Foundry building could open in 2020, construction bills rising to $30 million

The Foundry Works Building in East Cambridge will be renovated for a potential opening in 2020.

A renewed plan for East Cambridge’s empty Foundry building could see it open in 2020 and complete in 2021, filled with community arts, nonprofits, maker spaces and job training focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

An amended plan for the building was approved unanimously Monday by the City Council, clearing the way for funding and design work, with construction set to begin around the spring of 2019, City Manager Louis A. DePasquale said.

Expected costs have risen. Previously pegged at up to $25 million for design and construction, the revised plan presented by the City Manager’s Office and Tom Evans, executive director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, now calls for around $26 million to $30 million, with Evans’ agency chipping in $7 million and holding another $2 million in operating reserves.

“Obviously we’ll be coming back to the City Council” for money, DePasquale said, putting the timing for the request for $13 million to $18 million from free cash at around October 2018. “If you had told me a year ago we’d be putting in $26 million to $31 million to this building, I would say, ‘I don’t think so.’ But I am really excited about where we’re at.”

The 37,500-square-foot Foundry Works Building, at 101 Rogers St., would hold such amenities as a black box theater, art studios, kitchen and cafe, an art gallery and 5,000 square feet of space for nonprofits. It was deeded to the city in 2012 as part of a development zoning deal that specified “a preference for its use for municipal or community uses.” The first process, coming after years of discussion, was called to a halt by the authority and sent back to the drawing board late last year; it had resulted in only one submission that failed in the eyes of many to meet the terms of the deal emphasizing public uses.

The problem was trying to hire a single company to design, build and run the site, Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson said. The key difference in the new, better-funded approach: “We really want to have a city-led design and construction working closely with the CRA.”

Officials realized “it wasn’t going to work,” DePasquale said, and that Cambridge had to develop the Foundry to make operations afterward less focused on revenue and more focused on community.

As a result, instead of bringing in a single submission to operate the self-sustaining Foundry after construction, there has been “tremendous response,” Evans said. “Suddenly interest is pouring in.” From the input of the 13 companies – most from Cambridge and Somerville – will come a request for proposals that will craft a business plan and bring in an operator intended to operate long term, with reviews every 10 years.

Because how the building is run will change depending on the operator, the design is expected to reflect the building’s industrial past, “with big-volume spaces that can handle lots of different things,” Evan said. “We hope that we’re building something that’s rugged and durable and adaptable.”

A team has been interviewing experts in theaters and other uses that will be included in the design, and traveling to see similar reuses of industrial buildings such as in Jamaica Plain, Worcester and Baltimore, Evans said.

“It’s been a long road, but I think we’re on the right path,” councillor Tim Toomey said.


One Response to "Foundry building could open in 2020, construction bills rising to $30 million"

  1. HRASHID   Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 1:17 am

    Peace,Security,and Sanity Be Unto You

    It is down right criminal and sinful, how the municipal authorities and others, are trampling on the rights of the homeless sector and mosaic,and other poor segments of our community here in Cambridge. I find it nebulous in the City’s Amended Plan claims that it has been or is playing fair with all of its residents and stakeholders, as of today late September 2017. If you didn’t know it the homeless are residents and stakeholders too. First of all, up until today the City has failed to mention anything about the availability of excess city owned properties and facilities, that could be utilized to address homelessness, in its Annual and Five Year Consolidated Federal Planning. The City is mandated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to declare in these plans the availability of excess city owned properties and facilities, that could be utilized to address homelessness. The unused land, etc. was available, but the city at no time in the past and up until today mentioned it in any of its Annual or Five Year Consolidated planning, as required by HUD. It was and still is required by HUD to do so.

    This is also a violation of the City’s “Disposition Ordinance Section 2.110.010.” The city is on record acknowledging that addressing homelessness is of its highest priorities, if so why weren’t the homeless granted their “Citizen Participatory” rights, etc., when it came to the Foundry Building, and also in helping to formulated, and be included in the use and destiny, of its unused facilities and properties, etc?

    Where is homeless involvement included, not in the Foundry Plan Amendment up before the Council today? Nor is there any homeless citizen participation or involvement, recorded in any of the official municipal records anywhere, related to the ideas and goals, of planning for the Foundry Building, etc. This is nebulous and discriminatory, and can also be looked at as a Fair Housing violation, and the erection of barriers to fair housing here in Cambridge. Also where is it recorded in itemized details the spending of the $6 Million Dollars that the former City Manager, Richard Rossi allotted to the Foundry Building for base building, or initial capital improvements?

    Finally, what about the Foundry Building being used temporarily for the City of Cambridge’s “Warming Center?” The City state’s in its Amended Plans, that it desire to connect or join the Foundry Planning etc, with all of the neighboring development going on in Kendal Square. All that’s being said in and with this Proposed Amended Plan, once again, is “Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY),” to all the poor souls that comprise the homeless sector and mosaic. Thank You.

    Yours In Peace,Security,and Sanity
    Mr. Hasson J. Rashid,
    Cambridge, MA, 9/27/17


    Attachment Size
    HTML icon Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing… not just fair housing, in theory | Homes for Families_ Opening Doors.html 153.29

    HTML icon Consolidated Plan – HUD Exchange.html 32.25 KB


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