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Development Will Alter Face of Square

News Analysis

By Andrew K. Mandel

Intercontinental's development project may alter the character of Winthrop Square.

The Spaghetti Club--a bar and dance club--will close by next March. Winthrop Square will instead house 12 luxury condominiums and upscale retailers, scheduled to open by the end of 1998.

A wealthy clientele in Winthrop Square could discourage the artsy flavor of Winthrop Park embodied by the many street performers of the area.

Will a traditionally vibrant section of Cambridge wither away in deference to its new, affluent occupants?

Staff of the House of Blues, also located in Winthrop Square, hope not.

"We expect that the new businesses [in Winthrop Square] will assist all of us," said Aidan Scully, general manager of the House of Blues.

Scully said he is "cautiously concerned" about the undesirable side effects and short-term impact--the noise, deliveries, trash, traffic, cleanliness, rodent population--associated with a construction project.

Yet he is optimistic about Winthrop Square's future.

"I am a proponent of change," Scully said. "This will be an aesthetically attractive development."

Others said they are not as happy with the changes.

G. Pebble Gifford, president of the Harvard Square Defense Fund (HSDF), said Harvard Square "desperately needs rental housing," not high-end condominiums.

"We were going to oppose the whole project, but at the last minute the developers decided to move Tweeter's," Gifford said. "We achieved what we wanted to in that respect.

Scully said he is "cautiously concerned" about the undesirable side effects and short-term impact--the noise, deliveries, trash, traffic, cleanliness, rodent population--associated with a construction project.

Yet he is optimistic about Winthrop Square's future.

"I am a proponent of change," Scully said. "This will be an aesthetically attractive development."

Others said they are not as happy with the changes.

G. Pebble Gifford, president of the Harvard Square Defense Fund (HSDF), said Harvard Square "desperately needs rental housing," not high-end condominiums.

"We were going to oppose the whole project, but at the last minute the developers decided to move Tweeter's," Gifford said. "We achieved what we wanted to in that respect.

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