The call goes out soon for Foundry office tenants, but historic, unique spaces won’t be for everyone
Ads offering space to businesses in East Cambridge’s Foundry community building begin rolling out next week, said Tom Evans, executive director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, in a Thursday phone conversation.
The roughly 50,000-square-foot building isn’t expected to open until next summer, but the authority is lining up the tenants who will take up about 40 percent of the space – the third floor and part of the second – to pay for the spaces below that will be devoted to the visual and performing arts, community events, entrepreneurship, technology and workforce education.
“The most exciting tenants to us would be those who see the value in what’s going on downstairs,” Evans said. “We’d love to see the building integrated as much as possible.”
What that means to possible tenants is that there’s more than just an address to take into account, no matter the proximity of 101 Rogers St. to Kendall Square or the rest of East Cambridge. An office of lawyers or an investment firm might be a bad fit if they’re looking for a building that’s “super quiet” or has a traditionally classy lobby, Evans said.
“There will be some self-selection of tenants who will want to be part of the overall vibe of the Foundry,” Evans said, suggesting that firms in more creative fields might find themselves right at home: architects, visual artists and designers of all sorts, for instance, as well as a tech startup that’s outgrown its coworking space – or an established tech company that’s downsizing physically as more staff avoid Covid by working from home.
Another factor of the “niche market” the Foundry hopes to attract is the somewhat eccentric physical structure of a renovated industrial space built between 1890 and 1910, which could be jarring to a business owner expecting the open footprints of new construction. “It’s not the most flexible of buildings, and not as easy to chop up as the 20,000-square-foot construction of Kendall Square,” Evans said. Still, “there’s probably a little flexibility” in terms of subdivision.
Despite the crucial role the office tenants will play in keeping the Foundry thriving for nonprofits and the arts, Evans said which tenants move in will be shaped largely by a couple of factors: “All the spaces are fairly unique,” he said, and “we’re very protective of the community space.”