News of Constellation Center, maybe park, is due ‘in a few weeks’ after lengthy silence
An announcement about the long-gestating Constellation Center is due “in a few weeks,” founder Glenn KnicKrehm said Wednesday, declining to share further details.
The cutting-edge four-stage, two-organ music and film utopia for Kendall Square was conceived in 1996 and at one time was expected to open in 2012, but fundraising has lagged over the years as KnicKrehm’s painstaking acoustical research has been extended and costs have grown – rising from $85 million in 2007 to $100 million a few years ago to estimates of $300 million given to The Boston Globe in 2015.
With little to show for the plans but a city block of gravel surrounded by chain-link fence, a little over two years ago KnicKrehm said he would create a pop-up landscaped park to beautify the area while he continued to fundraise.
But that was more than two years ago.
Stuart Dash, Cambridge’s director of community planning, admitted the plan had fallen off the city’s radar after a lack of communication from KnicKrehm’s office.
“We were in touch with them last year about the pop-up park and we were proceeding to bring it for a look by the Planning Board, and something got disconnected there,” Dash said Tuesday. “So we’re actually looking back to make sure where they are in that process. We’re expecting to get back in touch with them and make sure that they’ve done what they need to do to put that in place.”
There is no date set for a hearing with the board, he said.
An agitated City Council had ordered a look into the Constellation Center’s lack of progress in June 2013, but its order was eliminated in a mass procedural erasure meant to welcome a new city manager (who has since served a three-year term, retired and been replaced).
Details such as the cost of the Constellation Charitable Foundation’s park and how long it would take to create and open were never known by the city “because it was really supposed to be their project,” Dash said.
KnicKrehm wouldn’t say if his upcoming announcement would be about the park as well as the Constellation Center, though he made it clear that significant news about the performance space was imminent.
“It’s not appropriate for us to go into details right now, but we’re in some important discussions and negotiations regarding Constellation,” he said, stressing that details were in flux, making the timing of an announcement hard to pin down. “There’s a lot of people involved, and I can’t make predictions on all of them, so ‘a few weeks’ would be the right way to say to think about that.”