The Gourmet Express site project will have a large project review in the fourth floor meeting room of 344 Broadway (City Hall Annex) on Monday, January 6, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. “on a proposal to construct 26 units and 41 parking spaces at 1868 Massachusetts Avenue. There seems to be some connection between the extra parking spaces and Lesley University. I’ve attached the CDD meeting notification.
Basically, this review will go over the project plans to make sure that a Special Permit is not needed. If that is the case and a Special Permit is not needed, the discussion about what goes where and how is pretty much over except to the extent that Inspectional Services will still have to approve the building plans and make sure it gets constructed as proposed.
While public comment is allowed at these reviews, it’s not something where the Planning Board listens to public comment and figures out how to respond. This process is much more administrative, making sure the project does not need a special permit.. You can learn more by contact CDD’s Liza Paden directly at 617/349-4647, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The plans for this project are available on line at http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/zoninganddevelopment/largeprojectreview.aspx. On that page you can also see the plans, and certificates of compliance, for two other projects in the immediate area- the former “Bob Slate” building (20 units, 20 parking spaces and 3925 square feet of ground floor retail) and 18 White Street (8 units and 8 parking spaces).
You’ve also probably noticed that the Kaya Restaurant, opposite from Christopher’s, was recently demolished. The actual construction should start fairly soon. You can learn more about that project here: http://www.porterhotelcambridge.com/?page_id=189
And Lesley did, in fact, move the church. You can see a time-lapse version of what, apparently, was an interesting but painfully slow event, here: http://www.lesley.edu/artsconstruction. You can also sign up at that link for construction updates, as moving the church was just the first step of building a larger complex on that site.
Finally, I’m not sure what the status of the legal appeal challenging the St. James/Carwash condo/rehab project is, but, as I understand it, the plan the Planning Board approved would allow 46 new residential units, a new parish hall and a variety of rehab work and changes if the project actually goes through. You can learn more about that project via a link about halfway down this page: http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/zoninganddevelopment/specialpermits/specialpermits.aspx.
That’s it for now. Looking at the projects I’ve listed, it seems like there is a fair amount going on for a relatively short section of Mass Ave. If people want to rethink what the Avenue should look like, I would be happy to help with that conversation. There is no absolute ‘right’ answer as some people look for more density and greater height, especially near a significant T station, while others would prefer things to change as little as possible in an area so close to stable residential neighborhoods. I suspect this new development will drive up nearby property values which, in turn, might encourage people to explore new building opportunities. If you’re interested in having that discussion, a good starting place is probably looking at information from past studies here.