Mayor launches new Bowdoin St. initiative
Restaurant Cesaria was at capacity at 7:30 Tuesday morning when
Mayor Thomas Menino showed up with city officials in tow. Represented
around the tables in the restaurant were the banks, non-profits
and businesses that are aiming to revitalize the bustling commercial
strip of Bowdoin Street that runs between Quincy Street and Geneva
“Look at the group we have assembled here today — people
from downtown and the neighborhoods coming together,” Menino
The convening of bankers, business owners and community activists
bodes well for the district, which has seen an infusion of new businesses
like Cesaria in the last few years. Menino says the district is
poised to move to the next level.
The district’s Main Streets organization, working collaboratively
with the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, the city’s
Office of Business Development and Bank of America, is launching
an aggressive new initiative to increase retail activity in the
area. The initiative is aimed at increasing security and storefront
A key step in the latest phase of the district’s revitalization
will be the removal of the steel security grates that shop owners
use to cover their storefronts after closing. The grates, which
are thought to be unsightly, discourage shoppers, according to Menino.
The city will award matching grants of up to $7,500 for storefront
improvements, while Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets will provide grants
of up to $10,000. Separately, Dorchester Bay EDC is offering loans
of up to $35,000 for exterior and interior improvements.
Menino pointed out that the city has already invested $2 million
in the neighborhood, helping local residents make needed repairs
to their homes. By focusing on the businesses, Menino hopes to bring
the neighborhood an extra burst of activity.
“This is self help,” he said of the Main Streets program.
“We’re there at the beginning with grants. But you decide
your own destiny. You pick your own manager.”
During the meeting, Menino introduced Bowdoin Geneva Main Streets
Director Sandra Kennedy to the audience. Kennedy said interest has
been picking up in the organization since she came on board six
“In the past month we’ve had a 60 percent increase in
businesses and residents signing up for membership,” she said.
Department of Neighborhood Development Director Charlotte Golar
Richie, who has lived one block from Cesaria for the last 18 years,
said the changes the neighborhood has already undergone are noticeable,
none more so than Restaurant Cesaria.
“When I come here to eat dinner, it’s a magical experience,”
she said. “The people coming together, the food. This is a
wonderful community with hard-working people who care about their