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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Clean Streets II

From April Fools' Day to the end of November, eight months of the year, Boston Department of Public Works street sweepers ply the roads and avenues of Boston and Fort Hill. The day after the end of the March Monsoons, street sweepers were spotted on Centre Street in Roxbury and, during a quick shopping trip, on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.

Residential sweeping—and enforcement—starts in earnest on Monday. It will be interesting to see whether Boston engages in a paroxysm of towing on Fort Hill as they did last year, or whether this season of street sweeping will be introduced with only a plague of tickets.

Whichever method is chosen, there will be some very surprised and unhappy residents and commuters in the early days of next week.

The DPW publishes its street sweeping schedule from a remarkably obtuse user interface. The Search by Street Name feature, which is what the average user really wants, is grayed out and not yet implemented. Instead one has to either paw through the entire street sweeping schedule of a particular DPW district, assuming one knows what district contains the desired street. The best way to manage this cumbersome list is to use the browser's search (usually Ctrl+F) to find your street .

Otherwise, one must choose an ordinal number (sic, 1st through 5th!) and one or more days of the week. If you choose just a day of the week your query returns no results. This form seems it would be more interesting to DPW personnel than to Peter Parker.

In a nice touch, the Boston DPW provides the street sweeping schedule for the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation. This information is also available at the DCR's own web site.

Using the same clumsy interface the DPW offers email reminders.

It is hard to know whether to congratulate and encourage Boston for offering this information on the web at all, or whether to wonder how many years it will take for IT in this little corner of www.cityofboston.gov to catch up to industry standards.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Urban Amenities: Clean Streets

The weather warms, the snow is long gone, and folk are out puttering in their yards, beginning the slow preparation for spring. It's not unusual to to be slightly appalled at the urban trash and litter left behind by the receding winter and snow.

The ubiquitous plastic bags, the fast food containers, cigarette packages, wind-blown paper and cardboard, soda cups, and beverage containers, all moldering in a fecund, smelly matrix of decaying leaves.

It is the city, after all, and it's hard to keep on top of things, when the wind howls and the snow sleets against the face. So, when the weather begins to relent, a couple of hours raking, scraping, and sweeping outside, a little industry, and the front of the property is presentable again.

But, what about the back of the property? Do property owners feel responsible for the back of their parcels?

On Roxbury Street, in two cases, the answer seems to be no.

The Louis Prang House and the old firehouse on Centre Street are reasonably well-kempt.

But, these parcels front both Centre Street and Roxbury Street. In contrast to the clean sidewalks on Centre Street, these property owners permit disgusting conditions on Roxbury Street, to the point where the sidewalk isn't really passable.

The City of Boston and the Prang Estates Associates are the responsible owners of 27 and 29 Centre Street. Perhaps as part of their spring cleaning, they will cast an eye on their Roxbury Street frontage and clean their act up.

The Cruz Management Company claims Prang Estates and Prang House as part of their management portfolio. The tidy bit of landscaping depicted at the right is just around the corner from the trash in the three photographs above.

It wouldn't take too much effort for Cruz to extend its perimeter of concern from merely in front of their office entrance to just up Roxbury Street. With our new neighbors in the mosque and the new Ashur Restaurant taking reasonably good care of their property, it would seem to be the neighborly thing to do.

There is one more point: Roxbury Street, from John Eliot Square to Elmwood Street, is heavily parked by commuters. If we don't show respect for our environs, keeping our streets clean, then the commuters won't either. It is a struggle on Gardner Street, with commuters dumping trash out of their vehicles, but the battle, so far, is totally lost on Roxbury Street.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Open Space II: King Street Playground

I was mistaken in my most recent post about the King Street Playground.

Two recent visits showed the George Robert White Play Space to be locked at night and, during the day, to be open, peaceful, clean, and picked up.

Much less than the usual amount of end-of-winter, wind-blown urban trash was present. There were two make-shift bird feeders, unsurprisingly full to the brim, given the recent deluges.

Pawing around in Google produced a brochure from Native Landscapes who designed the rehabilitation of the play space. Their plan for the play space is on page 13 of this link [4.2 MB pdf].

What I had remembered as, and probably was, part of the playground apparently has been conveyed to the ISB.

Regrettably the George Robert White Fund only owned the parcel at the corner of Roxbury and King streets.

This little park contains a well-proportioned shallow sunken pool. Perhaps in better days it was an infant wading pool or contained a fountain.

