Saturday, July 20, 2024

Last week, I attended the East Cambridge Planning Team meeting that addressed the CambridgeSide redevelopment proposal. Since I am in favor of this project and live nearby, I was very pleased that the team voted to support the plan by New England Development. The clear majority of the team realized that this project will transform the mall into a beautifully designed mixed-use retail center while maintaining its most positive aspects, mainly the Lechmere Canal and access to the Charles River. Proceeding with this plan will allow CambridgeSide to continue to be a place to shop and a great atmosphere for outdoor recreation for everyone, including local families and friends.

Clearly and unfortunately, CambridgeSide faces severe challenges as we see stores such as Sears closing, and a potential closing of Macy’s. This has resulted in First Street becoming a dead zone, something that over time will have a very negative affect on the East Cambridge neighborhood. Closings have continued making it obvious that the area must be revitalized.

The CambridgeSide proposal will enhance the retail scene dramatically and create complementary commercial space. Also, it will revitalize First Street and the side streets that provide access to the canal and Charles River. In addition to retail stores, this will attract cafes, restaurants, and other entertainment. Further, it will provide much-needed affordable and middle-income housing. These new residents will have not only have the opportunity to use the area for shopping, but will also offer them employment opportunities.

Finally, there should be a significant, and wholly impressive, increase in taxes paid to the city of Cambridge.

CambridgeSide has been an integral part of the Cambridge community for three decades and seeks to build on that legacy. For East Cambridge, it is crucial for the City Council to approve the rezoning proposal for this redevelopment. There is a lot at stake here for the future of East Cambridge. Approval of this project will insure a healthy economy for East Cambridge for decades to come.

George Sommer, Otis Street