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Arsenal Mall to be transmogrified in that no man's land between Cambridge and Boston

Proposed Arsenal Yards

Architect's rendering.

The owners of the Arsenal Mall, um, Project, today announced plans for a major revamp that will turn the old Army complex turned shopping mall into one of those new mixed-use residential/commercial/office complexes that are all the rage these days.

For those unfamiliar with the location of the new Arsenal Yards, its Web site pinpoints it as being "where Cambridge meets Boston."

OK, a press release from the developers does mention Watertown as the home for the planned 500 residences, 350,000 square feet of retail space and 100,000 square feet of office space.

This new community in Watertown’s East End will bring vibrancy of the city and an urban energy along with the convenience and warmth of a suburb. ...

Arsenal Yards is an all-in-one neighborhood destination for active people looking for the perfect place to meet up with friends and neighbors, take in a movie, grab groceries, share a drink, meet for breakfast or lunch, or settle in for dinner.

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Comments

uh yeah...brilliant!

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I haven't clicked the link yet, but I'm assuming this development will be houseboats on the Charles. Very innovative!

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"Ass-End of Watertown" didn't wow the focus group.

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Did very well in the overall Q scoring.

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This made me laugh so hard I startled the cat. Thank you.

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I wonder if that will still have a home after the transformation?

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That "Tuin Taverne" on the home screen of the fancy online brochure becomes a very generic Tavern In The Square when its complete.

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Miller's would scare them away.

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in Watertown, it is probably for some questionable assignation.

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Watertown is the spot where the Charles River is at its most narrow point. Back before all the bridges were built, one literally had to travel out there to get to Cambridge by land. So in that case it kind of IS where Cambridge meets Boston

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  • The airport in Manchester, NH, was renamed "Manchester-Boston Regional Airport"
  • The casino being built in Everett is to be called "Wynn Boston Harbor"
  • Etc.

Is anybody fooled?

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Probably a handful of people who book flights to that airport thinking its in or near Boston without looking at a map first.

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50 miles from an airport to a destination isn't really that bad.

its three times that distance from the airport to get to my lake house, unless i fly into the piddly regional deal afterwards. which i've never done and will likely never do.

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Let's not forget Manchester-by-the-sea-even-if-Affleck-took-out-the-hyphens.

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Manchesterbythesea? Well that's just confusing as all getup.

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Unlike how the good burghers want to be known, since it was simply so dreadful always getting confused with that declasse place up in New Hampshre.

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But does anyone else wish that the New Hampshire city would rename itself "Manchester-on-the-Merrimack"?

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because largest collection of Urban White Poor In New England doesn't have a Chamber of Commerce feel to it.

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Looking down your nose like that?

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Their contribution to the GDP of their state is way higher than that of their coastal cousin.

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Ftfy

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I thought that's what they referred to themselves as?

Maybe Everett becomes eVegas? eVergasett?

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The same ones who fall for "Allston Village, walk to D line" real estate ads.

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is now the Holiday Inn at "Boston - Bunker Hill".

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Have you ever felt like you have been in some place before? I looked at tht image and realized I have.

Its D. Street in South Boston.

http://tiny.cc/6c9dhy

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Its D. Street seemingly every other street in South Boston.

Hell, drive down Western towards Allston and you'll see pretty much exact same rendering in person just before Everett St.

It's been said by many before, and I'll say it again: This current architectural design trend sucks.

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When the newness has long passed, the condo fees have sky rocketed and condo owners are looking for ways to keep the condo fees from rising more.

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This sort of construction isn't new, and is designed for low maintenance.

It may be new to you and recent here, but it has been in full bloom in places like Vancouver, BC and Toronto for a couple of decades now.

Stick-built things using less resilient materials rot far sooner. Of course, proper construction is key, including vapor barriers being properly installed without damage. That's true for any building, however.

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The majority of these buildings are slapped up as fast as they can be. For the cheapest price. Some of them are stick built with precast facades. Just to give an example, Gatehouse 75 in Charlestown. A 75 unit, 5 storey complex and it is completely made of wood. They put up a pretty brownstone front and called it luxury. I know at least one of the buildings on D street is stick built. I watched it go up.

I would be more worried about a fire in one of these units.

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But that is brick, not brownstone.

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By all means, give us a complete explanation of each and why this brick is different than brownstone.

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Brownstone (which there is very little available of anymore):

http://image.shutterstock.com/z/stock-photo-brownstone-buildings-adjacen...

http://s3files.core77.com/blog/images/2012/10/brownstone-002.jpg

Brick/This place:

http://i.imgur.com/ub8evUB.jpg

Bonus Points, Grey Stone:

http://cribchatter.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/1944-w-farragut.jpg

I mean, really, not trying to be a dick, but brick and brownstone are completely different. It is amusing, though, that generally that brownstone/grey stone was just a facade on top of brick - kind of like the precast facades of today aren't 'real'.

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All the brick houses in Beacon Hill, South End and other places like NYC, Brooklyn etc are not Brownstone?

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Correct. They are brick houses.

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A brownstone is any property that is sheathed in sandstone.

Such as the ones you have shown pictures of above, but also brick homes of Beacon Hill, South End and other well known brownstones like Philadelphia's Delancy Place and the brownstones of Georgetown.

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Most of us agree that, to be a brownstone, a property (most typically a townhouse) must be sheathed in sandstone.

The point that seems to be escaping you is that the "brick homes of Beacon Hill, South End, etc." are not sheathed in sandstone, and thus are not brownstones. They're sheathed in brick, which means they don't fit your own criterion above - much as Gatehouse 75 doesn't.

Relatively few properties in Boston are sheathed in sandstone. Most homes in Beacon Hill, South End, etc. are brick, not brownstone.

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It's a very specific definition. They are very similar but not the same.

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Exactly. Brownstone is a material and method that is unrelated to brick. But in your defense, the word brownstone has been inaccurately used to describe stately row-houses for so long that you are half right; In fact I have heard the amusing phrase "a lovely brick brownstone". But when describing the material, you would be incorrect.

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And all the cats in Beacon Hill, South End and other places like NYC, Brooklyn etc are not dogs.

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There are Brownstones in all of those places. There are also other types of row houses that are made from other materials - like bricks.

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The local ones aren't brownstones, it's a common misconception.

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Often in the South End and Beacon Hill, the stoops and window sashes are made of Brownstone.

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A "brownstone" is a type of building also. Not just the material it's made out of. Yes originally the term was because of what it is made out of, but now it's more to describe a building style. We pretty much interchange the words now.

And yeah a good portion of the buildings in the NoEnd/SoEnd/BB/etc are made of brick because brick laying was a huge industry here over a century ago. (and in some ways still is) Only in the Northeast do we have so many brick buildings.. it's pretty uncommon outside the Northeast due to the lack of natural resources to make the brick. (Friends from SF are always amazed at how much brick we have here)

I remember when Krispy Kreme opened in Medford, the city REQUIRED us to have at least 80% Medford Brick. And yes it had to be "Medford Brick" so it was made and laid right in Medford. Which is why Kelly's.. in the old KK.. is a brick building, and not white stucco like most of the KK's across the country.

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Disagree. Brownstone is not a synonym for townhouse. It's a building with a brownstone face.

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"Only in the Northeast do we have so many brick buildings.."

You should visit Chicago someday. Or Saint Louis. Or Milwaukee. All of them have a higher proportion of brick buildings than does Boston.

Bricks aren't used much in San Francisco because they suck in earthquakes.

Chicago, on the other hand... look up the Monadnock Building. Seventeen stories of structural brick. We don't have that in Boston.

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I also disagree - the type of building is a row-house, and the material is brownstone. Also, you don't see brick in SF because they aren't great in earthquakes, but you do see a ton of it in places like Chicago (which is the base of their grey stones).

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Sorry.. you're grasping at straws. It's like several words in the English language where originally it meant one thing but now is used to describe something else of a similar style.

"Cell Phone" is good example. Cell Phone means Cellular Telephone. "Cellular" is the original technology used for mobile phones (the AMPS technology). However that technology hasn't been used in over 20 years for phones. Yet many people still refer to their iPhone as a "Cell Phone" when it really isn't one.

Another example is any thing where you call it by the brand name, and not the actual name. Things like "Windex", even though you purchased "Glass Plus", most people it "Windex". Same for "Kelvinator" (an old refrigerator brand), Oreos (when you purchased store brand chocolate creme cookies), Coke (where you purchased store brand soda.. or even Pepsi), and "Teflon Pan" (even though "teflon".. the material is seldom used anymore)

Hell even words like "gay", which the original meaning was "Happy". Yet "gay" today is used to describe a homosexual and is seldom used to describe a feeling.

It's all in how the words are used. Welcome to the English language where it's constantly changing. Unlike languages like French, where there are 'standards' set on words you can use and what definitions they are. English, Nothing is ever cut and dry since it is constantly changing.

And much like "brownstone", you can argue this point till the cows come home on whether it's correct or not. But I'll continue calling a "brownstone" to describe an architectural style of building because the English language says i can. But thanks for playing.. Now here's Roddy to tell you about some wonderful departing gifts you are getting...

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Feel free to call the yellow stuff they put on your asparagus "holiday sauce." Feel free to call the device you put your debit card into an "ATM machine." Feel free to use an apostrophe for every plural. Feel free to use "I" as an object pronoun. Feel free to use the words "irregardless," "supposably," "flustrated," "participator," "expresso," and "sherbert." Feel free to use "adverse" to mean "disinclined," "bemused" to mean "humored," "depreciate" to mean "disparage," "enervate" to mean "energize," "fortuitous" to mean "fortunate." And of course feel free to use "brownstone" to mean "row house."

The English language won't stop you, and very few people will even comment. Some will raise their eyebrows ever so slightly.

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You forgot "libary".

And that sometimes exterior steps are cement.

And those beams (vertical) are holding up the roof.

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Not really sure who you replied to, but, hey, nice condescending tone and attempt at a lecture on the English language. Anyways, Windex (and Xerox/Kleenex/etc) are examples of proprietary eponyms/genericized trademark that have become synonymous with the generic product generally due to very aggressive marketing/being forced into vernacular - versus words that holistically evolved as part of language (your example of 'gay' would be a good illustration).

Anyways - yes, the term brownstone has become more generalized to mean row-houses, but, it is still technically correct (the best kind of correct) that to be a real brownstone it needs to have a veneer of, well, brownstone.

Anyways, all of this is really moot as the entire point of my pointing this out to the OP was because he said Gatehouse 75 in Charlestown had a brownstone front -- Gatehouse 75 is neither a row house, nor does it have a brownstone facade (it is brick), so I think we both can at least agree that Gatehouse 75 has nothing to do with brownstone (architecturally or material-wise).

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Almost all mid-rise, multi-unit, mass constructed buildings built since the end of WWII looks horrible within 20 years of construction. These will be no exception.

Few developers and consumers are willing to spend the cash needed for classic brick and stone designs.

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In modern construction, these are simply superficial facade specifications anyway.

They may "look" more traditional, but their construction is essentially the same as what we see in this conceptual design.

I'm happy to see Boston get away from "but its gotta be brick"!

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I would take a brick facade/veneer over value-engineered prefab bland panels that will look like crap in a decade or two any day. Yay for fat squat boxes !

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value-engineered

There is no value and there is no engineering.

Horrible term.

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Nothing wrong with an oxymoron :)

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What an Oxy-Maroon!

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There is a softness and class to the slight imperfections found when building with real bricks which can't be reproduced with pre-fab brick panels. The late 1800s buildings had decorative facades around the windows, doors, and roof which are completely absent from today's designs even if it would be possible to recreate using more modern materials.

The "Gotta be brick" crowd was asking for the wrong thing. It isn't the bricks themselves that look nice, it's the whole package with unique craftsmanship and details. There's nothing wrong inherently with pre-fab panels, it's just that they aren't customized until something unique and interesting.

The craftsmen of the late 1800s and early 1900s are long gone.

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But, real brick facades are still done and have been done recently. Load bearing I don't see as something that will come back anytime soon though. A lot that 18/19th century charm is also from the years of weathering that the bricks and stone facades have had.

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The new buildings 1 Canal, and whatever the one on Valenti way is designated have used real bricks for their facades. I walk through there everyday, I kinda cool to see 3 giant trucks stacked with bricks in the morning and be nearly empty by the time I come through in the evening. I like watching the process of the buildings go up.

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Yup, there have been others, too.

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It's done depending upon use and size of project. For example a "small" washbay for a Town's DPW is load bearing due to size, ability to withstand the corrosive marine-like environment of washing down salt trucks, etc. Small because there are some big trucks that need to fit though it. There is no added charm in this particular instance because it matches the mid-90's building it is adjacent to.

Costs multiply when scaled up to a larger building, especially when adding in the insulation needs, continuous air/vapor barrier requirements - tied into the roof vapor barrier, installed on winter warm side of the insulation in our zone, etc. All code mandated.

Walls get thicker and thicker as a result. Especially when you then add in the inside 'skin' of metal stud and GWB. And then all your money is spent. :/

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The biggest reason is simply the cost of labor. The craftsman aren't gone, they've unionized, and are now extremely expensive. The labor of a craftsman was much cheaper in 1800s-early 1900s than it is today.

Panelized systems are faster, saving time, which means saving money. Hence why developers love them.

I don't think the average citizen realizes just how expensive it is to build in Boston vs. other places. You're going to be using union labor, and if you try to prefab components your building out of the city, you'll get denied at the ZBA or BPDA.

It's really counterintuitive to say "We need more middle income housing," and in the same breath say "But you have to use union labor, and cannot prefab building elements out of the city or state." Basically a catch-22 for developers. With these factors, and the tendency of the city and neighbors to demand parking (which is very, very expensive to build), it's no wonder everything that gets built has to be sold as luxury.

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The biggest reason is simply the cost of labor. The craftsman aren't gone, they've unionized, and are now extremely expensive. The labor of a craftsman was much cheaper in 1800s-early 1900s than it is today.

Beyond this reality, behind the scenes we bemoan the fact that we don't have masons anymore, we have bricklayers.

There are some schools which are trying to bring back the craftsmanship of yore. http://americancollegeofthebuildingarts.com/ for example

More locally we can find craftsmen such as Robert Shure of Skylight Studios and Carl Close of Hammersmith Studios to say nothing of the many artists in and around town. I just happen to have worked for and with these two fine people.

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Agreed. Brick and stone gets the best return on one's investment.

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That assumes a developer will hold the property for an extended period of time, like 100 years. Highly, highly unlikely. They tend to build cheap, fill the units/ retail leases, then sell the property.

If what you say were really the case, then every typical 4-over-1 would be built out of laid up brick. Instead it's generally 4 levels (residential, wood-stick built) over 1 level (retail, concrete). That is by far the cheapest materials/method for construction, which is exactly why you see it pretty much everywhere.

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My immediate reaction was that the architects pulled a Melania and just copied some other renderings and then slapped the word Arsenal at the bottom.

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pulled a Melania

hahahahahaahahahahah Good one. I'm gonna steal that.

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So you're gonna pull a Melania on me? :) By all means, use it freely!

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LOL touche!

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It also looks very similar to the brand new Residence Inn on Arsenal Street (just down the street from the mall, closer to Watertown Sq) that recently finished construction.

https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-o/0d/54/e0/ee/residence-in...

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Shopping on the bottom and residences on the top is a better use of the space. Boring designs but surely better then what's currently there. Build it now before the recession hits.

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Did they just reuse the animations from Assembly Row and SoDaSoPa?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miXMWJyOdgw

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Construction's under way in the exclusive, exciting spot where the South End and Hingham meet.

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oh, you mean methadone mile? where the junkie meet the pavement?

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Highly sought-after?

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...complaining that these all look EXACTLY THE SAME. I don't mind the concept, just the execution. I don't have a desire to live in or visit these communities. They do nothing for me.

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I agree, and this one especially because Arsenal St. is a retail/industrial strip and the only place to hang out within a short walk would be Miller's Ale House. One tolerable place is the Archstone apartment complex in Waltham, which is mere feet from Moody St. in Waltham, with all its restaurant and transit options.

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First, Cambridge meets Boston at MIT. Second, this is nothing special. There are relatively new, generic 4-5 story apartment blocks draped all over the area, around Arsenal St, Pleasant St., Alewife, Waltham Center, etc This is just more of the same, places to live near Boston and the MBTA that will charge $2,500 for a 2-bedroom. I sincerely hope they will increase the capacity of the 70 bus.

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I love where they show the town line inside the museum.

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There's at least one pedestrian bridge over the really-a-creek river where a marker lets you know where to stand half in Boston, half in Brookline.

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is going to be a nightmare. It already kind of is, but now it'll be worse. Main Street in Waltham to Watertown Square, then it's going to have to fight its way up Arsenal Street past both the new apartment monolith at Irving/Arsenal and then the Arsenal Yards- then its a long, slow slog up Western into Central. Jesus wept.

Watertown traffic is going to get awful.

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Too bad they aren't reactivating the Watertown Branch rail line. Maybe a shuttle to Alewife, or frequent service to Porter and North Station, or a trolley line that hops into the street and goes to Harvard Square...

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You can't get to Central Square via Western Ave. It's one way from Central to the Charles. River St. will take you into Central Sq.

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You can take Western Avenue eastbound across Allston.

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There's already a lot, that's why there should be even more planning instead of approval of so many of these.

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Fixing the godawful traffic light timing on Arsenal Street would help the 70 bus far more than banning new housing.

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...Under Construction Today!

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Arsenal Yards will always be a bit better than Tottenham Yards.

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So it has that going for it.

Was this also the property that the town helped to develop (to help raise taxes since Watertown's footprint is so small) only to have a non-profit (Harvard) swoop in and buy it? Or was that the lot next to it?

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Will it be demolished? I think that at least part of it was made from some of the previous buildings from when it really was an arsenal.

Every time a major development is proposed, I always wonder how our transit system can cope. Crowded roads and an MBTA that is barely functions.

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It looks like they'll keep that - but add some skylight-type things to it (if you go to the Web site, linked in the original post, you can see it in the slide show they have up).

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These developments add a significant amount of traffic. The room to build doesn't add enough room for the other needs it brings.

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The plans call for the actual historic buildings be preserved but the additions (that connected several buildings to form the current mall) will be demolished.

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closing? I hope not because Bradlees is awful and Caldor's never has what I need.

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Everybody knows Zayre is where it's at.

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....it was a simpler....homelier time of big smiles and bad haircuts.

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I dunno.. I'm kinda an Ames kinda guy..

ooo they are having a "wrap up sale" sale in 1985...

Sadly, they are gone:

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It was better at Fretter, and Somerville Lumber had it all.

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