Before the mosque was built it was an quietly exquisite place to sit unmolested, contemplating the huge willow tree that graced the parcel that now bears the mosque, with the bustle of Roxbury Crossing in the background. One can see the modern granite bollards in the picture above.

The picture to the right shows the corridor of land from the mosque's parking lot to Roxbury Street.

It suffers in comparison from other disused lots in the neighborhood only in that it has been disturbed more recently and nature has had less time to reclaim it.

Given a couple of more years of passive neglect, it will blend right in with the rest of the disused lots.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Urban Amenities: Open Space I

One of the best things about Fort Hill—besides being located on a hill in view of Dorchester Bay—is its parks and open space. Of all the close-in neighborhoods of Boston, Highland Park seems to have the highest ratio of open space.

This open space consists of city parks, a State Park, designated Urban Wilds, community gardens, the vestigal Roxbury Common at the First Church, playgrounds and playing fields, and, of course, the numerous unimproved lots, the dubious legacy of the plague of arson in the 1970s and '80s.

One city park, Clarence "Jeep" Jones Park, located at the bluff on Malcolm X Boulevard, has been improved at least twice since the '70s.

In the sweetheart deal conveying the 88,000 sq ft parcel at 100 Malcolm X Boulevard to the Islamic Society of Boston, ISB was to have maintained the park, and the King Street Playground, for a period of ten years until 2013.

The ISB fell on hard fund-raising times and has been just able to complete phase 1 of its planned mosque and cultural center. It has so far failed to fulfill its obligations for maintenance of Jeep Jones and the King Street Playground.

The Boston Parks and Recreation 2008 Annual Report [1.3MB pdf] contains a very brief notice of a $885K state grant for capital reconstruction of Jeep Jones and the Ripley Playground.

For its second improvement, crews have been busy at Jeep Jones during the winter. It seems the park will open soon with new fences, planting, and hardscape. The basketball courts are gone, but the new design invitingly opens onto John Eliot Square.

However, the King Street playground and the corridor of ISB-owned land at Roxbury Street remain a wasteland.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Got Milk? II: You bet. Fernandez III has milk

Fernandes III Market (2665 Washington St, Roxbury) has milk. And, five kinds of beans.

About ¾ of the stock space seems to be devoted to beer, wine, and liquor. The other 25% to food and household products: mops, paper goods, some canned goods, 15# bags of rice. You can definitely make a decent dinner shopping from Fernandez. There is even a small ice cream case.

It was definitely nice that there was no attitude.

So, there are three places to purchase milk on Fort Hill.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Got Milk? Amenities for the body

It hadn't been my intention to ignore amenities for the body by focusing three consecutive posts on amenities for the spirit, but Elder Mitchell's flock was so quickly industrious with their new sign that it seemed ungracious not to make immediate note of it. The good people of the Mission Church had filled their parking lot—and seemingly the church building, too—as I went by Friday evening around 8 o'clock.

Got milk?

One of the essential basics of a corner store—beyond cigarettes and lottery tickets—seems to be milk. Fort Hill is blessed with two, nicely distributed, corner stores, one roughly at the north end, and the other at the south end of the hill.

At John Eliot Square is Juba Market and Café. At the corner of Highland and Marcella streets is the Marcella Market. They are very different in almost every way.

Juba Market is just getting started, but the merchandise is still surprisingly spare. There barely seems to be enough stock to justify one quarter of the square footage Juba is renting. Focused on the Timilty School perhaps, candy and snacks are the extent of things. Oh. And, milk. And, sodas.

The day I was there, tradesmen were working to install the commercial stove in the open in the back. The extremely pleasant man working the cash register volunteered to me that they would soon be serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Now, the Marcella Market is an entirely different kettle of fish. This place is packed to the gunnels with absolutely everything you need to entertain the first, second, and third cousins when they and their families stop by unannounced.

There was cooking oil, beans (three kinds), rice, canned goods, paper plates, disposable roasting pans, desserts, some lunch meats,plus the obligatory sodas. And, milk. The merchandise is packed so high they need a 7-foot stock boy to fetch down the paper goods from the top shelves. The signs in the window advertise an ATM, but I missed seeing it among the tightly packed shelving units.

Marcella Market is stocked with an abundance of attitude as well. When I entered the store the gentleman behind the counter drilled holes into me with his eyes and the card players paused their game to inspect the new arrival. I circuited the small store for perhaps a full sixty seconds trying to take it all in. When I returned to the the front of the store a pugnacious little cannonball of a man stood belligerently between me and the door. "What do you want?" was his greeting.

