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The Cambridge City Council approved a policy order on Monday evening that will appropriate some $6 million to move forward with renovations to the Foundry Building.
The order was introduced by Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan and co-sponsored by Councillor Dennis Carlone with support from his colleagues Nadeem Mazen and Tim Toomey.
The City acquired the Foundry as part of a mitigation package from Alexandria Properties in 2009, but plans to make space for educational and cultural uses have been stymied by the need for major renovations to the building, which is located at 101 Rogers Street in East Cambridge.
Prior to the vote, many residents testified on the need for additional community space, with some emphasizing STEAM education and others calling for more arts space. In addition, there have been suggestions for early childhood education and tech incubator space.
With this order, the council is moving forward with capital improvements to the building while also allowing time for residents and stakeholders to further discuss programing and development objectives. Earlier this month, the council held a special meeting to review the City's report on potential implementation approaches for the building.
For his part, Councillor Carlone encouraged his colleagues to broaden the discussion by also looking at how the Foundry Building relates to the surrounding area. "Third Street is the main corridor that connects the neighborhood and Kendall to the Foundry," Carlone said. "We have to look at the building's relationship to the new park, as well as pedestrian traffic on Third Street."
To enhance the building's relationship to the neighborhood, Carlone emphasized the need for "a public gesture," such as wider sidewalks or a small kiosk "announcing the Foundry" at the corner of Third Street.
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Last night, residents from across the city showed up at the Planning Board to voice concern with the proposed development at 75 New Street.
After a presentation from the developers and their attorney, members of the public testified on a range of issues relating to traffic, bike lanes, and pedestrian access to the Alewife T station. Ultimately, the board decided to postpone deliberation until another meeting, to be announced.
No member of the public spoke in support of the proposal, but thirteen individuals came forward to complain about a lack of infrastructure, including Cambridge City Councilor Dennis Carlone, who serves as the Chairperson of the council's Transportation, Public Utilities, and Infrastructure Committee. Planning Board members heard a litany of complaints about the difficulty of navigating New Street and the increased volume of traffic feeding into the Alewife Brook Parkway and the rotary.
“Making a [new] neighborhood takes a great effort and the public domain is key, but that’s not what’s being discussed here,” Carlone said. He called for widening New Street to accommodate two-way traffic along with bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and larger trees to better screen the bulk of the proposed four-story building that will stretch some three hundred feet.
Carlone also mentioned that seven different neighborhood groups have contacted him to ask for a citywide Master Plan.
In addition to testimony from Councillor Carlone and members of the newly-formed Fresh Pond Residents Alliance, members of the Cambridge Residents Alliance and the Neighborhood Association of East Cambridge were also on hand to support fellow Cantabridgians in their call for better urban planning.
Thank you to Jan Devereux of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance for contributing to this blog post.
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Cambridge City Councillor Dennis Carlone has submitted a draft policy order resolution with the City Clerk's office, calling on Legatt-McCall Properties and the state's Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to "work together in an expeditious and creative fashion to substantially reduce the height, traffic, and environmental impacts" of the Sullivan Courthouse redevelopment proposal.
Councillor Carlone is joined by Cambridge City Councillors Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, and Nadeem Mazen as co-sponsors of the order, which is due to appear on the agenda for the next regularly-scheduled council meeting on Monday, March 17, at 5:30 pm.
The order comes in advance of tomorrow night's Planning Board hearing at the City Hall Annex, 344 Broadway Street, 8:30 pm. Legatt-McCall is asking the Planning Board to grant special permits for the project. UPDATE: There are reports that tomorrow's hearing will be postponed.
Last week, members of the East Cambridge Planning Team voted to ask the Planning Board to reject the special permit application. The vote was unanimous, with residents stating that the development of a 22-story office tower will be "substantially more detrimental to the neighborhood" than the existing use of the site.
Click on this link to download a .pdf version of the draft policy order resolution on file with the City Clerk's office.