Developers present Tremont Crossing plans

Sandra Larson | 5/24/2012, 8:20 a.m.

Cultural, retail, entertainment destination envisioned for Lower Roxbury

A team of developers who hope to transform a vacant Lower Roxbury land parcel into a hub of culture and commerce presented their plans at a public meeting May 16.

The meeting was part of the formal approval process for “Tremont Crossing,” the residential, office, retail and museum complex proposed for the lot known as Parcel 3 on Tremont Street across from the Boston Police headquarters.

“This is the first official community meeting for this project; I do not expect it to be the last,” said Erico Lopez, Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) senior project manager, as he welcomed the 35 or so attendees and introduced the developers.

The meeting’s purpose was to present the plans to local residents and stakeholders, address questions and invite people to submit comments to the BRA before the June 1 deadline.

The project is proposed by P-3 Partners, a consortium that includes Feldco Development Corporation, a Connecticut-based firm experienced in shopping center and office building development, and Elma Lewis Partners, a development offshoot of the nonprofit National Center for Afro-American Artists (NCAAA) in Roxbury.

Feldco President Barry Feldman gave an overview of the project he termed a “true mixed-use development.”

The project includes 240 rental apartments in an 11-story residential tower; some 500,000 square feet of large-format retail, possibly including entertainment and recreational uses; 50,000 square feet of smaller retail facing Tremont Street; and 200,000 square feet of office space.

In addition, the plans include a large public plaza and 1,700 parking spaces in a multi-level garage. Approximately 58,000 square feet will be devoted to cultural facilities, including a new NCAAA museum.

Barry Gaither, NCAAA’s director and a member of the P-3 Partners team, spoke of the project’s cultural aspirations and the projected economic benefits for the Roxbury community.

“Many of you know that this project grew out of the vision of Elma Lewis, an extraordinary daughter of Roxbury,” he said. “She is known as the founder of the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts and the Elma Lewis Playhouse, as well as the National Center for Afro-American Artists. This project will be a continuation of her educational and cultural legacy.”

The development is expected to generate 670 construction jobs and 1,738 permanent jobs in office, retail, museum, and administrative work. Gaither outlined a planned Office for Community Collaborations and Opportunities that will work on collaborations with local schools and institutions to create educational, internship and job placement opportunities for local residents.

In addition, Gaither said, the developers are committed to making annual contributions to the Whittier Street and Alice Taylor housing developments and to the Roxbury Trust.

David Lee of Stull and Lee, Inc., one of Tremont Crossing’s two design firms, described the project as part of a continued “re-imagining” of Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street from the South End to Jackson Square.

“The character of this street is going to change mightily,” Lee said. He drew a comparison to Boylston Street in the Back Bay — full of shops, restaurants, and people coming and going, “but with a distinctly Roxbury vibe.”