As I said, Juba and Marcella markets are very different, but in common, both are run by immigrants and both have milk, though Marcella Market has a Dun & Bradstreet and, if this posting is to be believed, was on the market last June for $30,000 (no inventory).

Now, I'll be honest. I haven't been by to Fernandez III Liquors to see if they stock milk. I'll try to obtain that bit of intelligence in the next week or so.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Got Faith? Legend's on the Hill morphs back into a church.

Mission Hill boasts the Mission Church and now Fort Hill has its own Mission Church, too.

The Fellowship Mission Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc. erected its new, well-lighted sign at 85 Centre Street this afternoon. They seem to be one of three churches in the metropolitan area affiliated with the Mission Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a diocese of the larger COOLJC.

A quick peek in the door shows a a spic 'n' span buff-colored interior with a wooden lectern already in place. So far, there were no chairs or pews, though.

This announcement comes from their Facebook wall:
Fellowship Mission Church now has an address! 85 CENTRE ST. Boston (behind Rox Comm College) Come & be blessed - Fri 8pm prayer 4 power & prosperity! Sun 11am Worship & Praise - You will leave more blessed than when you came! See you there!
85 Centre Street was the proposed location of Beehive developer, Darryl Settles's latest entrepreneurial venture, Legend's on the Hill. When neighborhood opposition grew Mr. Settles withdrew consideration of his various proposals. It seems, denied a nice profit on a commercial-land venture, the property's owner has thrown his lot in with Elder Marshall on a spiritual venture.

It has been an interesting couple of years for this lot of land, from disused building to neighborhood store to disused building to putative church to proposed bar-restaurant and back to a church, again.

As noted earlier on this blog (4th & 5th paragraphs of this post), churches are not always the best neighbors. It will be interesting to see whether Fort Hill's Mission Church will be a good neighbor, whether they will successfully evangelize the neighborhood or whether the congregation will come entirely from off the hill, and whether the residents will reminisce about the good-ole days when the building was quiet and disused.

Next posts: Got Milk?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spiritual Amenities II: Timothy Baptist Church

Some folk's thoughts about the social ferment on Fort Hill in the '70s cluster around the housing activism of the Roxbury Action Program and the counter-cultural activism of Mel Lyman, American Avatar, and white revolutionary communes [re-published articles from the Bay State Banner 30 years apart].

A different side of the developing social fabric of the '70s was in the arrival, in 1977, of the Timothy Baptist Church. Founded in 1967 by Dekalb, Mississippi, transplant Dennis L. Grace, the church bounced around from Norfolk to Bowdoin to Nelson streets in Dorchester, before settling in the old Latvian church on the 10,000 sq ft parcel at the corner of Highland and Morley streets.

The Timothy Baptist Church, Inc. web site is remarkable for any church or business. It is broad and deep. It enables the reader to learn a great deal about the church and its leadership, from their views on Believer-baptism to the family.

The building itself is wedged in among the backyards of its residential neighbors. It is in good repair, with at least five split-duct air conditioning units, so perhaps, during the warm months the windows remain closed and the sound of the music and worship does not intrude too much on the neighbors. The parcel does not contain any parking, so Highland Street was parked up to the gills at 2 pm on a recent Sunday afternoon.

There is a full church hall beneath the handicap accessible worship space. The picture gallery [an exquisitely annoying Smilebox page] shows lots of smiles and children.

Looking for a Christian house of worship on Sunday morning within easy walking distance? The Timothy Baptist Church could fit the bill: Sunday School for all ages at 9:30 and worship at 11 am.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spiritual Amenities on Fort Hill: I

Some on Fort Hill have bemoaned its lack of "urban amenities." A Highland Parking vision process seems to be just beginning, so those seeking a greater number or variety of urban amenities have not had a chance to elaborate what they mean by these words in a broad public forum.

Given recent controversy, certainly a neighborhood place to get a drink of alcohol, hear some nice jazz, and be able to break bread with friends was central to these desires. Or, perhaps, the dark horse chance of a jazz-tavern only rushed in from the margins of possibility with talk of Mr. Settles's Centre Street club.

Some folk have expressed simple desires: to be able to purchase a gallon of milk, to get a take-out sandwich, or to do laundry without having to walk off the hill. Sometimes the fabled dry cleaners on Alvah Kittredge Square gets a mention in the litany of wouldn't it be nice if....

