Substation rehab is dead for now

John Ruch

Roslindale Neighbors

ROSLINDALE VILLAGE—Dreams of turning the former MBTA substation into a high-end restaurant or nightlife spot in time for its 100th birthday next year are dead, as the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) rejected all three pending redevelopment proposals last week, the Gazette has learned.

The giant brick building at Washington Street and Cummins Highway, a former power substation for the old Orange Line streetcars, has been vacant for 40 years and a gap in the neighborhood’s core. A new city redevelopment effort in 2008 attracted bids from three star-studded development teams.

They included Jamaica Plain’s WaterMark Development & Construction; Urbanica, Inc.; and Diamond/Sinacori with Hart Development Associates. Partners with those teams included the restaurateurs behind the South End’s trendy Banq and Beehive restaurants.

But those proposals stalled out as the global financial crisis hit, and the BRA became more cautious about approving projects after such fiascos as the half-demolished former Filene’s building in Downtown Crossing.

On May 21, the BRA put the final nail in the coffin of the latest redevelopment effort. In identical letters sent to all three bidders, copies of which were provided to the Gazette, the BRA said it is “exercis[ing] its right to reject all proposals.” No specific reason was given, though the letter said that none of the proposals were “satisfactory.”

It is unclear when or if the BRA will reissue a request for proposals for the substation. The MBTA cleaned up the substation in recent years and sold it to the BRA.

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