Walsh plans incubator space in Dudley Square
A center of the African-American community in Boston, Dudley Square will include between 3,500 and 4,000 square feet of “incubator space” under a plan Mayor Marty Walsh is set to announce Tuesday.
“We want to be able to spread, so it’s not just in Kendall Square and in the Innovation District, but it’s also in Dudley,” Walsh told the News Service about his plans for expanding the city’s entrepreneurial hub. “This is incubator space and hopefully the start-up companies that we have in there come right out of the community.”
The Roxbury neighborhood undergoing redevelopment is currently home to a bus depot surrounded by shops and take-out restaurants. City councilors have decried the lack of liquor licenses available for restaurants in Roxbury and other predominantly black neighborhoods.
The redevelopment of the old Ferdinand Building in Dudley will house the new headquarters of Boston Public Schools, and the incubator space for foundling companies will also be housed in the former furniture building.
Former Mayor Tom Menino had hoped Partners HealthCare System would be part of future redevelopment in Roxbury, though the health care giant opted instead to settle its administrative offices in Assembly Square, Somerville.
Fresh from negotiating a roundly praised contract with the city’s firefighters, Walsh, a former trades union chief, will speak to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce for the first time Tuesday morning.
Walsh also plans to announce a new position of zoning director, or “zoning czar,” who will be the point person on regulatory changes at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, as well as a new digital director to take the lead on the city’s online presence. Those positions have not yet been filled.
Walsh discussed a BRA overhaul on the campaign trail and hired as his chief of staff David Arrigg Koh, who was general manager of HuffPost Live.
The Dorchester Democrat, who left the House in January for the newly won mayoralty, said he is waiting for an audit from KPMG before deciding how to proceed with overhauling the development agency. He said the BRA has permitted more than $2 billion in construction projects since he entered office, which he said is more than the same period last year.
Walsh also said he had included funding in his budget to investigate possible next steps for City Hall. During his campaign Walsh raised the idea of selling the Government Center plot.
The chief executive of a city that takes pride in its history as well as the relatively modern biotech and Internet industries, Walsh said his administration is hoping to meet the needs of new companies as well as older companies that have had to innovate over the years to stay successful.
Asked about Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to do away with noncompete contracts, which can prevent employees from moving from job-to-job within an industry – and protect trade secrets, according to major industry representatives — Walsh said he is hearing a “mixed reaction” to the proposal.
Walsh said he would not spend his speech discussing his nearly four months in office. He said he would talk about the city’s efforts to streamline permitting as well as the relationships between the business community and Economic Development Chief John Barros and acting BRA Director Brian Golden.
“Clearly, people in the business community seem pretty happy or very relaxed with my administration,” Walsh said. “They want certainty, transparency and responsiveness in city government.”
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.