Given the concentration of artists on the hill, it would be natural to yearn for well-lighted gallery or studio space, or for an intimate performance venue for music or drama.

Art, drama, and music provoke challenge and provide comfort to the spirit and soul. So, too, does religion.

The proposed use at 85 Centre Street has veered recently from nothing to church to bar to something unknown. Since the controversy has provoked a Highland Park vision process and since a recent proposed use for #85 was spiritual—and may yet be—it seems topical to consider current religious uses on the hill: the churches, mosques, and other spiritual amenities.

It would be too easy and too obvious to start with the landmarks. So, instead, the next posts will briefly examine the less obvious houses for the spirit.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Zipcars just off Centre Street, Fort Hill

Zipcars adjacent to Centre Street, Fort Hill. Four of them. Who knew? Three of them were on the road the afternoon this photograph was taken.

These cars are located in the first four spots at the entrance to the Roxbury Community College parking lot, north of New Heath Street.

Merton Place and Newark Street, depicted in the Google map, seem to have been obliterated by the parking lot. The, then out-of-date, 1992 edition of the Arrow Street Guide lists Newark as "from 166 Cedar to south of Mertron pl" [sic] and Merton Pl "from 133 Centre to 33 Newark."

Zipcar has ten locations clustered around Brigham Circle and littered throughout the Longwood Medical Area, but, except for this small incursion at Centre Street, the rest of Roxbury is total bereft of this mobile urban amenity.

Trekking east, Dorchester Avenue is the closest to Fort Hill. Westward to Jamaica Plain (5 locations), the closest is just outside of Hyde Square. The only Roxbury neighborhoods known to Zipcar are Mission Hill and, "Fenway/Longwood".

Some of the parking spaces Zipcar rents in Dorchester go for $130 per month. I wonder how much RCC gains from these four spots.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Darryl Settles withdraws 85 Centre St Bar and Restaurant Project.

In a Monday evening email to City Councillor Chuck Turner, State Representative Gloria Fox, City of Boston Neighborhood Coordinator Keith Williams, and various neighbors of 85 Centre Street, Darryl Settles wrote that he has decided, after much soul searching, not to go forward with his project for a bar and restaurant at that location. He thanked the neighborhood for its time and consideration, and wished it the best in its vision discovery process.

It has been a tense month. We are glad this episode in the on-again, off-again development saga of this parcel seems to be over. We, too, wish the best for Mr. Settles.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The concerns of the neighbors on Centre Street should be your concerns, too.

We’ve been told that the proposal for a bar/restaurant at 85 Centre Street has been withdrawn. If we get confirmation of that, we’ll post it.

This is not the first time for 85 Centre Street.

Even if the most recent proposal has been withdrawn, we still think it important to round out the reasons why this proposal is a bad idea. Every decade or so it seems a new proposal for a bar/restaurant crops up at 85 Centre Street. It was the Society of Vulcans at one time, and various private social clubs at others. Each time it seems the neighbors on Centre Street have to shout for their concerns to be heard.

Mr. Settles isn't the issue.

Given all that can be learned about Mr. Settles, he probably is the very best entrepreneur the Centre Street residents could hope for. If this blog hasn't shown high enough regard for Mr. Settles’s reputation—if not his approach to the neighborhood—here is a fine article from Restaurant Confidential on this "quintessential entrepreneur." But, Mr. Settles’s business reputation isn’t the issue. Once Mr. Settles has moved on to his next venture, the neighbors will still be living next to a bar and restaurant being run by the successor owner/manager.

A new bar and restaurant is the issue, not Mr. Settles.

Current aspects of the neighborhood

On the face of things, it should be easy to understand the neighbors’ concerns.

The neighborhood has a status quo. It is up to those who wish to change that to demonstrate why the lives of the Centre Street neighbors will be improved—not the other way around.

