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City Council Announces Plan to Use Building for Cambridge Benefits

Cambridge City Hall

After the Cambridge City Council agreed unanimously earlier this year to redevelop the Foundry Building outside of Kendall Square, the city manager appropriated $30 million to complete the project at the body’s meeting Monday night.

Cambridge obtained the 53,000-square-foot building from Alexandria Real Estate in 2012, and initially planned to sell the property to developers. However, facing resistance from Council members including Nadeem Mazen and Dennis J. Carlone—who both advocated to turn the building into a public space for Cantabrigians—the Council reevaluated its use of the building.

The City originally allocated $6 million towards the Foundry Building, but subsequently realized that redevelopment would require a budget of upwards of $30 million, according to a city policy order.

Mazen said the Council began seriously considering a re-working of the plan for the Foundry Building late last year. After citizens and officials formed the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority in November 2016, the group drafted a plan with a larger budget for the building that would provide educational programs to Cambridge residents, particularly in science, arts, and mathematics.

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“All the Councillors and I were in favor of appropriating more money,” Mazen said.

The plan will be rolled out in two parts, one of which was presented at the City Council meeting Monday night. According to a document by the City Council and the CRA, the three-level building is “124 years old and has not received significant investment since 1982” and must be renovated before educational programs can begin.

With this increased budget, Mazen said the Foundry Building would be better able to reach its potential.

“This is a much more holistic, much more responsible, and much more impactful project now that the money is equal to the types of challenges and the types of community impact in the space that we were originally promised,” Mazen said.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the Council took feedback on the newly-marked bicycle lanes throughout the city. Mazen said that drivers or businesses that value parking space may be unhappy with the increased number of separated bike lanes.

“Tonight we heard some business owners saying, ‘Hey, this isn’t good for us, we wanted that parking space, we wanted the old way of doing things,’” Mazen said.

However, Mazen said the pushback has been minimal compared to the number of residents who have advocated for a more bike-friendly city.

“Although we’ve had two or three emails saying, ‘Hey, I’m not happy with the way we’re doing things,’ we’ve also literally gotten hundreds of emails from residents saying, ‘This is the way to go; we’ve been waiting years, if not decades, for this,” Mazen said.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at lucy.wang@thecrimson.com.

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