Indigo Block, mixed use housing complex in Uphams Corner, opens its doors

Indigo Block ribbon cutting

Acting Mayor Kim Janey cuts the ribbon on the new housing complex in Uphams Corner, known as the Indigo Block. (Photo via Mayor's Office)

The Indigo Block, an 89-unit mixed use housing complex in Uphams Corner, formally opened its doors on Wednesday with a ceremony that drew Acting Mayor Kim Janey.

For some, including Deshaun White and his 13-year-old daughter, the East Cottage Street housing complex offers a sense of security in an uncertain time. After bouncing between shelters for the past two years, White, a single father, moved into Indigo Block this past month.

“I appreciate that we had a chance to move into Indigo Block, to have a stable house—something that my daughter can call home, finally,” White, 36, said.

The project, which saw some delays due to a construction moratorium earlier in the pandemic and the supply chain slowdown, has provided 80 mixed-income apartments. Of those, 44 are for individuals who earn $56,400 per year, and 36 are for people earning $76,100 per year. Nearly 3,000 applicants have entered into a lottery system to secure one of the units, fifteen of which have been filled, according to Detra McGovern, regional property manager for Indigo Block.

The project’s nine first-time homebuyer units and 23,000 square feet of industrial and office space, also part of the project, still need to be completed.

Roughly 60 people gathered outside the apartment complex at 65 East Cottage Street for the ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, including employees from Boston Capital, Escazù Development, and Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (EDC), some of the companies and groups behind the development.

“Anytime that we are seeing more opportunities for affordable housing, or homeownership in our city, I believe it is a great day in our city,” Janey said. “We need to make sure that everyone who wants to call Boston home, can do so.”

Until everyone can afford housing, Janey said, the city’s job to keep creating affordable housing in Boston, where rents have been rising while increasing numbers of residents cannot afford to live within city limits.

Janey shared her own experience living in subsidized housing, like Indigo Block, as a single mom. “Folks who know me know that housing is an important part of my story,” Janey said.

It was through a first-time homebuyers program that she was able to buy her own home, said Janey, who now lives near the Indigo Block.

More than seven years ago, the Dorchester Bay EDC drafted plans to renovate what used to be the Maxwell Box Company warehouse site into a transit-oriented property along the MBTA’s Fairmount Line. The city's planning and development agency gave the green light in 2016.

Keith Greenway, president of the Board of Directors for Dorchester Bay EDC, said that the organization will amp up its efforts to provide affordable housing opportunities to individuals and families in Dorchester.

“Dorchester Bay will redouble its efforts from this point,” Greenway said, “not only to provide reasonable housing and facilitate the development of businesses within our communities, but also to make a difference in individual empowerment and the narrowing of the wealth and income gap.”

Over the past decade, Boston Capital, Escazù Development, and Dorchester Bay EDC worked on developing the project.

Along the way, the project received funds from 16 organizations, in addition to a $100,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation, focused on creating sustainable policy solutions in low-income communities. Dorchester Bay EDC and its partners in the Fairmount Indigo CDC Collaborative won the award in September 2019.

“Especially during the pandemic, to get this building up and running, and have the opportunity to present this opportunity to the community has been a phenomenal experience, and it's a great asset to the community” said McGovern, the property manager.

For White, he and his daughter are no longer worried about having to pack up their things to move to another shelter. Inside his Indigo Block apartment, he said he’s setting up his space for the long haul. “I'm just so happy that I get a chance to be here, somewhere where I can call home,” White said.