Putting Assembly Row together

Don't Look Down, Beantown ambles about Assembly Row, the new mixed-use development going up in Somerville, likes the way it's coming together:

From materials to patterns, the faces of each building stand out from one another. Planned downtowns like this often run the danger of blending into a forgettable vanilla (nothing planned all at once could meet the eclectic nature of, say, Government Center here in Boston or the French Quarter in New Orleans), but Assembly Row avoids just such a pitfall. It has personality. Particularly the Legal Sea Foods.

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    So an outlet TOD village at

    By on

    So an outlet TOD village at the edge of the city in a neighboring municipality is more urban, pedestrian friendly, and architecturally articulate than the fricken precast office park by the sea known as the Seaport-sorry INNOVATION district. Heckuva job BRA heckuva job!

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    This is what I've been yapping about.

    This was a vast empty lot when I first scouted that end of the Mystic in 2011.

    Somerville is working the same angle as ever.

    You have to also house what passes for a middle class, especially a younger one, seeing as how they are keeping the economy alive.

    Boston imagines there is some endless supply of upper 10% bracket denizens that will surely pick it from all the other options and these swells can also be roped into covering Potemkin Affordable Housing to be doled out sparingly to various cousins.

    Cambridge can't get through these things without a lot of pearl clutching unless some Big Pharma critter is involved.

    Somerville seems to be aware that it won't be anyone's luxury status address and its various cousins can buy their own damned places with the money they are making in the building trades.

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    The apartments at Assembly

    The apartments at Assembly Square were built and are managed by AvalonBay. They are as luxury as anything that has been built downtown in the last 5 years. Any price variation is due to geography, not any sort of affordable housing initiative on the part of local government. FWIW...a 2,100
    square foot house near Davis just closed for $1.2 million in the past few days. Somerville is quickly becoming a hot market and the green line is only going to heat it up more.

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    It's what Somerville isn't doing that counts.

    It isn't being as much as a handful as Boston and Cambridge.

    Market will take care of whether the luxury trim out was a good bet or not.

    Either the trim works or sales stall, price discovery eventually happens.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

    It is funny to watch all the speculations. I was in Dover NH last winter. Old stock housing was still at around 350 a month a room in a 3 br rental. It probably still is.

    Beyond the asset inflation high tide mark is the place where the rest of America lives.

    And there was a surge of speculative building up there a decade ago. Mills were turned to rentals and condos with thick slatherings of luxury lipstick on the old brick pigs.

    But they over built for the price point and then choked on the 2007 recession.

    One can only fabricate so much luxury.

    Good lord, this has been common knowledge since the Roman Empire choked. It will either suck a bunch of rent payers out of older dumps or the mess won't sell til the working price is discovered.

    The capacity expansion in meaningful numbers is the start.

    It will be fun to see how all the appliqued luxury bets pan out over the next decade. Will Everett be the new South End?

    Which subway?

    By on

    Was the Silver Line actually planned to possibly accommodate tracks at a later date? The tunnel seems too narrow. I also don't understand why the roadbed of the South Station to Courthouse tunnel is so bumpy. A ride on a Silver Line bus comes close to causing a head injury merely from the vibrations.

    When they built the Silver

    By on

    When they built the Silver Line they said that if it was successful it could upgraded to light rail (it seems wider than green line tunnels, buses cant make as sharp a turn as light rail), but who knows, we also were promised it would connect to itself, but the two ends still terminate at South Station, and the museums and horticulture hall promised above the big dig (its worth the wait!) never materialized.

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    Buses need more space than trains

    By on

    About ten years ago, the T planned to convert the unused Green Line tunnels heading south from Boylston into a Silver Line busway. It would've required them to demolish the tunnels and rebuild them wide enough to fit buses.

    The truly sad part of the whole Silver Line mess is that there really isn't any point to the tunnel we have. It's wide, but not quite wide enough to allow the buses to accelerate to higher speeds. Which is why buses actually travel more slowly in the tunnel than they do on the surface in mixed traffic.

    And as you mentioned, the tunnel has been in poor shape since it opened. The state of the pavement is pathetic.
    (http://i.imgur.com/kERapnO.jpg - for some reason it won't let me use an inline link for this)

    Not bad for only $625 million.

