There is no easy way to say this, so we thought it best to be open and direct: we are writing today to tell you that Urban Edge will not be moving forward with the Jackson Square Recreation Center project. As most of you know, we have spent over 15 years working on the design, operations, programming, and fundraising strategies to develop the Recreation Center and we are as disappointed as you and everyone else in the community that we will not be able to complete the proposed development.
But after an assessment of the growing costs to build the Recreation Center relative to the available financing, as well as the ongoing support and resources Urban Edge would need to ensure the center best served the community, it became clear that it was not feasible to proceed with it.
This has not been an easy decision for us because Urban Edge is aware of the needs of the Roxbury/Jamaica Plain community, especially its young people and the need for recreational space. As a community development organization for 45 years, we know how to develop affordable housing and programming that meet residents’ needs; those are our core competencies. As we ventured beyond that into youth programming and operating a recreation center, we learned that to make the Recreation Center work; we would not only need to build the center, but also commit to significant annual fundraising to provide ongoing resources and support to ensure it was an affordable and accessible community resource.
We remain committed to this neighborhood and to ensure that people who live and work here have similar opportunities to those of their peers in other parts of the city and region. As we move forward, we will engage the community – families, individuals, and organizations – to discuss our next steps on development at the Columbus/Ritchie site and Urban Edge’s role in supporting youth programming and recreational opportunities in the neighborhood.
Over the last year, Urban Edge has broken ground on new affordable homes, opened Walker Park Apartments in Egleston Square, and offered important programming for the community. That remains the core of our work supporting the residents of Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and beyond. While we regret that this particular project will not move forward, we believe it is best for Urban Edge to continue to focus on our efforts on this core capability and work with our partners to strengthen the neighborhoods we serve.
We wish we had better news, but we wanted to let you know that we appreciate the support we have received from so many regarding the Recreation Center over the last several years. We will be following up with donors, stakeholders, and other friends of the project in the coming days to update them on this development and to let them know our next steps. We are looking forward to working with you to continue to strengthen Roxbury and Jamaica Plain for many years to come.
Urban Edge Staff & Board of Directors