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Developer sees new life for former Roxbury bus yard

Since 2005, the MBTA’s former Bartlett Bus Yard has remained a blight on Roxbury — a large empty space that has attracted big ambitions but little money or progress.

But Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation is pressing the city to approve a sweeping plan to transform the 8.6-acre property into 323 homes, a grocery store, shops, offices, a public market and plaza, and new roads to improve transportation in the area.

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In papers filed recently with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Nuestra said its $140 million development, Bartlett Place, would fill a void in the redevelopment of Dudley Square, which is seeing a burst of construction after years of inactivity.

“The proponent intends to make [the property] a destination for Roxbury residents,” Nuestra said in its BRA filing.

The authority is planning a community meeting to discuss the proposal Thursday night, an indication it is moving closer to a vote on the master plan for the property. Even if the plan gets a go-ahead, each of its buildings will also need approvals from the BRA and other agencies.

Nuestra’s development plans have stirred debate among neighbors in recent months.

At one point, a Walmart grocery store was considered for the site, but the idea was dropped after Mayor Thomas M. Menino and others raised concerns about the impact on local retailers.

New housing could create a diverse community with units in at least five buildings on the edge of Dudley Square.

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While Nuestra has not named any new retail tenants, its most recent filing says it is still seeking a grocery store and drugstore, but the retail plan will include opportunities for local businesses.

If built as envisioned, the project’s housing could create one of the most diverse communities in the city.

The units would be spread among at least five large buildings on the site, which is on the edge of Dudley Square near a police station.

The project would include 194 affordable rental and ownership units, and 129 market-rate residences.

Nuestra’s proposal also calls for large concentrations of housing for the elderly, as well as live-work units for artists.

Although the developer is seeking approvals from the BRA now, it is not proposing to start construction until the fall of next year — raising the possibility that a blip in the economy or other issues could further delay the project.

However, Nuestra may be able to ride a wave of building activity in and around Dudley Square.

The city is building an office complex for the school department in the long-shuttered Ferdinand Building, and several new retail stores and civic spaces are planned as part of the effort.

The city has also built a new police station in the neighborhood and upgraded the public library.

Several other major projects are planned on Melnea Cass Boulevard, where developers recently received approvals to build a hotel, dozens of apartments, a Tropical Foods supermarket, and offices.

Another group is making progress on a concentration of large-footprint retail stores and homes at so-called Parcel 3 on Tremont Street.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.
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