March 2, 2006– Vol. 41, No. 29

Mayor launches new Bowdoin St. initiative

Yawu Miller

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 Avenue.

“Look at the group we have assembled here today — people from downtown and the neighborhoods coming together,” Menino said.

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 improvements.

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 months ago.

“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 community.”




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