Displaced Minority Businesses Call on City to Halt Roxbury Development

Economic Justice, Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice

Community Groups Call On City To Halt Roxbury Development That Is Displacing Small, Minority-Owned Businesses

Developer Made Repeated “No Displacement” Promises When Seeking City Approval 

African Community Development of New England (ACEDONE) and Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) formally called upon the City of Boston and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) to halt a proposed project in Roxbury due to egregious “bait and switch” tactics that the developer used to gain community support. 

The letter includes details of repeated promises made to the City by the Boston Real Estate Collaborative (BREC) that the proposed development at 1127 Harrison Avenue would result in “no displacement” of the small immigrant, minority- and women-owned businesses that currently occupy the development site.  Less than a year later, these small businesses have now been served with eviction notices, demanding that they leave immediately.  

In the request, ACEDONE and LCR bring attention to BREC’s egregious breach of community trust to gain support for the proposed project, citing numerous times that the developer stated in writing and in community presentations that the existing small businesses would not be displaced. Approximately seventeen small businesses currently occupy the space proposed for development.  Most, if not all, are immigrant, minority- and/or women-owned businesses, and many have served the Roxbury community at this location for many years.  They range from food businesses to clothing stores, many featuring goods and services that are of particular interest to the African community. 

“BREC made repeated emphatic promises in writing and on video of non-displacement only to gain support and receive approval for the project.” said Priya Lane, LCR’s BizGrow Director. These small businesses rightfully feel used. Far too many developers think they can get away with this bait-and-switch because the affected people are disproportionately immigrants, people of color, and non-English speaking. 

“BREC has completely broken their promises to the community,” said Abdulkadir Y. Hussein, Founder and Executive Director of ACEDONE. “It adds insult to injury that BREC chose Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer, reflection and community to demand that these businesses leave. This time of the year is also one of the most profitable for many of these small businesses.”

In preparation for its proposal to BPDA, BREC actively sought the support of ACEDONE and the existing businesses, by promising that the Project would result in no displacement of current business.  This included assurances that businesses would be allowed to move within the building during construction, that future rental increases would be capped, and that the businesses would all be given 10-year leases. After submitting its proposal for approval, BREC flouted its own promises and began issuing Notices to Quit to current small businesses. BREC’s project is currently pending approval by the City and its agencies.

The formal request to halt the proposed development at 1127 Harrison Avenue is available here. 

Click here to download the letter.