Banton St. development fills in one of Ashmont's 'missing teeth'

As work gets under way later this month on those other two big projects in Peabody Square, businesses are preparing to move into a new development at the corner of Banton Street and Dorchester Ave.

The lot that lay empty on the corner of Banton Street and Dorchester Avenue for more than twenty years is now the home of a three-floor development that includes twelve rental luxury apartments and four commercial spaces on the ground floor that have already been leased. As soon as the building passes final inspection, businesses plan to open.

Tony Dang plans to open an internet café. His store will feature specialty Asian foods like "Bubble tea," an Asian-style fruit shake he claims is the newest craze to hit the beverage market. The café will also offer internet access complete with comfortable couches, making it a perfect spot to sit and relax after a long day at work and catch up on community gossip with fellow neighbors.

"I want to provide a living room environment so that people in the neighborhood will want to come in and feel at ease to watch the news, or use the internet, or just talk to one another," says Tony Dang. "These retail stores will only bring the neighborhood closer together," he adds.

The three additional commercial spaces planning to move in to the new development include JXD Furniture, a furniture store specializing in kids furniture; Your Style Clothing Store; and Finnerty Insurance Agency, which is currently located across the street on Dorchester Avenue.

"We are really happy about all of these stores going in. It's exactly what the neighborhood's been asking for. We all want to see stores that will create more foot traffic around the area, and retail does that," says Dan Larner, President of Saint Mark's Area Main streets.

"Before this new building went up, these empty lots were like missing teeth in the neighborhood," says Julie Simmons who works for the local Jack Conway Real Estate Agency and is also a member of the Economic Reconstructing Committee for SMAMS.

Dang grew up around Peabody Square and looks forward to businesses that will allow neighbors to stay in Dorchester to soak up some creature comforts. "I think these stores provide a stopper environment in the community. Growing up, I didn't see that. Everyone usually goes outside of Dorchester and into Boston to get a dose of relaxation with their cup of coffee, but now they won't have to," says Dang.

Jeff Gonyeau, board member of SMAMS looks forward to all the changes expected to take place as early as next month. "Many people never thought they would see the day that Banton Street would be developed. The businesses can only do well when the neighborhood has stated over and over again that this is what they want," he says.