Kenneth Guscott, a Boston real estate developer responsible for helping revive Dudley Square in Roxbury, died in a fire at his home on Sunday night along with his father-in-law Leroy Whitmore. Guscott was 91.
Guscott and his brothers Cecil and George founded a property management, development and construction company in 1972 called Long Bay Development and Management Corp. and eventually owned and managed 3,000 units, mostly in Roxbury. In various media interviews, Guscott called Dudley Square the epicenter of the black community when he was growing up and said it was already in decline by the time he returned from fighting in World War II. Speaking to the Bay State Banner about his early efforts to restore Dudley, Guscott once said, “We didn’t care if we made money, we just wanted to rebuild our community.”
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Guscott helped develop One Lincoln in 2003. The project was first minority-developed tower in the city. He also served as president of the Boston Branch of the NAACP as well as a Class C Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and vice president of Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
Gov. Charlie Baker tweeted, “Deeply saddened to hear of the tragic loss of Ken Guscott & his father-in-law Leroy Whitmore. My thoughts & prayers are with their families. For decades, Ken was a major force in Boston real estate & responsible for some truly transformative community development. He'll be missed.”
M. David Lee, a former Boston Society of Architect’s president, called Guscott a “prince of a guy” and said he was "like a father figure." The president and managing partner at Stull and Lee Inc., Lee worked with Guscott over the course of 35 years. “He was a person who really cared a lot about the city and the African American community,” Lee says. “He was a leader. He was socially and politically conscious and he also was a visionary.”
Lee was working with Guscott on the proposed 25-story residential and office tower in Dudley Square that would be the tallest building in Roxbury. Lee said he plans to move the project forward along with Guscott’s family members, including Guscott’s daughter Lisa Guscott, who runs Long Bay Management’s commercial division.
“If Ken were here he would say ‘Keep going’” Lee says. “It would be fitting tribute to Ken to see the tallest building in the neighborhood he loved, in the skyline of the city of Boston.”
Guscott is survived by his wife Valerie, brother Cecil, four daughters and a son.