Boston, MA - When Mayor Marty Walsh delivered his annual State of the City address this past Tuesday, the topics addressed included the increased visibility of diversity in Boston neighborhoods as well as strategic initiatives to combat inaffordable housing costs and the subsequent rise in homelessness; both of which have been long standing issues facing many Boston residents.
Among his proposals also included the announcement of a new live jazz restaurant in the Bolling Municipal Building, located in Roxbury’s Dudley Square.
The restaurant—dubbed the JazzUrbane Café—would be the first live venue to occupy the Bolling Municipal Building since its unveiling in 2015. Other retailers include the casual restaurants Soleil and Dudley Café.
“We’re working to create opportunity in every neighborhood and every community in Boston, and the JazzUrbane Café will serve as a place for families and friends to gather for community conversations, civic meetings, entertainment and so much more,” Walsh said in a press statement. “I’m proud to have this new venue in the Bolling Building, and continue creating spaces and opportunities for all.”
However, not everyone is satisfied with the announcement as a permanent solution to the rising cost of commercial real estate in Roxbury as beyond.
“Generally, Washington Street is going to look very vacant,” Executive Director of Dudley Square Main Streets Joyce Stanley said, citing the recent closing of the Haley House Bakery Cafe; a similar venue which combined live performance, food and community outreach programs. “We’re planning a meeting with landlords on main streets in the city to talk about what we need to recruit businesses.”
“Over time, every new idea that came in was added on to what we do, and that has really been powerful,” said Haley House Executive Director Bing Broderick “At the same time, what I would like to see us do more is design our business and incorporate programs that were maybe more on the outside of our operations and integrate them into the central operation.”
“We feel strongly that Roxbury is rich in culture, and that it is important to provide a venue for it,” Broderick added.
The JazzUrbane Café will be operated by Berklee Professor Bill Banfield, a local musician who was most recently seen performing weekly at the Darryl’s Corner Bar in the South End.
“I’m grateful to Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston, and I am excited for the opportunity to create a truly unique experience in Roxbury, to bring back jazz to Dudley Square, and build an establishment that will become a destination for all residents and visitors,” stated Banfield in a press release.