Here are a few characteristics of the neighborhood, some positive and some not so positive:
  • Residential
  • Families with children
  • Large number of long-term residents
  • Significant numbers of residents who moved to the neighborhood for its current character
  • Busy and urban during the day
  • Quiet and unhurried during the evening
  • Significant impingement by the immediate institutions and urban infrastructure (Roxbury Community College, Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, the mosque, the Orange Line, Fenway Park)
  • Heavy day-time and weekend traffic
  • Heavy day-time parking
  • Vehicular traffic traveling too fast at all hours
Likely changes a bar/restaurant would bring

Here are a few of the negative changes a bar/restaurant would introduce to the neighborhood (We’ll leave it to proponents to list the positive ones):
  • A business establishment dropped into an otherwise residential neighborhood
  • A liquor license, with the inevitable noise and disorderliness
  • Increased day-time traffic (employees and liquor/restaurant supply deliveries)
  • Increased night-time traffic
  • Increased day-time parking congestion (employees)
  • Night-time parking congestion (customers and employees)
  • Noise from arriving and departing parties to the bar/restaurant
  • Noise from the normal business operation (music on the patios, kitchen exhaust fans, emptying of garbage into the dumpsters)
  • Odors from the kitchen exhaust fans
It would be surprising to learn of a residential neighborhood that would welcome these negative changes.

Commercial use up the hill isn't very popular either.

In fact, commercial use at 74 Highland/13 Dorr at Alvah Kittredge Square was recently turned down at a neighborhood meeting. From the distributed notes to that meeting:
The consensus was that although some retail or non-housing uses may be desired in the neighborhood (convenience store, laundromat, etc.) that the down side of these uses in terms of feasibility, security, traffic/parking and other concerns outweighed the benefits.
If these are concerns are to be respected two blocks away at Kittredge Square, they ought to be equally respected, just down the hill, on Centre Street.

In the next posts, we'll discuss the desire for a more urban amenities, and suggest ways this desire could be met. If the proposal for 85 Centre has been withdrawn, we'll post that, too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tidying up the details on 85 Centre St & Darryl Settles

There are just a few details of fact and hearsay to tidy up regarding Darryl Settles and 85 Centre Street, before concluding the inaugural spate of posts for this blog.

For the record, here is a transcription of the Boston Licensing Board notice for the 27 January 2010 hearing.

Telsa Hospitality Group, Inc.
d/b/a "Legend's on the Hill"
85 Centre Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Pursuant to MGLA 138, 15A you are hereby notified to appear at the offices of the Boston Licensing Board.

William F. Arrigal, Jr.
Room 809A
--City Hall - Boston

Wednesday January 27, 2010 10:00 AM

Has applied for a C.V. 7-Day All Alc. Bev. License-To be exercised on the above premises-In whole of said building, including in one room on first floor with kitchen and restrooms in rear, main entrance on Centre Street and exit to patio areas in rear; dining room and storage in basement; office on second floor; and including an attached greenhouse outdoor seating are [sic] for fifty (50) patrons and adjacent outdoor patio for twenty-five (25) patrons on private property between the hours of 11:00 AM-midnight.

Darryl Settles, Manager

2:00 AM Closing Hour

Please contact Cynthia Fulton from this office if you have any questions

The Licensing Board can be reached at
One City Hall Square, Room 809, Boston, Massachusetts 02201 617-635-4170 Fax: 617-635-4742

In the event, Mr. Settles withdrew his application to the Licensing Board just before the 27 January Board meeting. His application did not come up.

Here are a few comments on this notice. The areas listed in the application are:

1. "one room on first floor with kitchen and restrooms in rear"
2. "dining room and storage in basement"
3. "office on second floor"
4. "attached greenhouse outdoor seating"
5. "patio area in rear" and "adjacent outdoor patio"

And all this was proposed for a building with a gross first floor area of 1254 sq ft. Now granted the current owner is hoping to add more square footage to this, for he has been excavating beneath the first floor—reportedly without getting city permits or notifying DigSafe.

As for area #3, there is no second floor. Judging by the brick construction and exterior conditions shown in the accompanying photograph, the current structure will never bear a second story.

Regarding area #5, this building really has no rear. Zooming all the way in on the City of Boston Assessing Department map, of the property shows a postage stamp's worth of land between the rear exit an the lot line.

The photograph on the right shows that surveyor stakes have recently been set on the back lot line. There are two visible, and they show just how tight the current building is to the back lot line. It's hard to say for certain, but it looks as though the new, below-grade, cinder block construction impinges over the lot line.

Regarding area #4, the attached greenhouse seating clearly must be meant for the adjacent, Dover Amendment parking lot at #79 Centre St.

Reported conversations with various neighbors

In separate conversations with various neighbors, Mr. Settles asserted that he was planning on a "hamburger joint," a "small cafe with a few tables," and that he was applying for the the CV 7-Day All Alc. License just so he'd be able to keep all his options open. But, he really wouldn't want to close any later than, say, midnight.

