Rosslindale, MA - March 31, 2014: Residents and visitors will see a transformed Washington Street in Roslindale Village come this time next year.
Although the details are still being finalized, Chris Douglass, the owner of Dorchester’s Ashmont Grill and Tavolo, will likely be opening a restaurant in the enormous Roslindale Substation located at the intersection of Cummins Highway and Washington Street.
"We’re extraordinarily confident he is coming in," said Adam Rogoff, the Roslindale Village Main Street Substation Committee co-chairman, who spoke about the project during RVMS’ annual meeting at St. Nectarios Church last week.
"He’s a very strong community activist in his own right," Rogoff added. "And he’s very sensitive to the needs of the community."
Also on the makeover list is Adams Park, the small oasis of green directly across from the substation.
Kyle Zick, the founder and principal of Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture, presented his redesign concept for the park that will create more space for performances, seating, and community events. Construction on the park is already slated to begin in April of this year.
Next to the substation, a 43-unit, L-shaped housing complex called Parkside on Adams will replace the current F. J. Higgins Funeral Home and extend around the back of the substation. There will be 38 parking spaces built underneath the apartments, Rogoff said.
Substation and Parkside on Adams
Construction on Parkside on Adams will begin in early June of this year, according to Rogoff. Construction on the substation will begin at the same time or shortly thereafter.
"This is super, super, super exciting," said Roslindale resident Nina Pralour about the potential restaurant. "Being a resident ... it would be nice to have (another) place to hangout," she added.
The substation and Parkside on Adams project is being developed through a partnership of RVMS, Historic Boston Inc., and the Peregrine Group, a real estate development firm based out of Rhode Island. Peregrine Group will own both the substation and Parkside on Adams.
The F. J. Higgins Funeral Home next to the substation is also more than 50 years old and has historic status, according to the Boston Landmarks Commission. Peregrine Group and its partners must get approval from the commission before they can tear down the home to make room for Parkside on Adams. They do not anticipate any issues getting that approval, Rogoff said.
The substation was built in 1911 and used to house machinery that powered Boston’s streetcar system. It was shuttered in 1971 and has stood vacant and boarded up ever since.
The substation has a first floor and a ground floor that are 3,800 square feet each. The first floor restaurant will likely have an expansive feel that will take advantage of the extremely high ceilings, though the exact layout hasn’t been finalized yet, Rogoff said.
The ground floor is also 3,800 square feet, though it is only about 10 feet high, according to Beverly Gallo, principal at Peregrine Group. Ideas mentioned for the space during the meeting include a cafe, an entertainment venue, and shared office space.
The developers are aiming to finish construction by the summer of 2015, Rogoff said.
RVMS will be posting updates about the project on its website at http://roslindale.net/substationproject.
Although it has gone through a few versions, the final design for the Adams Park renovation includes a large central lawn, increased bench space, a more pedestrian friendly layout for the walkways going through the park, reduced shrubbery, and a larger performance space, according to a plan of the renovation made by Zick’s firm.
"The central green space … is more flexible," said Zick, adding that there would be more space available for "lounging and hanging out."
The large central lawn will replace the mosaic plaza that is currently in the center of the park. At the bottom of the lawn will be a large concrete area available for performances during the Farmers’ Market and other occasions. The walkways will also be made handicapped accessible, according to Zick.
Construction will finish by early summer. Because time is needed to let the new grass grow in, however, the park will be unusable until the end of summer, Zick said.
"We don’t want to rush this," Zick said. "We don’t want to put in new grass and" have it be ruined soon afterward, he said.
The Farmers’ Market, which is usually held in Adams Park, will be held at the upper level parking lot of the Roslindale Village commuter rail for the duration of construction, according to Christina DiLisio, the executive director of Roslindale Village Main Street.