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Cambridge City Council Talks Curious George Store, Credit Rating

Pedestrians walk by the first Curious George store, a well-known spot in Harvard Square that is now closing down business.
Pedestrians walk by the first Curious George store, a well-known spot in Harvard Square that is now closing down business.
By Nicholas W. Sundberg, Crimson Staff Writer

Cambridge City Councillors formally requested that the Cambridge Historical Commission consider designating the Abbott Building in Harvard Square as a historical landmark at its weekly meeting Monday.

The request comes after investment firm Equity One, which owns a number of properties in the Square, announced plans to renovate the building, a move which would displace the world’s only Curious George store. The Historical Commission has previously decided not to initiate a study, but an online petition with over 5,000 signatures helped compel the Councillors to ask the commission to reconsider.

“There are only a few gems that give the really Square character.” Councillor Dennis J. Carlone said. “And in the heart of the square, it’s this building.”

The fate of the world's only Curious George store was on the agenda at the Cambridge City Council meeting on Monday.
The fate of the world's only Curious George store was on the agenda at the Cambridge City Council meeting on Monday. By Tim C. Devine

At the meeting, City Manager Louis A. DePasquale and City Councillors lauded the recent announcement that Cambridge was one of only 35 municipalities in the United States to receive an AAA credit rating. The rating, which the city has received every year since 1999, allows Cambridge to invest more money into projects at a lower interest rate.

This announcement comes as the city begins to issue additional bonds. Last week, the city sold $2 million in minibonds and will sell another $59.4 million in bonds beginning March 1. Those bonds will help fund a number of capital projects in the city, including a Community Complex for Cambridge Street Upper School, sewer reconstruction, and street reconstruction, among others.

Councillors also unanimously approved new zoning regulations for businesses in Central Square.

The new zoning regulations change a variety of restrictions and building requirements in the Central Square zoning area. The ordinance includes new definitions for chain businesses, new requirements for yards and open spaces, and modified requirements for parking.

A number of Cantabrigians and Councillors alike spoke out in favor of the new regulations, discussing everything from the need to improve business development to the cooperation that took place to reach the final draft.

“With the hard work of the petitioners, with the hard work of the neighborhood, things like this can happen” Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen said. “I hope we continue to see that all over the city.”

The Council also approved $2.3 million to finance the design and installation of new fields at Russell Field and Graham & Parks School.

Councillors also discussed the City Manager’s search for a new Police Commissioner. City officials will be holding two public forums later this week in order to learn about qualities residents wish to see in the new commissioner and the biggest challenges facing Cambridge police.

—Staff writer Nicholas W. Sundberg can be reached at nicholas.sundberg@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickWSundberg

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