The historic former Ferdinand Furniture store building in Boston’s predominantly-Black Roxbury neighborhood will soon open its doors as the brand new Jazz Urbane Café, a sit-down restaurant and performing arts space that will feature local musicians and other artists. It’s the kind of cultural and community gathering space that residents in the area have dreamed of for years. What makes this project unique is that the community didn’t just say it wants Jazz Urbane; it voted to put some of its own wealth at risk for the business. To get to this outcome, the community had to overcome a history of racial discrimination and disinvestment in this neighborhood. It hasn’t been a linear process to revitalize the former Ferdinand Furniture storefront, but there has been a common thread tying the pieces together: neighborhood, city and investors learning to trust each other as equal participants in the development process. The neighborhood had ideas and aspirations; the city took them seriously. With the investment of community funds, the community will also receive a share of the wealth generated if it all works out.

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