In conversation with another neighbor, Mr. Settles has since said that the excavation of the current owner has so damaged the structural integrity of the building that it cannot be saved for any purpose.

In discussions following this revelation, Mr. Settles has asserted that he would want nine apartments [sic!] above (presumably on the top two floors) with unspecified commercial space on the first floor. Hearing the gasps, he recalibrated to say that perhaps six apartments on top and an art gallery on the first floor (with provision for alcohol and live music) made more sense.

Mr. Settles also asserted that he would arrange with Roxbury Community College for valet parking.

The payoff for this post

Mr. Settles's main interest seems to be just to get his project started. Even though the existing building can not possibly support the business envisioned in the Licensing Board application, it will enough for Mr. Settles to commence renovations, only to discover—surprise!—that he has to raze the building, expand the footprint to include most of the 5158 sq ft on both lots, excavate a proper foundation and basement, and then build something to suit his obvious ambitions.

Start with a humble burger joint and end with the desired jazz-bar and restaurant seems to be the ad hoc strategy, with nods to residential development along the way.

The next posts will use the facts and observations laid out in these ten posts to argue the conclusion that Darryl Settles and his ideas are this idea is wrong for Centre Street.

An addendum: We've let our rhetoric carry us away. In poking around in the Registry of Deeds web site, we learned something we did not know: Mr. Settles was involved with the development of the condominiums at 147-151 Centre Street. So far as we know, these are a fine addition to the neighborhood.

Blowing Darryl Settles's Horn

The photograph at the left is owned by the Berklee College of Music. It depicts the Beantown Jazz Festival on Columbus Avenue, Roxbury. It is reproduced here to give one measure of Darryl Settles's undoubted success at attracting crowds to his business ventures.

By all accounts Darryl Settles is a notable entrepreneur, restaurateur, and businessman.

He took over—and made over—Bob the Chef's in a time when folk weren't that eager to think of its Northampton Street location as the fashionable South End. He had a good 17-year run with that business, before moving on to the Beehive Restaurant, which actually is located in the South End.

Ten years ago Mr. Settles produced the first Beantown Jazz Festival. Starting from an amazing 10,000 attendees in its first year, the size swelled to 80,000 attendees in 2009. He continued producing it until Berklee College of Music assumed responsibility for it seven years later. The Beehive restaurant remained a prominent sponsor in 2009.

By his own account, Mr. Settles's contributions to the Boston community are broad and extend from hunger and homelessness to minority health issues and Gay Pride. While he used to live in Roxbury and has now moved to Newton, Mr. Settles maintains his civic connection to Boston.

He claims membership on the boards of the Huntington Theatre, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Berklee College of Music Advisory Board.

Mr. Settles was appointed to the board of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority on 22 Feb 2008 by Governor Deval Patrick.

His restaurant business ventures are prominent enough in the Boston community that when news filtered out that someone was interested in opening a jazz bar & restaurant on Fort Hill, there was speculation about it in the foodie press (Grubb Street article 1 and 2).

Here is Mr. Settles's own take on his accomplishments at his D'Ventures Limited web site. Here is his more expansive take [20kb pdf] at the vestigial web site of Bob's Southern Bistro.

Mr. Settles has had his share of public business problems (e.g., this Globe article about a business dispute with his Beehive partners), but these are to be expected.

The entertainment publication Stuff@Night named Mr. Settles, in 2001, "One of Boston's Most Powerful Players." In 2005, 2006, and 2007 they named him as one of the "100 Players of Boston's Nightlife."

At this point the reader may be thinking, "We are all sure that Darryl Settles is a fine and successful businessman, but, What is the payoff for this post?"

The payoff for this post is not another encomium to the social and capitalist prowess of Darryl Settles. He does not need a Jonas Prang for that.

The payoff for this post is a warning.

Mr. Settles is wired fully into the Boston business community, into the Boston charitable community, into Boston and Commonwealth politics. He is a board member of the Convention Center. He served as an associate commissioner of the Metropolitan District Commission. He serves on the board of the MFA and various other cultural institutions.

Mr. Settles clearly has pull, and, no doubt he has some push, too.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Mr. Settles has the "pull" to to push an inappropriate venture onto an unwilling neighborhood.

The next few posts will show conclusively that a jazz-bar and restaurant does not belong in the residential environs of 85 Centre Street.