    You'd think that would come with a warranty, but you'd be wrong. Very, very wrong.

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    Government Center

    By on

    Really. The expanse of endless concrete and dead space is the only example of "eclectic" Boston he could think of?

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    Glad to see it finally happen

    Sorry to see my former short-cut through the area give way to minivans and yet-to-be-lane-trained drivers. Things change.

    Still a more relaxing ride than Hampshire or Cambridge Street, though.

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    My Uncle Elwin

    ..worked there when it was a Ford Plant before shipping out to Guadalcanal, Burma and Saipan and now he sleeps.

    And before that, Amelia Earhart had it to herself as a make shift landing strip.

    It housed First National Supermarkets for a while.

    But it should mean extension of that bikeway along the bank of the Mystic so you may well end up with a decent run all the way to Sullivan. That is what I was scouting on that exploration stroll.

    It looked like they had something staked out for a bikeway extension but needed to finish the big thing first.

    As for Hampshire, it is as awful as it gets but I was able to leverage the Asshole Deli into being a better neighbor.

    They have stopped ignoring the one way street at Amory, there is evidence of more intelligent delivery management and it even looks like the wait staff got lectures about hogging public street parking on Sunday to avoid walking an extra 40 yards.

    That graphic from the media lab about bike accident distribution that Adam posted was the perfect prop for the traffic enforcement staff and my photo collection of goon truck stunts may have been handy.

    So now you just have the 'normal' range of reasons for why Hampshire and Cambridge are bike hell with a possibility of backsliding from the culprits.

    Enjoy it while it lasts as with all things.

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    I don't know, it looks like

    By on

    I don't know, it looks like every other manufactured "downtown" development I seen in California, Texas, etc. Even with the same luxury outlets. Better than a parking lot, but I expect these will be the "indoor mall" of the 2030s.

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    Don't make the mistake

    By on

    Don't make the mistake of thinking that architecture is what gives the community character.

    People give the community character.

    Building spaces for people and complete communities gives character.

    People in Boston suck because they expect this shit to just pop up. It doesn't. Neighborhoods are boring and bland because boring and bland people live there. Neighborhoods are interesting because interesting people live there.

    What they live in doesn't mean shit. Go to Berlin and see for yourself.

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    Some friends and I biked by

    By on

    Some friends and I biked by it last weekend. I found it to be an interesting sight. The streets were filled with what I would describe as the "aspiring immigrant" crowd -I don't mean it in a derogatory way.

    I think that they should advertise the place as "A little slice of Dubai in Somerville". Slick, shiny, corporate, soul-less.

    Or a bit of Orlando North

    ..might work for those who don't know about Dubai.

    While I'm impressed to see a fat thing like this go up in the time it did, it does use the same basic decorated box approach that forms a hellacious bulwark along the highway running from east to west through there.

    But standardization is the corporate way and it does invite efforts to grade its souless-ness magnitude. Expedient money grubbing and soul rarely get along.

    It might be a dolled up luxury version of Soviet era housing anywhere in the eastern bloc during the Brezhnev era.

    When I lived in Seattle, they were building lots of crap luxury high rise stuff near downtown that looked like Tetris blocks. Boston and Seattle are similar in many ways, only Seattle is more honest and earnest.

    All the realty biz types were drooling over the commissions they'd surely make but the 2007 recession blew those dreams up and they became the 'slums of the future' that they were expected to become.

    I suspect these things will drain some the gouge priced old stock dumps from the early 1900s of tenants and the rentiers there may be eating some losses.

    If only Quincy would get its

    By on

    If only Quincy would get its act together on the downtown re-development and get something a little like this.... Instead we get a hole in ground, a developer who left and an incompetent mayor who is trying to get Quincy Mutual and Stop & Shop to help.

    When a large corporation

    By on

    When a large corporation builds a development and then continues to manage the whole area, it's never going to feel like an actual downtown, no matter what mismatched materials are on the building facades.

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    When I looked em up

    . I noticed their headquarters is in Arlington Virginia... the DC Beltway.

    What a handy place for having a finger on the pulse of corporate welfare options with HUD.

    It's probably also useful for lobbying when congress or the fed have the REIT biz in mind.