What does Central Square need?

One of the reasons we choose to live in Central Square/Cambridgeport is because it has, or is close to nearly everything we need – great food stores, a Radio Shack, an excellent art supply store, our bank, cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Considering the vibrant, creative, and diverse nature of the neighborhood, what would bring the most quality of life to Central Square? I think about this question a lot when passing the huge vacant space at 450 Massachusetts Ave.

For years it was a lovely but crumbling Federal style building. When MIT decided to redevelop the property into a black box theater and retail/office in 2007, the news was greeted with accolades from city hall and dancing in the streets.

Almost two years after the theater opened, the retail space (and office) is still empty, joining the legions of other empty 3000sf+ properties along Mass Ave.

Perhaps the brilliant minds in the MIT Urban Planning department could conceive of something to live here until the retail market (hopefully) improves. Perhaps a mixed use artisan or off-season farmer’s market, temporary artist installation, or even a pop-up store. Please, just something to add to the life of the neighborhood. Thanks.

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6 responses to “What does Central Square need?

  1. Virginia O'Possum

    Are there really no comments, or just a tough screening process?
    Watching the empty storefronts bloom is especially painful because it wasn’t that long ago that bubble real-estate pricing drove a number of unique, local stores out of Harvard Square and the stretch of Mass Ave between Harvard and Porter, as well as Central Square — Briggs & Briggs, Ferrante-Dege, Sage’s, Cambridge Antiques, Surman’s — some replaced by national chain stores that couldn’t survive in those spaces. Now the recession and the changes in retailing are taking their toll. What will the Cambridge streetscape be this time next year? Ten years hence?

  2. An all night diner.

    An independent/quirky movie theater.

    A public performance space along the lines of the Lily Pad, but bigger and more versatile.

  3. a politically awake media center, featuring exhibits, readings, concerts, including a meeting space for activist groups and a media (book, magazine, disk) lending service.

  4. What C square needs is less soylent green 🙂

  5. greengrocer/deli with long hours

    independent pharmacy

    midrange clothing store (like the Gap)

    independent video store (Hollywood Express is merging the Central location into the Porter store at the end of April)

    I’ll second the suggestion for a performance space (though it’s already easy to get a gig at All Asia)

    Cheap food that isn’t a last resort

  6. A sit down, full menu breakfast place

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