must positively impact the environment and the people in the community,” said New Boston Ventures Principal and 30-year South End resident David Goldman. “We reach out to the community and make sure they play a key role in shaping the development so that the final product reflects the fabric of the neighborhood.”
In addition to New Boston Ventures’ principals Goldman and Dennis Kanin, the South End based development team includes President of the Minority Developers Association Richard Taylor, President of the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association Beverley Johnson, former head of the Boston Elections Commission Jovita Fontanez, architects Jonathan Garland of J. Garland Enterprises and Nancy Ludwig of Icon Architecture and the South End real estate firm Sprogis & Neale.
“Knowing USES for as long as I have, I can appreciate the difficult decisions that they’ve had to make to secure the future of the organization. I also understand the many different feelings around this sale; however, USES remaining in the South End and continuing its legacy in service to children and families is critical,” said Fontanez.
“We’re very glad to have identified a potential buyer who not only meets our financial needs but whose vision aligns with ours, who will honor the 566 location and its history in the community. We’re moving closer to our vision for USES to remain a vibrant resource and partner for families and the South End community,” said Weir Lytle. “We’re at an exciting, vital stage in this process and will continue to keep the community updated as we move forward.”
During this due diligence phase, some information remains confidential. For more information about USES’s strategic planning and real estate process, please visit www.uses.org/vision125.
About United South End Settlements
United South End Settlements (USES) offers programs that holistically support families in achieving economic mobility. We help parents and caregivers develop their own capacity to reach their goals, increase their income and assets and connect with new networks of people through one-on-one coaching and a workforce development program, which prepares participants for administrative work as a first step on a career pathway. For children and youth, we provide quality education and enrichment opportunities that foster personal development and social-emotional skills such as perseverance, communication, teamwork and problem-solving. Each summer, USES’s Camp Hale serves over 225 boys and girls, ages 6-17 years, with the goal of improving their sense of well-being, social skills and awareness of personal potential. We believe that as families increase their income and assets, become more resilient and connect to a diverse network, they and their children are more likely to develop the necessary skills to disrupt the cycle of poverty. For more information about USES, please visit www.uses.org.
Emma MacDonald Carole McFall