Porter Square Infill and Small Developments

pixelsand8

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I don't know if there is a thread for this already, I could not find one. There is enough going on here that I think it deserves it's own thread separate from the massive Cambridge one.

This is going behind the Walgreens on White. According to google maps it looks like a nice older housed used to occupy the space;



 

pixelsand8

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Crane up for the Lesely project (better picks coming);

 

RandomWalk

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The house was a near-twin of the two adjacent ones. The three houses made for a nice little example of how a homogenous development can diverge over time.

I seem to recall that the new building is going to look similar to the ex-Long Funeral Service monster on Beech St. That would be a shame, but the details will make the difference.
 

pixelsand8

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The house was a near-twin of the two adjacent ones. The three houses made for a nice little example of how a homogenous development can diverge over time.
Do you know why it was demolished? Was there a fire or some other structural reason or did they just want the land for something bigger? Seems kinda wasteful. Not that the house was anything special but I find it a shame when an older building gets demolished when we have plenty of other open plots to build on.

I seem to recall that the new building is going to look similar to the ex-Long Funeral Service monster on Beech St. That would be a shame, but the details will make the difference.
I kinda like that building on Beech street, though I guess I'm in the minority. The massing on this one so far looks a lot more boring.
 

George_Apley

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Do you know why it was demolished? Was there a fire or some other structural reason or did they just want the land for something bigger? Seems kinda wasteful. Not that the house was anything special but I find it a shame when an older building gets demolished when we have plenty of other open plots to build on.
I think most of the lots around Porter that are open are owned by Lesley, and they have Big Plans™ for an indeterminate time in the future. The issue with Cambridge and Somerville is that there are a lot of nice, old homes, but also a high high high demand for denser housing.



I kinda like that building on Beech street, though I guess I'm in the minority. The massing on this one so far looks a lot more boring.
I like that one on Beech too.
 

RandomWalk

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Do you know why it was demolished? Was there a fire or some other structural reason or did they just want the land for something bigger? Seems kinda wasteful. Not that the house was anything special but I find it a shame when an older building gets demolished when we have plenty of other open plots to build on.
I suspect it was simply the owner looking to maximize the value of their investment in a hot real estate market. The older building only had one out-of-the-way retail unit (recently occupied by Harvard Square Eye Care) and one residential apartment. Three or four apartments would make a lot more money, and if they're condos it would be a bigger windfall.


I kinda like that building on Beech street, though I guess I'm in the minority. The massing on this one so far looks a lot more boring.
If the developer had completely demolished the old funeral home, rather than creating the frankenbuilding, it would have been better. I think they didn't do so because they needed it to count as a remodel, so they could be grandfathered into some of the zoning regulations.
 

HenryAlan

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I don't know what was there before, and it's kind of hard to get an exact sense of how the completed product will look, but overall, this is what the outer neighborhoods need, especially the ones that are near subway stations. Yeah, the old colonials are cute, but they don't bring enough density for a neighborhood on the subway.
 

Brad Plaid

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Agree with Henry. This introduces a somewhat new scale and a better density. It's almost twice the height of the houses next to it and it works just fine. It gives a more defined edge to the shopping center parking lot and even creates something of a sense of urban enclosure which wasn't necessarily there before. This is good evidence of the benefits of mixed scales and debunks the sacred cow of a single scale in a given area.
 

Ron Newman

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Gourmet Express, the 24-hour convenience store and fast-food place at the corner of Mass. Ave and Upland Road, is closing permanently in just a few hours. Everything in the store will be auctioned off on site at 11 am this Wednesday, April 2. The store will be demolished to make way for a 26-unit residential development. Although the new building will have a first-floor storefront, it's unlikely that Gourmet Express will return to the site.

I have mixed feelings about this. A 26-unit apartment or condo building is obviously a better use of land directly across from a subway station .... but a 24-hour fast-food joint is a nice neighborhood amenity that I and other folks will miss.
 

Arlington

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Gourmet Express, the 24-hour convenience store and fast-food place at the corner of Mass. Ave and Upland Road, is closing permanently in just a few hours. Everything in the store will be auctioned off on site at 11 am this Wednesday, April 2. The store will be demolished to make way for a 26-unit residential development. Although the new building will have a first-floor storefront, it's unlikely that Gourmet Express will return to the site.

I have mixed feelings about this. A 26-unit apartment or condo building is obviously a better use of land directly across from a subway station .... but a 24-hour fast-food joint is a nice neighborhood amenity that I and other folks will miss.
Leslie needs to put structured parking behind its building similarly develop its silly little lots across the street from its [former Sears] building.
 

RandomWalk

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I think Lesley may be sitting on the Mass Ave lots until it can figure out a way to swing the air-rights development over the train tracks. Last I heard, they wanted to put dorms in one or the other of the locations.
 

pixelsand8

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I have mixed feelings about this. A 26-unit apartment or condo building is obviously a better use of land directly across from a subway station .... but a 24-hour fast-food joint is a nice neighborhood amenity that I and other folks will miss.
Well shit. I didn't use Gourmet Express all that often but for those times when you needed a Reuben panini at 3am... I'm going to miss it.
 

George_Apley

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Aw man, I used to go there all the time when I house sat for some friends on Mount Vernon... shame that they'll likely get priced out of the new space.
 

mdd

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I don't think i'd ever gone to Gourmet Deli before 2am, but damn, those chicken fingers were a life-saver.
 

kjdonovan

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Since this thread got bumped, I'll just blindly inquire: Have there ever been studies or proposals around redeveloping the parking lot in Porter Square, and adding another parking garage? There are a number of big box parking lots along the Fitchburg track line on the Somerville side that have been speculatively eyeballed for redevelopment (Target, Star Market, Market Basket), but no formal plans. Also, Somerville has done a study on building over the tracks by Porter up to the city line. The Porter Square lot is the most active in the area, and could certainly support more residences, work space, and shopping. Seems like an expensive, but reasonable project.
 

Brad Plaid

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Hotel is an odd looking mash of different elements. Doesn't know what it wants to be. Good amenity for PS though.
 

Arlington

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Also, I think it is time to reconfigure the curb on Mass Ave outbound: I would love to see a dedicated bus lane (or perhaps an island).

The T's "plaza" works too small--the barrier wall "chops up" the plaza in to an "upper" (sidewalk) and a "lower" (random, scattered bike racks and trees).

If it were a bit more organized (a proper MBTA card-access bike shelter, and hubway), there'd also be more room to make a dedicated boarding island, wider sidewalk, and better right-onto-beacon.
 

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