History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What is the Centre Street Neighborhood really like?

Overwhelmingly residential with a tiny bit of business at one end.

Some folk think that Centre Street is a great place to put a bar. After all, there isn't much there. There is a bar on Washington Street, which is one of two north-south marginal streets of Fort Hill. Why shouldn't there be another bar on Fort Hill's other north-south marginal street?

A marginal street. We think that when many people think of Centre Street, they do so in a marginal kind of way. In many people's mind, not only is Centre Street geographically on the margin, or perimeter, of Fort Hill, it really isn't so much a part of Highland Park as a way to get in and out of Highland Park.

A thoroughfare on the margins of consciousness. Centre Street: when driving, a way to speed from 'up the hill' to Jackson Square, to Roxbury Crossing, to Dudley Square, and to places beyond. Centre Street: when walking, a short respite after Gardner or Cedar streets before the laborious trudge home up Highland or Fort avenues, or up Linwood Street. Not really a part of my neighborhood, but necessary to get to my neighborhood.

But, for those who live there, Centre Street is not on the margins of consciousness. Centre Street is front and center of their daily lives.

Over the next couple of posts, this blog will explore the current status quo, the current character of the Centre Street neighborhood.

Here is what you will find on a leisurely walk from John Eliot Square to Columbus Avenue: Housing. Single family housing. Two- and three-family houses. Mostly wood frame, but with a sprinkling of brick row houses. Mostly buildings built in the mid- to late-1800s, but a couple of new houses built in the last ten years. There is one park at Linwood circle, and some privately owned property that is zoned as an urban wild. Centre Street Terrace has been developed as apartments, as has the building at the corner of New Heath Street.

Centre Street in Roxbury is overwhelmingly a residential street; however, there are a handful of non-residential uses. Located at the small numbers of Centre Street are two businesses: a Volvo repair shop at #1 and another car repair yard/Budget Truck rental shop at the corner of Highland Avenue. The Juba Market probably has a John Eliot Square address. One can argue either way whether it could be considered a Centre Street business.

After leaving Eliot Square, Centre Street is entirely residential for 1/2 mile to the other Roxbury end of the street. At the last address on the odd-numbered side of the street is the FIRST Askia Academy at 167 Centre Street, a long-term residential substance abuse treatment facility.

The former nursing homes (residential again) at the top of Gardner Street have been become apartments on the one side, and a two-family house on the other side.

The conclusion is that any use that is not residential does not conform to the current character of Centre Street. The status quo is residential.

The next posts will address traffic and parking.

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