South Boston’s ‘SoBo’ Nickname Resurfaces, and People Still Hate It

Won’t they ever learn?

sobo south boston

Photo by NabWise on Flickr/Creative Commons / Clever hipster font addition by Madeline Bilis

No matter how you capitalize SoBo (see Sobo, SOBO, etc.), its proper format should really include a giant red exclamation point.

Bostonians were outraged when the New York Times dubbed South Boston “SoBo” in 2013. The outcry has come full circle this week after Boston Real Estate Capital proposed to build an apartment complex called “SOBO Place.” The $10 million proposal would replace an auto repair lot at 55 W. Fifth St. with a 50-foot high, 36-unit residential building.

Joe Hassell, managing partner with Boston Real Estate Capital, didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

“We believe that our proposed project integrates well with its surroundings, both in scale and design,” reads the project proposal. “It will be a positive addition to an already vibrant neighborhood, which is currently suffering from this underutilized eyesore.”

In addition to relieving the neighborhood of said “eyesore,” SOBO Place’s “stylish design will complement and improve the overall look of the area.”

Popular South Boston blog Caught in Southie was quick to respond:

Clearly the developer is not from South Boston, nor does he have any Southie advisors either.  As soon as SOBO (in all caps – like they’re yelling it) was mentioned as the name of the development, it would be laughed out the door.

Others were not as civil.

Boston can’t really act like it is a city above acronames (a term coined by 99 Percent Invisible). SoWa, short for South of Washington, is our crowning example. Sure, a bunch of yuppies probably named that area SoWa. But at least they’re our yuppies…sort of. And that’s the South End.

Meanwhile, South Boston as a neighborhood and community is still ruled by residents born and bred there. They would, as Caught in Southie says, never accept a bougie moniker such as SoBo, especially if it’s a nickname derived from New York’s SoHo and the South End’s SoWa (which, in case you missed it, is having a slight identity crisis of its own these days).

As for SOBO Place, build if you must, but please, call it something else.