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Dudley site 'demolition' next step in renewal plan

Banner Staff | 12/18/2008, 4:05 a.m.

Development in Dudley Square received a huge jolt last week as Mayor Thomas M. Menino presided over a ceremonial demolition of a portion of the site that once housed the historic Ferdinand furniture building.

According to city officials, the site will include a new municipal building that will attract an estimated 1,200 workers to the historic square.

“This is a great day for this neighborhood and our city because it brings us closer to our shared vision of a vibrant Dudley Square — one that pays tribute to this community’s rich history and positions it for future success,” Menino said. “The centerpiece of our revitalization efforts will be the creation of Boston’s next great public building.”

The kickoff underscored Menino’s renewed efforts to develop Dudley Square after decades of fits and starts. Most disappointing were the last five years when plans to move a state office there fell apart.

Two years ago, the City of Boston purchased the 33,000 square foot site that included the five-story Ferdinand and the eight-story Guscott buildings, the latter named after Boston developer and previous owner Kenneth Guscott.

The Ferdinand was constructed in 1899, while the Guscott was built in 1922. Both have been vacant for the last 25 years and are sorely in need of major repair. The site also includes a vacant lot, the former site of a four-story building demolished in 1992.

At the event, Menino announced a new design competition for the municipal building. According to a city statement, the competition will seek proposals for a state-of-the-art, high-tech municipal building that meets the highest environmental standards.

“I want to build on the community’s involvement and knowledge and pair it with some of the nation’s best architects and designers,” Menino said in the statement. “We will be looking for national design teams that have a real plan for local community engagement. And we will be expecting innovative yet appropriate designs, so residents and my administration can work together to ensure the best building possible. We will also work with construction teams to help Dudley residents have access to the jobs that this project will create.”

The ceremony also provided more evidence that Menino’s “Dudley Vision Project” is taking shape. The initial focus is the proposed new Area B-2 police station that will be relocated on the former Modern Electroplating site. The current station will be renovated to provide a variety of commercial options for developers.

Further down the road will be renovations to the Dudley Square branch of the Boston Public Library.

“We will be expecting innovative yet appropriate designs, so residents and my administration can work together to ensure the best building possible,” Menino said. “We will also work with construction teams to help Dudley residents have access to the jobs that this project will create.”