IQHQ Alewife | WR Grace Parcel | Alewife

Arlington

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It appears that the Alewife parcel in question (Jerry's Pit / Jerry's Pond), is ~21 acres and known as 1R-3R Alewife Brook Parkway and is still owned by WR Grace (via "Alewife Land Corporation")

The WR Grace asbestos bankruptcy was famously long (2002-2014), so that probably accounts for half of the 20 years it's sat as you watched. Hard to say who'd still have Superfund liability at this point, but I suspect that's why not a hair of it has been touched.

It appears that the curb cut that was just erased was for the gate/drive to access 1R Alewife Brook Parkway (presumably 3R is the mail address of north end of the parcel)
 

Equilibria

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From a couple of weeks ago:

Alewife plan omits bridge over train tracks eyed by City Council for dozen-plus years

On the one hand, it makes some sense not to leverage an entire area plan on infrastructure that may or may not come to exist. On the other hand, it's a pedestrian bridge - not exactly the world's most expensive infrastructure item.
Wow, do the City staff sound like idiots here. "Assembly Square"? "Reclaimed Jerry's Pond"? There are buildings going in RIGHT NOW. You don't need a pie-in-the-sky visioning study, you need to figure out how you're going to accommodate the development you're already seeing.
 

JumboBuc

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This might deserve its own thread, but life sciences developer IQHQ is buying the 26-acre GCP Applied Technologies (formerly W.R. Grace) property for $125 million. This appears to include all the private land east of Alewife Brook Parkway between Whittemore and Rindge Aves, including the buildings on Whittemore, surface lots, and Jerry's Pond.


If life sciences money is enough to clean up and activate (or redevelop) Jerry's Pond, that'd be a win.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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This might deserve its own thread, but life sciences developer IQHQ is buying the 26-acre GCP Applied Technologies (formerly W.R. Grace) property for $125 million. This appears to include all the private land east of Alewife Brook Parkway between Whittemore and Rindge Aves, including the buildings on Whittemore, surface lots, and Jerry's Pond.


If life sciences money is enough to clean up and activate (or redevelop) Jerry's Pond, that'd be a win.
Color me skeptical. No one has touched Jerry's Pit in half a century because of the cleanup chores and an unwilling landowner...and while the latter may have changed now the former is still a big sticking spot. Second is that the City is going to have major say in this dev being on the side of the street abutting all the public housing and all the rec areas thoroughly used by the public housing, so it's comparatively a much bigger intrusion to have lab-space suits and their lot/garage traffic on a sidewalk corner that's filled all daylight hours with young children going to the park. I can speak as a former resident of the neighborhood and say I'm uncomfortable with this on-spec and need to see a lot more details about how the traffic clash is going to be managed. I can't imagine what the shoot-first/ask-questions-later City Hall meetings are going to leap to.

Also: it's Alewife. I don't even need to see first renders to know this is going to be a car-centric hellhole that very much does clash with the surrounding residential. Because it's Alewife...and everyone who touches Alewife has a brainslug firmly attached to the once-functioning part of their grey matter that used to be able to conceptualize functional transportation meshing. It's fucking hexed. 👾
 

vanshnookenraggen

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Also: it's Alewife. I don't even need to see first renders to know this is going to be a car-centric hellhole that very much does clash with the surrounding residential. Because it's Alewife...and everyone who touches Alewife has a brainslug firmly attached to the once-functioning part of their grey matter that used to be able to conceptualize functional transportation meshing. It's fucking hexed. 👾
It has to be cursed. I'll never understand how Cambridge can do infill so well and then ALWAYS drop the ball here.
 

George_Apley

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How much of that could be the needed coordination with the state for dealing with the parkway that runs through the gut? Does Cambridge just not bother doing good planning there because they don't have jurisdiction over the arterial roadways?
 

