It only takes about 30 seconds of conversation to understand that Nayomi Dowman loves living at Flat 9 at Whittier.
And there is a lot to love.
Two of the three phases of this 316-unit apartment community are complete and the third is under construction. The sleek, clean lines of the new buildings stand out on this corner across from the Ruggles MBTA stop, Northeastern University and the Boston Police Headquarters.
It is a stark contrast to what was here before. Flat 9 at Whittier is being built on the site of the Whittier Street Apartments, a dated and worn 1950s-era public housing complex. The developer is Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH).
Nayomi is a new resident, although she previously lived nearby and was familiar with the area. She says the redevelopment holds great meaning for the residents of the neighborhood. "This is very important," she said. "Residents from the 'old Whittier' can now reinvest themselves in our thriving community and updated space!"
Many residents of the 'old Whittier' have returned. Others are new to the property but not necessarily to the neighborhood.
Nayomi and her husband are raising three children, and Flat 9 at Whittier provides several benefits. "There is a brand-new state-of-the-art playground right outside our apartment, and I can sit and watch the kids play," she noted. "The courtyard with the playground is enclosed, so I can let them run around and explore."
Nayomi loves the neighborhood, not only for the city amenities such as proximity to transit, restaurants, shopping, schools and more, but also because of the culture. She speaks from the heart about her community.
"I love Roxbury. Roxbury is pure and intentional. The roots here are set, and deep. I’m a Latina woman with a Black husband and Black children. Being in Roxbury is the best it can be. I am so glad that MassHousing and others chose to invest in Roxbury, a majority-Brown neighborhood. I love to see reflections of myself and my family.”
Nayomi appreciates the new buildings, with their updated architecture, contemporary spaces and decorative touches, many of which are inspired by jazz music. "I love the shapes, the vibes. It creates an ambience," she says. "I love these geometric chairs. I love the courtyard, the climbing structure."
As a mother of young children, Nayomi is keenly attuned to her surroundings, vigilant about how they affect her family. Flat 9 at Whittier meets with her approval. "It is quiet, we are safe."
When asked how future housing in Roxbury and Boston should be developed, her choice of words echoed a sentiment that seems to pervade this newly built neighborhood.
"Lead with love," she said.