Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Planning Board will once again examine and take public testimony Tuesday on a proposal by European investors to build a “boutique hotel” on top of and in back of perhaps the most historically significant building in Central Square, the so-called Gas-Light Building, at 711-727 Massachusetts Ave. at Temple Street.

This proposed expansion includes plans to fill in the loading and parking alley behind the building with an entrance to the hotel, with hotel rooms above, crowding the apartments behind it by building right up to the property line.

Those apartments are at 5 Temple Place, a 100 percent affordable housing building owned and managed by the Cambridge Housing Authority, many of whose residents are elderly and some of whom are disabled. In this period of rising awareness and concern about acts of Anti-Asian violence in America, it should be noted that several of the families living on the side of 5 Temple Place where the hotel addition would tower over them are elderly Chinese-Americans. Some are as old as 95. Some can no longer go out of their apartments due to serious health challenges. Their apartments would literally be overshadowed were this unnecessary boutique hotel allowed to be built in the manner proposed. They will lose privacy, light, air and of course reasonable views – in addition to essential sunlight – possibly for the rest of their lives.

All for a “boutique hotel.”

People who live in affordable housing in Cambridge deserve better. Our forgotten and overlooked neighbors who struggle with modern technologies and language and other cultural challenges to participate and be heard deserve to be respected and protected. I invite my fellow citizens to show up online and support our beleaguered neighbors at 5 Temple Place at the Planning Board’s public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Materials submitted by the investor-proponents, including a recent shadow study that illustrates the damage that would be done if allowed can be found at

Please attend.

James Williamson, Jefferson Park