February 26, 2020 HBI Envisions History and Wellness Center for Historic Nawn Factory
In response to the Plan Nubian Square Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Owen Nawn Factory, Historic Boston Inc. (HBI) recently submitted a fresh vision for the historic building as home to the Wellness Collaborative and a Roxbury History and Orientation Center.
HBI proposes to transform the long-vacant Nawn Factory into a new commercial mixed-use space that 1) restores and reactivates the historic Roxbury building, 2) creates a dynamic center in which to learn the neighborhood’s rich history, and 3) supports innovation in community health and wellness through professionally delivered, culturally relevant programs and services.
The proposed $8.26 million rehabilitation project restores the Nawn Factory to its 1880s appearance, and a re-creates the portion of the building that was lost to fire more than 20 years ago so that the Nawn Factory will appear in volume much as it was through the 20th century.
Within the Nawn Factory, the proposed rehabilitation devotes nearly 2400 square feet of mixed-use space for the Roxbury History and Orientation Center in the form of a “History Café,” a café-retail-interpretation space that welcomes residents and visitors to explore the neighborhood’ s varied and diverse past. HBI will work with a community advisory group to develop themes and plans for static and digital exhibits, geo-coded walking tours, and immersive augmented and virtual reality content that seamlessly integrates with the on-site visitor’s journey and enables visitors to take a trip through time and history.
Space within the History and Orientation Center will be used for public programs, discussion groups and meetings, and a retail space will be set aside for Roxbury-made and Roxbury-themed items. Revenue from retail and traditional café uses will help to underwrite management and maintenance of the space.
HBI’s proposal is a partnership with The Wellness Collaborative (TWC), an organization founded by three black women – an internist, a pediatrician and psychologist – and a social enterprise that provides an innovative solution to eliminating health care disparities in African American communities experiencing disproportionate impact.
TWC provides health education for the community, employers, as well as trainings for health care service organizations. Their headquarters at the Nawn Factory will host educational forums and training opportunities, and will also provide space to an interdisciplinary network of healthcare and small businesses in the health care and wellness-related fields.
In addition to the building’s preservation and planned community uses, the development team expects to abide by the employment and social goals set out by the Plan Nubian Square process, and to work closely with surrounding property owners and developers to create a place that becomes a source of pride for the neighborhood.
Plans for the Nawn Factory’s development and landscape will be coordinated closely with plans for a new open space at the corner of Melnea Cass Boulevard and Washington Street in an effort to further extend the community history interpretation through that the site’s archaeological remains.
See HBI’s submission here: