Bowling alley won't be spared in developer's plans for new residential complex near Alewife T stop

Cambridge officials and residents this week consider a developer's plans to replace the Lanes & Games bowling alley on Rte. 2 with two "multistory elevated residential structures" to be called the Residences at Alewife Station.

The ​North Cambridge Stabilization Committee gets first crack at Criterion Development Partners' plans - which also call for demolishing an adjacent motel - at a meeting that starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the Daniel F. Burns Apartments, 50 Churchill Ave. The Cambridge Conservation Commission then holds a hearing on the proposal at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday.

The project needs commission approval because it would be built in a floodplain. The two buildings would be elevated above a surface parking lot to survive a "100-year" flood. The buildings would also include tanks to store three days' worth of sewage in the event of such a flood.

The Planning Board will also have to approve the proposal.

The new buildings would be next to the Vox on Two apartments, which Criterion built atop what used to be the Faces nightclub.

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    Comments

    In a swamp?!?!

    By on

    This whole area is a reclaimed swamp. Cambridge has allowed development in this area around Lanes and games for several years. Wasn't there enough community push to stop it?

    Does everywhere need a piece-of-crap 2x4, 5-story, fake-luxury rat hole, for dummies to over-pay the landlord far, and jack up the overall neighborhood housing cost?

    Why would you want to live next to a nearly 20-hour-per-day traffic backup on Rt.2, major gunning of engines at the green lights, and drag races at 2am? The Silver Maple Forest is already gone for the same type of building.

    Arlington needs to make sure the parcel on the other side of Rt. 2 is never developed. We need greenlands in the city for people's health!

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    Voting is closed. 68

    Flood control

    By on

    And the maple forest was one of the best natural protections against flooding. So now that they've increased the likelihood of flooding, they're going to build more in the area.
    Remember that statistics like "100 year flood" are based on historical trends not future likelihood with global warming. There was a 100 year-like flood in Alewife brook in 2010 (not 100 year in terms of 24hr rainfall but was by 72hr effects). And of course Louisiana is having a "500 year" flood just 70 years after their last one.

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    and jack up the overall

    By on

    It's a mega bummer that Lanes and Games might get the axe, but...

    and jack up the overall neighborhood housing cost

    Luxury housing doesn't jack up housing costs. Luxury housing is being built because housing costs are already getting jacked up. If building luxury housing alone jacked up the cost of housing, then you could put one in any neighborhood and the cost would go up. You can't. If someone built a luxury housing complex in the South End of Springfield, the overall cost of housing wouldn't move an inch.

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    Voting is closed. 48

    Seriously

    By on

    Say what you will about living on that mess of a traffic jam, claiming that more housing will contribute to higher prices is just too ass backward. The only way to stop prices is to literally "build baby build" and have supply hope to meet demand. If more people "overpay" for them it just means the janky old houses around it will be less able to actually over charge the rest of us.

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    Voting is closed. 66

    "The only way to stop prices

    By on

    "The only way to stop prices is to literally "build baby build" and have supply hope to meet demand."

    That is not even close to possible given the housing market right now. Overbuilding is not a solution. You would just make the area more crowded, just because some people refuse to move to a place that is more affordable.

    This area just isn't going affordable to everyone that wants to live here, especially transplants.

    Building more doesn't reduce rents in cities like this, it hasn't in others. There's not enough land to out build demand.

    Reducing some of the speculation buying for investment would help a little.

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    anon: "This area just isn't

    By on

    anon: "This area just isn't going affordable to everyone that wants to live here, especially transplants." Looks like anon requests extreme vetting of those bloody transplants. Don't they know anon's ancestors came there with Mayflower?

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    No, it's because they don't

    By on

    No, it's because they don't already own real estate here like those that already live here. Those that have owned it for a long time got it at a more affordable price. Your comment is completely irrelevant. You sound like a transplant that is resentful about the high cost of housing.

    There just isn't enough room to build enough market rate housing to make it affordable, regardless of whatever snide joke you want to make.

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    By definition, anyone that

    By on

    By definition, anyone that move here and doesn't own real estate it a transplant. Therefore it's less affordable to them.

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    Luxury is

    By on

    luxury housing is built in the Boston area because construction costs around here are one of the highest in the country. We have unions to protect our workers and give them a livable wage which is great but at the same time when a developer wants to build x number of units and the cost even for sh%tty quality materials is still sky high because of labor, there really isn't an option to build and advertise middle-class quality. The solution is in politics though.

    If you bought land and priced to built a 10 unit building there's no way you *couldn't* not build "luxury" these days with the huge costs involved. The politicians being in bed with the developers isn't helping the situation either.

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    "We need greenlands in the

    By on

    "We need greenlands in the city for people's health!" We need high density housing close to the workplace for people's health. Around Alewife, there are more "greenlands" than anywhere in the Eastern half of Cambridge. You sound like a desperate house owner.

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    "We need greenlands in the

    By on

    "We need greenlands in the city for people's health!" Because bowling alleys are greenlands!

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    :(

    By on

    Sad about what seems to be the inevitable demise of the bowling alley. The ones in Boston proper are overly expensive and often don't offer both bowling types. Plus many fond memories of the arcade, especially back in the 80s. So many quarters into the vector graphics Star Wars game.

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    With Apologies

    They came from the Candlepin alley below Fenway, and I complained.
    Then they came for Sacos in Davis Sq, and I complained.
    Now they have come for Lanes and Games. There is no one left to complain to.

    It is a shame that an iconic, regional sport has pretty much been wiped out by people trying to make things so generic they could be anywhere. Like all developers, they are specifically trying to appeal to people who enjoy regionality in principle but not practice.

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    Almost

    It may be smaller, but the Sacco's location still has bowling...

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    Sacrilege

    Saco used to be a place for people who wanted to BOWL. Now it's four lanes overrun by screaming little kids while their parents eat overpriced pizza.

    Not only did they kill Saco, they are desecrating the corpse.

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    Sacco's has 10 lanes

    Before Flatbread arrived, it had 15.

    They later proposed to expand into the neighboring former auto body shop, adding back 7 lanes, but could not reach an agreement with that property owner.

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    Awww

    By on

    Poor little bunny.

    Never mind that the bowling alley was both ailing and failing before the pizza folks moved in.

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    Boston Bowl

    Always open. Pool / Candlepin / Big Ball. Conveniently located and authentic.

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    Yes it's catering to

    By on

    Yes it's catering to transplants and investors.

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    For you out of towners

    By on

    ften don't offer both bowling types

    That is, big balls and little balls.

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    Voting is closed. 19

    Don't forget duckpin. There are two types of little-ball

    games. I can't remember the last time I saw a duckpin lane in these parts, but it was a popular format decades ago. My little MA hometown had a tenpin alley and a duckpin alley, no candlepin.

    Also, Southie still has candlepin, at the Bowlarama on E. Broadway near Perkins Square. "Bowl: it's fun!"

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    No more Cambridge Alewife bowling

    By on

    And of course, in addition to adding hundreds more vehicles to the overcrowded traffic jungle, I'm sure the developers plan a new road to fly over the towers of apartments down to Freshpond??? Who is getting paid off to allow so many more apartments while not addressing traffic woes??? I worked around Alewife 20 years ago, and had no idea how much worse things could get. Very sad and disappointed. Exactly where are people who don't make a zillion dollars a year supposed to live. Not by a useful T station to support job and school access, apparently.

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    Most walk to the T

    By on

    I work in the area and most of the people living in these apartments walk to the T. There are surprisingly few vehicles coming in and out of the new apartments around Alewife at rush hour. Most of the traffic is because people are driving to the office buildings or driving through the route 2 Alewife off-ramp to bypass the route 2/route16 traffic lights.

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    Another bridge

    By on

    I've heard about plans to build another bridge over the tracks, near Iggys and the other large development that opened back there about a year ago. Don't know if that's progressing at all.

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    Rental prices - yikes

    Exactly where are people who don't make a zillion dollars a year supposed to live.

    I was ready to say they have reasonable rents until I went to Vox's (same developer) available units page - yikes $2300 for a studio in a car haven. And what is with the variable rent. Is it really $1000 a month for a furnished apartment with a short term lease?

    http://www.voxcambridge.com/rents-availability/

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    It's f'ing ridiculous, I say.

    By on

    It's f'ing ridiculous, I say. 2300 pays for a mortgage on a 400k+ house/condo, if you have the downpayment money.

    Sorry, if you're paying $2300 for a studio near Alewife, you're stupid. In Cambridge or in the city, to be next to everything - sure. Alewife? GTFO.

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    Housing will likely generate less traffic than bowling

    Residential uses generally produce significantly less traffic than commercial uses. How many people do you think come and go from a large bowling alley on a typical day? Traffic associated with housing usually has a morning peak and an evening peak, but overall not really all that much traffic.

    Comparing a housing development to a pristine wilderness is not a fair comparison in this case. The current use is primarily an asphalt parking lot adjacent to an old warehouse-style building. Any new construction will likely be far better according to just about any environmental measure.

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    NOOOOOOOOO!

    By on

    Lanes and Games is one of my favorite spots around here! GAW! This one hurts, it really does....

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    Aw man, that stinks! Love

    By on

    Aw man, that stinks! Love that place. Hmmm, are they doing anything with FACES FACES FACES?

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    Um, yeah?

    IMAGE(https://cdn.meme.am/instances/500x/62188816.jpg)

    They tore it down and built apartments years ago.

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    Who the hay

    By on

    would pay top dollar to buy, rent at a place called 'The Residences at Alewife Station'?

    Just saying.

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    It's About Time!

    Everyone wants transit oriented development until it arrives and then we get the same litany of complaints here on UHub. People would honestly prefer the Cambridge Gateway Inn remain there instead? You can smell the musty linens and crippling sadness just driving by that place on route 2. Yikes.

    I think most in Arlington and Cambridge are just surprised it took this long for those two buildings to get torn down. We desperately need more housing stock in the area and it seems pretty clear that if you're going to spend money to live adjacent to the end of route 2 then the appeal is transit access and these people aren't going to be clogging up the nearby roads at rush hour.

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    transit-oriented development

    By on

    This is a joke of TOD. It's 3/5 of a mile to the T along highway access ramps, and over a mile to the nearest supermarket.

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    Voting is closed. 18

    Check it out...

    You don't have to walk on the highway to get to Alewife, there's a path that can't be more than 200 yards that cuts through directly to the station and meets up with where the Minuteman bike path comes out.

    I do agree it's a bit of a walk to the TJ's / Whole Foods near there, but again, you don't need to walk on the main roads to get there so maybe you don't have a good sense of the area? Scope it out on google maps, I'm sure you can see all this on there. It's a comparable distance to what my family walks to get groceries in Arlington Heights if the weather is nice.

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    walk

    By on

    I see the path behind the developments.

    But walking half a mile along sidewalks in a residential neighborhood is not quite the same as walking half a mile along a path that may not be well-lit at night, is likely pretty desolate at night, and may not be well-maintained in the winter.

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    Voting is closed. 12

    Agreed

    Yeah, if I was coming home late at night alone and on foot I would be a little uncomfortable either on that path or on much of the Minuteman path. Plus the fact that that the woods near the station serves as a homeless encampment from time to time doesn't help - not sure if that's the base of operations for the people you always see panhandling at the big intersection at the end of route 2 and at the Mass Ave / Rt. 16 intersection.

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    Voting is closed. 12

    access

    By on

    The fact that the developer is subsidizing a shuttle van to the T says all you need to know about the transit accessibility of this location.

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    Huh?

    My bus goes by there every day. Sometimes through the office park behind there and sometimes on route 2. I know about the transit accessibility of this location.

    I agreed with you that walking paths at night are less comfortable when alone versus being on a well lit urban street, but I'm confused as to what point you are trying to put forth. What are you trying to communicate? That there should not be residential housing there? That it should be there but it's not as good as some other spot you are thinking of?

    I'm not saying it's the absolute most perfect development in the history of residential housing, just that it's an improvement for the area. I don't think it's the best spot to live, but I also don't think it's as wildly inconvenient as you want us to believe for some reason. What's your alternate plan for the space?

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    I'm confused as to what point

    I'm confused as to what point you are trying to put forth

    I think his point is not that this isn't "the absolute most perfect development in the history of residential housing", but rather, as he articulated in his first post on this thread, is that "This is a joke of [transit oriented development]", as evidenced by the fact that the developer is offering a shuttle to drive you to the mass transit station.

    Rocket surgery this ain't.

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    The fact that Saul has never been there

    By on

    Is abundantly clear.

    Look, in the late 1980s, I NEVER had ANY problem getting to that T station from my job, right behind there. I NEVER had ANY problem catching a bus to Arlington Heights from the other side of the crossover bridge.

    Get a life - or, go someplace before you use your keyboard to "rate" it according to your specs.

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    Voting is closed. 19

    ?

    Pedestrian and mass transit infrastructure is inherently empirical, not anecdotal.

    What on earth are you guys so angry about? The rest of us readers still have no idea what has incited your sidewalk and/or walking path related fury.

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    And someone talking about

    And someone talking about their personal experience from thirty years ago is inherently anecdotal.

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    bus stop

    By on

    Wow, I never even realized there was a bus stop along the Route 2 shoulder.

    https://goo.gl/maps/4LN8dVEHwGp

    IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/gPJIsIm.jpg)

    I bet this is one of the T's most heavily used bus stops. Look at those amenities!

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    Look at those amenities!

    Look at those amenities!

    In the winter, they even shovel the stairs on the footbridge so you can still use it!

    Ha ha ha ha ha! Just kidding, of course they don't.

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    Aaaah, yes, the late '80s

    By on

    Look, in the late 1980s, I NEVER had ANY problem getting to that T station from my job, right behind there. I NEVER had ANY problem catching a bus to Arlington Heights from the other side of the crossover bridge.

    Aaah, yes, the late '80s. Are you going to tell us about hanging out at Bunratty's next?

    A lot of things have changed in 36 years. There's a lot of office-park development sandwiched into that area between the lanes, Alewife and the backside of the Trader Joe's development. The flow of traffic has definitely changed, as workers in this office complex are forced to use the Alewife station access road to get turned around onto Route 2 west. If you don't think that's a clusterfuck, I invite you to try it during the evening commute: thousands of people who want to get over THERE while another stream of traffic wants to get over HERE. It's a mess.

    For that matter, since you were around that area in the '80s, you no doubt know that there have been a number of rapes over the years of women using the "pedestrian access" to the station. As others have pointed out, the fact that this developer plans to offer a shuttle (which will add to the traffic clusterfuck) should be telling you something.

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    Alewife was there in the late 80s

    By on

    So was that turn around.

    It is a short walk on a wide sidewalk to get to Alewife.

    No big deal.

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    Did you ever walk it when

    By on

    Did you ever walk it when there are snowbanks? I'm not sure who would be responsible for shoveling the sidewalk between the bowling alley and the station.

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    I often commute and walk on

    By on

    I often commute and walk on the Minuteman, after dark, and even after-hours (been on there at 11pm after a very long work day and yes, I know that 'officially' it closes at 9).

    There's rarely anyone on it after you pass Magnolia field heading into Arlington. It is not lit at all, but we're talking about the bit that's close to the station - that part IS sketchy with all the homeless (though fewer of them there nowadays).

    The path is REALLY well maintained in the winter (cleared of snow almost the same day to the point where I'm annoyed I can't ski on it or take my kid in a sled).

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    How can you walk to TJ's or

    By on

    How can you walk to TJ's or Whole Foods without using the Route 16 sidewalk? There's no other way across the commuter rail tracks.

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    via Belmont

    By on

    Cut over on the path by the tracks to Brighton Ave. Then walk to Concord Ave.

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    Straight-line distance: 3600

    By on

    Straight-line distance: 3600 ft.

    Walking distance via the route you suggest: 2.4 miles.

    I know I'm not walking 2.4 miles with groceries.

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    Ok, smart guy. I was refuting

    By on

    Ok, smart guy. I was refuting the claim that there's a convenient way to walk there without walking along highways. Yes, you could walk via Belmont, but there goes the convenience. You technically could also walk via North Waltham and Allston if you wanted to avoid Blanchard Road and Route 60, if you really wanted to take 6 hours to get to the supermarket.

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    It is a short walk to Alewife..

    By on

    ...along an off ramp. But the devil is in the details as to whether it will be a true TOD, I guess. Will access to Alewife be along the existing ramp, or will there be access from the rear of the parcel? How many parking spaces are they proposing to go along with it? That being said, I can't imagine any use better for this location than a recreational facility, as there is now...

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    There is more to being

    By on

    There is more to being "Transit-Oriented Development" than just proximity to transit.

    Looking at Vox on Two for example, I wouldn't want to walk to Alewife from there unless I absolutely had to. The only safe pedestrian connection to anywhere else is via the path that leads from the back of Vox over to the biotech offices along Acorn Park Dr. Then you can walk along Acorn Park Dr's sidewalk over to the Alewife Reservation path, and from there to the station offramp sidewalk. I don't think the Alewife Reservation path is lit at night, and I can imagine Acorn Park Dr is pretty deserted nights and weekends.

    There's a lot more to TOD that I won't even get into.

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    Huge sidewalk to Alewife

    By on

    Bus stops right out front.

    I used to work over there - very easy, well lit walk to the station. Only one street crossing at the station.

    Get to know the area.

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    Voting is closed. 33

    TOD

    By on

    And if you want to get to, say, the restaurants on Mass Ave in Arlington, or the Capitol Theater? They're just over a half-mile as the crow flies, but require a 1.3-mile detour via a Route 2 on-ramp to reach.

    As far as pedestrians are concerned, this area is pretty much an island. Sure, you can get to Harvard Square in three stops, but you can't even get to the neighborhood across the highway.

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    Get a bike

    By on

    Very easy to wander the area. Easy access to Lake Street and the Minuteman.

