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.