Roslindale Neighbors: RVMS check-in

Preparing for holiday season celebrations and working to fill the vacant storefronts in the area are some of the items on the agenda for Roslindale Village Main Street (RVMS).

Alia Hamada Forrest, the new executive director of RMVS, said that the organization’s biggest challenge this year will be tackling the problem of Roslindale’s vacant storefronts. Forrest says that one of her priorities is to work with the economic development committee to figure out how to help with this problem, and brainstorm ways to activate spaces.

The strategy for activating storefronts will be with art and possible pop-up shops for the holiday seasons.

“It’s hard to figure out who to get the OK from,” Forrest said. She said that sometimes the property owner isn’t even in the country, so RVMS has to work with those property owners through their broker.

One strategy RVMS will use is to bring artists to create more attractive signs for the empty storefronts.

“Empty storefront signage looks better than nothing,” Forrest said. “There are a lot of artists in this community that are eager to beautify these spaces, so we’ll be bringing some artists to the spaces so they can come up with some projects that they can potentially do in the winter or spring.”

Forrest said RVMS’s goal is to activate at least one vacant storefront this year.

“Just having art in the space will showcase the space, and when people come to visit, you may have a potential small business owner, it’s more welcoming,” Forrest said.

The renovation of the substation building is still on schedule, said Forrest. The substation is a historical building at 4228 Washington St. that was previously used by the MBTA and is being renovated through the joint venture of RVMS, Historic Boston, Inc. (HBI) and Peregrine Group. Windows in the building will be installed by the end of November, and the Craft Beer Seller Roslindale is still scheduled to open in December. The restaurant is still slated to be open in spring 2017.

“If it all gets done on schedule, I will be the lucky (RVMS) director to reap the fruit of other directors hard work,” Forrest joked.          The building has been vacant for 30 years, and its renovation was a major goal of RVMS since its start.

As the winter holiday season approaches, Roslindale residents can look forward to a new tradition: a tree lighting and holiday market event. This year will be a one night only pilot program of what RVMS hopes to organize annually. Birch Street will be closed down, and there will be local vendors with hot chocolate, holiday music, and a warmer building at the Emerald Society with children’s activities. The event will be on Dec. 15, and is an attempt to increase foot traffic in the neighborhood.

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