Assembly Row Development | Assembly Square | Somerville

Czervik.Construction

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Man, I checked out the Miscela website and $3100 for a 1br on the 20th floor and $2900 on the 8th floor (clears the roof of the surrounding lo-rise buildings)!! 2 br are $4000! In Somerville?? I know, Somerville has changed a ton over the years and I haven't been around in a long time, but those are almost Manhattan prices.
 

Johnnyrocket891

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Took a walk through Assembly Square felt like I was walking through a movie set- for the Global Corporate business development model for waterfront areas.
It just feels Boston is not following its history and soul for the developments are only basing the areas for corporate boxed buildings with some cool angles but their is no culture, or soul that is part of the areas.

Something is missing.

Either that or I'm just old.
 

Hubman

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I mean, you are correct, but it's very difficult for a developer to inject "soul" into a big development that is designed souly to make money. Things change, so maybe eventually, but for right now Assembly is doomed to be a cluster of chain restaurants and shoe stores.
 

MrDee12345

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It's a very long way from it's sarcastic nickname: Slumerville!
Years ago when I was growing up in Billerica, that hack writer Howie Carr wrote an insulting piece about my hometown calling it "Somerville with trees" among other things. For years you could buy bull's eyes in town with Howie's face in it. Nowadays, I wish Billerica was more like Somerville (and our current town rep invited Howie to a breakfast in town to promote his candidacy) Oh how times have change.
 

kjdonovan

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Years ago when I was growing up in Billerica, that hack writer Howie Carr wrote an insulting piece about my hometown calling it "Somerville with trees" among other things.
Part of that is the fact that prior to the 90s, a lot of Italian and Irish families who'd lived in Somerville--and Charlestown for that matter--fled to the blue collar frontier between Rt 3 and I-93 that is Billerica, Tewksbury and Wilmington. The beating heart of those communities is former urban working class who still strongly identify with the old neighborhood.
 

Lrfox

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Took a walk through Assembly Square felt like I was walking through a movie set- for the Global Corporate business development model for waterfront areas.
It just feels Boston is not following its history and soul for the developments are only basing the areas for corporate boxed buildings with some cool angles but their is no culture, or soul that is part of the areas.

Something is missing.

Either that or I'm just old.
It's a still-incomplete development on underutilized industrial space sandwiched between a highway and railroad tracks a few miles outside of Boston's core. It hasn't even been 10 years since ground broke on the first few buildings there. It'd be a miracle for this thing to be ripe with "culture" or "soul" at this point. I have some knocks against a few development decisions, but this a net win for the area and it continues to improve as the build out progresses. I'm not going to start maligning a lack of "soul" until this area is much more established.
 
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MrDee12345

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Part of that is the fact that prior to the 90s, a lot of Italian and Irish families who'd lived in Somerville--and Charlestown for that matter--fled to the blue collar frontier between Rt 3 and I-93 that is Billerica, Tewksbury and Wilmington. The beating heart of those communities is former urban working class who still strongly identify with the old neighborhood.
I remember a lot of my friends parents came from Somerville. My parents were from out of state, but prior to living in Billerica, they were in Melrose. In the 70s, Billerica (and surrounding towns) had lots of cheap land and my parents bought our house on 5/8 acre for $39000. In today's dollars that would be about $200k. Now, if my mom were looking to sell, she could probably fetch at least $550k. Billerica is going the way of Somerville and Cambridge and is losing its blue collar appeal, for better or worse.

Still, Howie Carr is a dick.
 

Czervik.Construction

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I still chuckle at the difference between the Davis, Porter and Inman Squares of my early youth and those same squares of today. I am also still trying to wrap my head around Malden, Chelsea and Everett making rapid changes and attracting new housing and businesses.
 

Life Coach Mike

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Years ago when I was growing up in Billerica, that hack writer Howie Carr wrote an insulting piece about my hometown calling it "Somerville with trees" among other things. For years you could buy bull's eyes in town with Howie's face in it. Nowadays, I wish Billerica was more like Somerville (and our current town rep invited Howie to a breakfast in town to promote his candidacy) Oh how times have change.
I lived and worked in Billerica for 13 years. I know what you mean! It's a town that lost its way long ago and contented itself with being an architectural and design backwater, from commercial, to residential, to government (the present town hall being in the old high school building). The restoration of the old town hall into a fine library was an exception and the restoration of St. Andrew Church in N. Billerica is a gem.
 

MrDee12345

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I lived and worked in Billerica for 13 years. I know what you mean! It's a town that lost its way long ago and contented itself with being an architectural and design backwater, from commercial, to residential, to government (the present town hall being in the old high school building). The restoration of the old town hall into a fine library was an exception and the restoration of St. Andrew Church in N. Billerica is a gem.
Sorry for derailing the thread.

You're right about St. Andrews - it's a gorgeous church in one of the more interesting neighborhoods. When I was a kid, we were always told to stay out of that neighborhood. One time I was jogging with my crossing country team down Wilson street and a bunch of local kids (had to be less than 10 years old) came out and started throwing rocks at us. lol. We couldn't do anything back because we were teenagers, and we'd find ourselves beaten up by the older locals.

I don't live there anymore, but I wish the town had some Somerville or Arlington-esque development. Anything creative gets stopped by the grumpy old geezers who still run the town. Years ago they tried to get the Billerica Mall rezoned so it could have mixed use. Shot down. So instead they remodeled the mall from a crappy indoor mall to a crappy strip mall. Now they want to build apartments behind the mall, but it's still pretty uncreative looking.

