May 17, 2010 The Vision Thing: 1510-1514 Dorchester Avenue Project
If we?ve learned anything from HBI?s Historic Neighborhood Centers program so far, it is that commercial property owners often need some special convincing before embarking on a preservation-based improvement project.
By late summer, HBI will begin construction at 1510-1514 Dorchester Avenue in Fields Corner, and the building?s unattractive bronze-color corrugated metal siding is at the top of the list of things to go.
Key to building owner Stephen Golden?s decision to proceed with this project was HBI?s early work in developing a vision for how the building could be improved. This not only involved commissioning a conceptual drawing of a rehabilitated building (which HBI based on research into the ca. 1895 building?s history and architectural style), but also articulating how the economic performance of the building could be enhanced and how grants (including a $50,000 grant from Boston’s ReStore Program, faciliated by Fields Corner Main Street, Inc.) and other sources of funding could be attracted to support a $280,000 project.
Then there is the suite of services that HBI is providing to sweeten the deal. In addition to serving as the primary lender, HBI will be the project manager for the work and serve as Mr. Golden?s representative to the project architect?Amory Architects?and the eventual contractor. This will ensure that the work proceeds smoothly, and will relieve some of the day to day pressure on the Goldens, who have never undertaken such a major project.
Demonstrating the value created through a preservation-oriented project requires a lot of patience through myriad tasks: providing the initial vision, defining a scope of work, analyzing and suggesting ways to improve the building?s economic performance and management, helping assemble and even provide financing, and overseeing the design and construction of the project. However, in situations where the status quo is likely to continue because building owners lack the resources or project development skills to realize the full potential of their historic property, HBI?s unique willingness to engage with buildings and their owners in creative and deep ways can turn great visions into reality.