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    Easy access? Hardly.To get to

    By on

    Easy access? Hardly.To get to Lake St you'd need to take the crumbling, narrow sidewalk along the Route 2 ramps (which you have to cross in an unsignalized crosswalk), or backtrack via Acorn Park Dr, and then have to ride in those same Route 2 ramps.

    I'm not sure about the jurisdictional legality of riding on the sidewalk there either. I know Cambridge bans it in "business districts" but I'm not sure where exactly the city line is and I'm not sure what Belmont and Arlington's laws are.

    The problem is that the site is hemmed in between Route 2 and Alewife Brook, with no convenient way to cross either.

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    Exactly! It's very isolated

    By on

    Exactly! It's very isolated for pedestrians or cyclists, despite the nearby trails, as it is not very well-integrated with them, and is completely separated from the local street grid.

    Honestly, even as desperately as we need new housing, there are far better uses for this land, and there are areas closer to Alewife that would be excellent locations for some TOD.

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    If it's far enough from the T

    By on

    If it's far enough from the T station that you have to take a bus there, then it's not TOD.

    Not sure where this "huge sidewalk" is though. Please, do show us. Because all I see are the routes that I outlined in my above post.

    And while I have neither lived nor worked in the area, I have been to Lanes & Games multiple times, I have friends who live on Cambridgepark Dr, and I used to frequent the restaurants along that stretch of Alewife Brook Pkwy a few years ago when I worked in Arlington. I feel I know the area fairly well.

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    "We desperately need more

    By on

    "We desperately need more housing stock in the area"

    It's not going to ever be enough unless you restrict buyers who aren't residents or have employment in the area.

    Not everyone who wants to live here is going to be able to at a price that is affordable to them.

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    Oh, so are we finally getting

    By on

    Oh, so are we finally getting housing that working middle class can afford? No? what a surprise! Happy now, anti-NIMBY / build-build-build / cut down trees / anti- open space / easily fooled people?

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    Exactly. People that think

    By on

    Exactly. People that think endlessly building will result in lower prices for them in this market just don't understand how much demand there is for investment. There isn't enough room for this region to be affordable. You just make things congested.

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    TOD

    By on

    What's funny is... developers / city of cambridge keep pushing TOD TOD TOD while conveniently forgetting that the red line is at capacity if not over capacity during commute hours.

    Haven't heard what Cambridge is going to do when they can't fit any more people on to the red line. Anyone?

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    Theoretically the capacity

    By on

    Theoretically the capacity issues will get solved when the new cars being built in springfield come online... but that's not still for a couple years. There's not a lot Cambridge or any single municipality can do about that but stop building completely until then. Even if the cities created some kind of slushfund theoretically meant to go to T-infrastructure (track repairs etc maybe to keep the inadequate number of trains running at least), there's no real mechanism for them to get that money where it needs to go.

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    True. Saying we can just

    By on

    True. Saying we can just improve transit ignores the cost associated with that. There's just only so much this region should can if it wants to be desirable.

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    However, it appears the

    By on

    However, it appears the transit score number is based solely on straight-line distance to transit stops. So of course it's going to score high.

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    Will the last middle-class person in Cambridge...

    By on

    please turn out the lights. Wow, doing away with Lanes and Games?! Cambridge loses more and more character by the day. The present-day allure of Cambridge is beyond me. It's practically an outdoor mall for MIT/Harvard students, techies, and Lexus Liberals. How boring.

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    In all honesty, more housing

    By on

    In all honesty, more housing near the Alewife area is good, if done properly. This, I feel, isn't the case.

    First, don't even get me started on 'luxury' apartments. These are going to be 'luxury' only because they're new. Everything else is going to be complete cost-cutting run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter crap. They're going to charge through the nose for these, shutting out most people who already can't afford to live in the city.

    Second, despite the fairly easy access to the station (yes, there are pathways and sidewalks; they may not be well-lit and feel safe at night, but the option is there) most people will still own and drive a car. Nearest grocery stores and other such places of interest will still be too far to walk to for your average person.

    Third, if the city wants to really make this a more transit-oriented, pedestrian/cyclist-oriented area, they need to do more than simply allow 'luxury' development. Improve the sidewalks, provide better lighting, make the area feel safer at night, make the intersections more pedestrian-friendly (crossing Ringe Ave is always a bitch even with the pedestrian light on as everyone's in a rush to take a right on red onto 16; crossing Cambridgepark Dr in front of Alewife is a game of Russian Roulette - cars just gun it when they see a green light, pedestrians be damned), do something with that overpass to nowhere over Rt2 (connect it to Thorndike field and the bikeway, FFS)

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