There was even an attempt to take a used car lot next to the Concord River and turn it into 25-30 condos with ground floor restaurants. Rejected because it wouldn't be set back enough from the road - "looks too "urban". There is this strange core of people running things there who have no idea how to efficiently use land. They'll green light 25 new McMansions in the more rural western part of town, but a condo building with 25 units near the river and other amentities is too much. Ugh.
 

erom

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Soul takes time, and it takes people. I have a personal theory that with the rise of two-worker families, soul is going to take even longer to form in new neighborhoods- stay-at-home parents were one of the important glues that bound a neighborhood together in the past. That said, Assembly is still pretty sterile but it's nowhere NEAR what it was like even 5 years ago. Far more of a neighborhood now.
 

kjdonovan

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I don't know what the hell people mean when they talk about a place having or not having "soul." Actually, I think I do. It's a euphemism for "nostalgia." Soul happens when you have fuzzy, distant memories of a place... or when you're told about someone else's fuzzy, distant memories, whether they're Roman historians recalling the good old Imperial times or your dad reminiscing about the neighborhood way back when. So when we say Assembly Row has no soul what we mean is that neither we nor anyone else grew up there.

To get post-modernist on the topic, even the little flourishes around Assembly meant to imbue it with character--and that come off as artifice right now--will become touchstones of the soul of the neighborhood for the next generation that is growing up shopping, eating and--yes--even living there. "Remember those funny plaques on the ground that said 'You are Here' in all those different languages?"

To these people, our 2020s-era pearl-clutching about "soul" will elicit nothing but eye-rolls.
 

gac108

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That sounds promising but if they hold onto the property, as it sounds like they might, it will remain a sad and depressing wasteland, even if they do eventually get around to taking down the unused smokestacks. I'll at least keep my fingers crossed for their removal, if not the sale of the property to be redeveloped. I'm sure it would be insanely expensive for a new owner to thoroughly clean up
Years ago when I was growing up in Billerica, that hack writer Howie Carr wrote an insulting piece about my hometown calling it "Somerville with trees" among other things. For years you could buy bull's eyes in town with Howie's face in it. Nowadays, I wish Billerica was more like Somerville (and our current town rep invited Howie to a breakfast in town to promote his candidacy) Oh how times have change.
It's because Somerville has become extremely blue while Billerica has gotten progressively redder. I hate to oversimplify it, but the bluer a town/city is, the more progressive and open to development it is, drawing in more younger, diverse professionals, who have more and pay more, bringing up the values of the homes, schools, neighborhood parks, shops, and restaurants. The more a town stagnates, the redder it gets.
 

Ruairi

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I don't know what the hell people mean when they talk about a place having or not having "soul." Actually, I think I do. It's a euphemism for "nostalgia." Soul happens when you have fuzzy, distant memories of a place... or when you're told about someone else's fuzzy, distant memories, whether they're Roman historians recalling the good old Imperial times or your dad reminiscing about the neighborhood way back when. So when we say Assembly Row has no soul what we mean is that neither we nor anyone else grew up there.

To get post-modernist on the topic, even the little flourishes around Assembly meant to imbue it with character--and that come off as artifice right now--will become touchstones of the soul of the neighborhood for the next generation that is growing up shopping, eating and--yes--even living there. "Remember those funny plaques on the ground that said 'You are Here' in all those different languages?"

To these people, our 2020s-era pearl-clutching about "soul" will elicit nothing but eye-rolls.
You have a point about Assembly needing time to develop soul. Fwiw, I think they've done a pretty good job of laying the foundations for something that can grow and have soul in the future as opposed to a lot of similar developments. Just look at the difference between Assembly and Station Landing.
You can have soul without nostalgia tho. Take the rest of Somerville, there's been a huge change in population make up over the last generation and the vibrancy hasn't been built off nostalgia. It's been built off an influx of creative people and a reduction in knee jerk curmudgeons, Stuff like Bow Market, Honk and Porchfest bring soul but not through nostalgia.
 

DZH22

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The soul missing from Assembly is Good Time Emporium. That was pretty much my favorite place ever. In my 20's it's where I would "go out" when I didn't feel like going out. So affordable, and so many entertainment options. Football games, March Madness, arcade, pool, ping pong, cheap pizza and pitchers of beer. I know it was a gritty dump but I minded my own business and never had an issue. I can't think of a single bigger loss to the Boston area in my lifetime (the Revere Beach rollercoasters predate me).
 

Scott

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You have a point about Assembly needing time to develop soul. Fwiw, I think they've done a pretty good job of laying the foundations for something that can grow and have soul in the future as opposed to a lot of similar developments. Just look at the difference between Assembly and Station Landing.
You can have soul without nostalgia tho. Take the rest of Somerville, there's been a huge change in population make up over the last generation and the vibrancy hasn't been built off nostalgia. It's been built off an influx of creative people and a reduction in knee jerk curmudgeons, Stuff like Bow Market, Honk and Porchfest bring soul but not through nostalgia.
No, creative people moved to a desirable well situated area and made it more desirable still. The locals who get no credit are largely just being priced out of places they actually protected and maintained back in the bad ole days like Davis Square.
 

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