Neighbors gather to hail openings of Carruth Building, Wainwright Bank

Pictured at ceremonies on Saturday at The Carruth are (from left:) Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, Renie Smith of City Council President Feeney's office, Liliana Sanchez, Wainwright senior vice president, Chris Douglass of Tavolo, Patrick Lee EVP Trinity Financial, Mayor Menino, Jim Keefe President Trinity, Evelyn Friedman, Chief of Dept of Neighborhood Development and Bill Richard, president of the board of directors of St. Mark's Area Main Streets. By Bijoyeta Das.

Mayor Thomas Menino was in the Ashmont neighborhood last Saturday at noon time to officiate at two ribbon-cuttings to mark the openings of the Carruth Building, and the adjacent branch office of Wainwright Bank.

A gathering of more than 50 neighborhood activists and other residents cheered as the mayor presided over the ceremony celebrating the Carruth, an innovative "transit-oriented development" with 116 units of mixed income housing and 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail space on Dorchester Avenue, adjacent to the MBTA's Ashmont Station.

After that ceremony, Menino walked a few yards up Dorchester Avenue to preside over a similar event to officially open the 12th office of Wainwright Bank. The bank shares retail space with Flat Black Coffee, a six-year-old neighborhood business with two other stores in Lower Mills and downtown Boston.

The development is a project of Trinity Financial, which developed and owns the building under the terms of a long-term ground lease with the MBTA. Construction began in August 2006 and was largely completed earlier this year, while the rebuilding of the adjacent MBTA station remains about one year from completion.

The complex is the home of a new pizza restaurant, Tavolo, operated by Boston restaurateur Chris Douglass, of the South End's Icarus and the Ashmont Grill on Talbot Avenue in nearby Peabody Square. Also in new locations in the retail space are At Home Real-Estate and the St. Mark's Area Main Street Office (SMAMS).

"This development sets the standard for all transit-oriented development - new businesses and housing right next to a major T station," said Menino. "Developments like this help stimulate the economy in these hard economic times."

The Carruth Building is approximately 185,000 square feet, is constructed on a parcel previously used for MBTA buses and temporary parking. The development has an 85-year ground lease between Trinity Financial and the MBTA. The building is a six-story structure with one floor of neighborhood retail and five stories of housing, and includes one level of below-grade parking with 80 spaces.

The local Main Streets organization, St. Mark's Area Main Street (SMAMS), spearheaded a community planning effort focused around Peabody Square, securing planning funds from the City of Boston for a series of design meetings and community It was also instrumental in bringing Wainwright Bank and Flat Black Coffee together to share an innovative new space in the front of the Carruth Building.

Funding for the Carruth building was made possible though a variety of funding sources including $1,750,000 in Department of Neighborhood Development HOME Funds and $750,000 in Neighborhood Housing Trust Money. Additionally, the Office of Business Development's Neighborhood Restaurant Initiative provided Tavolo with $110,000 in CDBG loans. The Office of Business Development developed the Neighborhood Restaurant Initiative as a way to facilitate the development of a number of full service restaurants in the city's neighborhood commercial districts.