JumboBuc

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Also: it's Alewife. I don't even need to see first renders to know this is going to be a car-centric hellhole that very much does clash with the surrounding residential. Because it's Alewife...and everyone who touches Alewife has a brainslug firmly attached to the once-functioning part of their grey matter that used to be able to conceptualize functional transportation meshing. It's fucking hexed. 👾
It has to be cursed. I'll never understand how Cambridge can do infill so well and then ALWAYS drop the ball here.
I agree, but I'd also note that if any parcel in the Alewife area is to "do better," it is this one.

By its location on the "right" side of Alewife Brook Parkway it stands to be much better integrated into its surrounding urban environment than those projects siloed off on Cambridge Park, Acorn Park, or literally fronting Rt 2. And the all the stuff off of Concord Ave behind Trader Joe's is also siloed, plus a good two-thirds of a mile farther (minimum) from the T platform by foot than this is.

Cambridge Park & Acorn Park Drives are such a lost cause that anything proposed for those areas is sure to be garbage, even if the best designers are working on it. The W.R. Grace site has way more potential.
 

JumboBuc

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How much of that could be the needed coordination with the state for dealing with the parkway that runs through the gut? Does Cambridge just not bother doing good planning there because they don't have jurisdiction over the arterial roadways?
Cambridge's planning at Kendall and "Cambridge Crossing" hasn't been great, either. My read is that Cambridge knows how to work with infill and the retro-fitting of existing established neighborhoods, but is pretty clueless when it comes to planning new neighborhoods from whole cloth.
 

Arlington

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The 26 acres = open (pond & paved) ~21 acres and known as 1R-3R Alewife Brook Parkway and the other 5 acres are the buildings and lots along Whittemore Ave. I've scribed a red line around what I think is the total set of sub-parcels.

GCP-Site.PNG
 

Equilibria

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Cambridge doesn't plan well at Alewife because it's on the edge and they don't care. Same applies to Cambridge Crossing. Both are chances for tax grabs that don't touch existing neighborhoods or squares. Alewife comes with the added benefit of mostly screwing up traffic coming into Cambridge, rather than traffic within Cambridge.

FWIW, this site has major road access problems. Whittemore Avenue hits the Parkway with only EB access, the driveway to the Alewife access loop is obviously limited, and every other access point is either a residential street. If this were SimCity you'd just demolish everything between Harvey Street and the Community Path and punch that road through to Route 2 with an expanded ROW, but well, we don't live in SimCity (and thank goodness).

I think the most we'll see from this for a while is retrofitting the existing office buildings and light industrial for life sciences and jacking up the rent. Basically what FRIC is doing with the Assembly Square KMart.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Ironically I drove by this very spot about 4 hrs. ago when out running errands. Stopped at the Rindge light on the parkway. I see 8 kids...not a one of them over 11 years old...waiting patiently for the crosswalk sign to cross from the park to the apts. side of the road. And I'm looking at those kids thinking, "They can't build a garage on that parcel...it's D.O.A. the second it gets in front of the City." Then, immediately after, "They don't know how to build anything here without a garage; it's D.O.A., period."

So, yeah...manifold challenges with that site.

Cambridge Park & Acorn Park Drives are such a lost cause that anything proposed for those areas is sure to be garbage, even if the best designers are working on it.
So minutes earlier I'm on 2E passing the dusty road construction site on the Lake St. exit median...Vox looming in the distance like the Angel of Death. Some auto glass replacement truck parked right off the first curb cut floors it blindly in reverse out of the first striped space in the lot straight into the highway right lane...clipping the lane divider of the center lane before careening to a stop. With such force that it lifted the rear right wheel clean off the road and had the whole truck tipping--panes of auto glass and all--towards the center lane. I swerve it into the left, thanking Satan that traffic was light because otherwise my life would be flashing before my eyes before the panes of falling auto glass tore through my windshield and decapitated me. Just as I'm passing the driver nonchalantly kicks it in gear and starts ambling towards the Alewife ramp.


Burn it down. All of it. To the ground. And let me stand over the smouldering Vox-smelling ruins and evil-laugh while roasting marshmallows over its still hot embers.

