A pretty good crowd comes through Dudley Dough in Roxbury at midday for their huge pizza slices. But manager Luther Pinckney says overall, business isn’t great.

“We’re not struggling, but we’re definitely not making money,” he said.

Dudley Dough was started here last October by Haley House — a nonprofit that runs a soup kitchen and other social programs. Their goal is to pay workers $20 an hour, plus hourly bonuses. But they’re not getting there, because Pinckney says there’s just not enough customers nights and weekends.

“The problem is most of the housing in Dudley is low-income, by far," he said. "And so you have them just not being able to afford anything extra. Not that ours is any more expensive. They just don’t have the money to go out and eat.”

Pinckney says he’d like to see more development in the area that brings people with higher incomes to live in Dudley Square – to help support businesses like his. He grew up here, and he does have some concerns about how that might change his community. But he says some people are going too far in fighting gentrification.

There's no way that gentrification is not going to happen.

“They fight every development, fight every building that might be put up," he said. "And don’t get me wrong, certain things need to be fought and communities need to be engaged. But it needs to be managed and it needs to be worked through. It can’t be a complete blockade on both sides.”

In a way, he seems both resigned and hopeful about the future.

“There’s no way that gentrification is not going to happen," he said. "I mean, it’s already in full swing. It’s a matter of managing it, again, so that the people who are in that community aren’t disrespected, totally lost.”

It’s a challenge that city planners are trying to tackle with meetings like one held recently at the Boys and Girls Club near Dudley Square. About a half dozen community members and several city planners sat around a table with a map of the Dudley Square neighborhood in front of them, as several other tables did the same. And they had a bunch of poker chips. The goal of the exercise was to come to some agreement on what kind of developments should go on each of five different city-owned properties — and mark that with different colored poker chips.

“I’d certainly like to see home ownership that is also subsidized home ownership," said one of the community members.

"And that requires three market rate chips to support it,” said a moderator from the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

Here’s where things get controversial. The rules say for every chip they put down signifying subsidized, low-income housing, they have to put down three chips in the same spot representing more expensive, market-rate housing. But a few at the table, including Michael Prentice, a local community activist, didn't like those rules. He asked why that much market-rate housing was necessary.

“Are we in a rush? Why are we in a rush?" Prentice asked. "If the market-rate unit ... if we can’t find a sustainable way to do it on your model, why can’t we take our time and find other ways to do it?”

They're bringing in, you know, wealthier students, wealthier white people, wealthier people who are not from this area. We are capable of building up economic diversity here.

Sue Sullivan, who runs an association of businesses in the area, chimed in.

“There is a rush," she said, "if we want to get in on an economic cycle that we have now.”

It’s an idea that’s echoed by city planners. The economy is good right now, and that means now is the time to create developments. Prentice, the community activist fighting gentrification, says he’s not against the idea of Dudley Square being a mixed-income community. It’s how the city plans to get there that he disagrees with.

“They’re bringing in, you know, wealthier students, wealthier white people, wealthier people who are not from this area," he complained. "We are capable of building up economic diversity here.”

Prentice and some others at the meeting were angry about a big residential building that’s already been approved for the square. Of the 700 units at the so-called Tremont Crossing development, about 100 of them are set aside for low-income housing.

John Barros, the chief of economic development for the city, said the money that market-rate units bring in is the only way the city can pay for the low-income subsidies.

“Because we don’t have the help and support of federal government to continue our affordable housing growth,” Barros said.

Also, Barros said they have to ask the question — just how much subsidized, affordable housing is good for a community? He said evidence shows mixed-income communities are better for everybody.

“So that means when we look at individual developments, that we’re trying to make sure they make sense for the overall stock of housing in that neighborhood," Barros said. "And in a neighborhood where you have 75 percent of all units being affordable and subsidized, then that creates a different challenge for what the new developments should be bringing.”

Barros calls Dudley Square the heart of Boston. And as planners struggle to find that balance, all across the city, between subsidized, affordable housing and market-rate homes that bring money and changes to communities, he says Dudley Square is an indicator of what kind of city Boston is going to be.