The new Combat Zone?

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  October 20, 2010

"There's still work to be done in that corridor, and there are still vacant lots — some of which [the city] does own, and some of which we don't," says Evelyn Friedman, the city's chief of housing. Friedman says the mayor is dedicated to helping transform the rest of Blue Hill Ave to be more similar to Mattapan Square.

"That's a major thoroughfare for the city," she says, "and we want to make sure that it's as bustling as many residents remember that it used to be many years ago. . . . We don't feel like we're done, but considering how long development takes, I'd say we've come quite a long way."

Nevertheless, there remains a widespread sense of urgency among many residents, business owners, and elected officials. Regardless of what plans are in the oven, or what kind of subsidies might trickle into Mattapan and Roxbury in the near future, for the time being there's a red-light district on Blue Hill Ave, while petty gang warfare continues to claim the lives of wayward young men, innocent bystanders, and, in the case of the Woolson Street execution, a mother and her two-year-old child.

"I have to think about these things every day," says Henriquez, who says he has been robbed three times within blocks of his home. "These awful things unfold every day right in front of my face — and I'm the Democratic nominee for state representative around here."

Chris Faraone can be reached at

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