 
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JumboBuc

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And that ^ ladies and gentlemen is why Vox on Two won Worst Completed Development of 2019.
What kills me about those Route 2 fronting projects is that they all could have been flipped around to front Acorn Park / Discovery Way instead of the highway. That is, they could all be positioned as the "AC Hotel by Marriot" is. That would have allowed for some nice 14-ft sound barriers to separate the buildings from Route 2 instead of driveways. Setting this up would have taken some coordination with abutting landowners, but it was eminently doable if the City had bothered to put plans together circa 2008.

FWIW, this site has major road access problems. Whittemore Avenue hits the Parkway with only EB access, the driveway to the Alewife access loop is obviously limited, and every other access point is either a residential street. If this were SimCity you'd just demolish everything between Harvey Street and the Community Path and punch that road through to Route 2 with an expanded ROW, but well, we don't live in SimCity (and thank goodness).
I know F-Line has put together a sketch of realigning Cambridge Park Drive to the S to bring it into a 4-way intersection with Ringe, thus eliminating one of the two lights along that section of Alewife Brook Parkway. If remediation of Jerry's Pond is in the cards, then Rindge could also possibly be shifted N for the same purpose. This could also solve your access problem, as the realigned Alewife Brook Parkway / Cambridge Park Drive / Ringe Ave intersection could be your primary access point.

Alternatively, if cleaning and filling Jerry's Pond is in the cards, I could imagine it getting the Danehy Park treatment and being converted to athletic fields. The City could easily get two full size football fields there and the developer could get Russell Field in exchange.
 

stick n move

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Has there been any movement on that half assed master plan type deal they released a couple years ago showing how they wanted to attempt to clean up the messy road layout?

I believe this is the plan?
Envision Cambridge Alewide district plan











 
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F-Line to Dudley

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FWIW...it was this gravel lot (now paved and striped), space abutting the sidewalk, where the idiot auto-glass driver did a squealing reverse clear out of the curb cut coming to a rest on top of the lane stripe overspilling the center lane...right at the too-tight merge from Lake St. just to make it an extra-special Darwin Award candidacy. This annex lot doesn't even have the (wholly inadequate-geometry) turnouts of the main driveway...it's just a straight right-angle dump from a dead stop into the killzone merge. And this guy did the blindest-possible surprise move from that space onto the 2 mainline through the zero-notice cut...then sat there motionless with his reverse lights on overspilling the center lane before changing gear with all the urgency of someone enjoying a sip of iced Dunks between moves.

This is Vox's big 'enhancement' for 2020. As if it weren't already wearing the crown-o'-shit, they somehow found one remaining tweak up their sleeves to make it infinitely, lethally worse. And sneak it under-radar as a COVID-months job.

This truly is the antichrist development.
 

Charlie_mta

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No one has touched Jerry's Pit in half a century because of the cleanup chores....
Ha ha, I used to swim in Jerry's Pit when I was a kid before the nearby swimming pool on Rindge Ave was built. Oh yeah, and I lived right across the tracks from the old city dump that used to literally catch on fire in the summer quite often and was full of toxic waste dumped there by the local chemical companies. So I probably breathed in some of those fumes. But I'm healthy as a horse at 70 so I can't complain.
 

RandomWalk

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The whole area around Harvey/Jackson/Clay was slated to be leveled for the Inner Belt. It was spared, and the residents now will explode at the slightest change to the neighborhood.

I expect anything built is going to involve the Alewife ramp as it’s primary access, which will exacerbate the existing traffic mess.
 

Equilibria

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The whole area around Harvey/Jackson/Clay was slated to be leveled for the Inner Belt. It was spared, and the residents now will explode at the slightest change to the neighborhood.

I expect anything built is going to involve the Alewife ramp as it’s primary access, which will exacerbate the existing traffic mess.
It's worth noting, though, that there are development and employees there now. I'm not sure that this isn't just going to be use conversion as opposed to major construction or densification.
 

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