Support East Cambridge Neighbors

Dear Friends,

     Most of you are familiar with the oversize, out-of-scale former Middlesex County Courthouse and Jail that sits in the heart of East Cambridge. As described by our East Cambridge neighbors this project was a major development mistake that has weighed on the neighborhood for a half century.

    Sadly the current plan is to increase the height and bulk of the building and transform it from public use to a private commercial development, to house 2,000 employees, requiring 1,000 parking spaces. The community cannot absorb this burden, nor can the already overburdened streets of Cambridgeport, Mid-Cambridge, Central Square, Alewife Brook, and Area 4.

    The Sullivan Courthouse is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and last year, the state's Department of Capital Asset Management informed East Cambridge residents that the "concrete behemoth" was being transferred to the highest private bidder Leggat-McCall, with no regard for neighborhood concerns on issues such as height, traffic, parking, wind, solar glare and light pollution.

    On Tuesday, March 4th, at 7 pm, the Planning Board will vote on a redevelopment proposal for the Sullivan Courthouse and Middlesex County Jail, the 280-foot tall eyesore located in the middle of a residential neighborhood in East Cambridge.

    Please email the Planning Board and ask them to deny Special Permit Application #288, and oppose allowing a private developer to retain the full bulk of the building and change its use  from public service to private  commercial office space. Emails may be sent to [email protected] and cc'ed to <[email protected]>. You can learn more of our East Cambridge neighbor's concerns at <>, and below.
    Yesterday, a large group of East Cambridge residents gathered to plan next steps in response to the Commonwealth's unwillingness to consider their concerns. Read about it in Cambridge Day:
    The Cambridge Residents Alliance is working to unite people across the city in working for a livable, affordable and diverse Cambridge. Please take this opportunity to show solidarity with our neighbors from East Cambridge.

From the recently formed Neighbors Association of East Cambridge:

What is this about?
The Sullivan Courthouse, 40 Thorndike St, East Cambridge, 02141 is an infamous, costly failure, and its future is on the Planning Board’s agenda at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4th, 2014.
The proposal on the table calls for re-skinning the existing building in glass, filling it with thousands of corporate commuters, and a few retailers and residents.
We ask the Planning Board to deny Special Permit Application #288 sought by the developer, which would retain the full bulk of the Courthouse.  Instead, we seek to reshape and re-envision a future of 40 Thorndike Street that is more in line with our neighborhood’s character.

Our concerns:

1. Height: At 280 feet, the existing building exceeds the neighborhood zoning by 200 feet.
2. Traffic: The proposed development will have over 2,000 people commuting to and
from work every day, creating intolerable traffic conditions in our already congested
neighborhood streets.
3. Parking: The proposed plan adds thousands of daily workers but just 92 dedicated spaces. This will pack the municipal garage and saturate the neighborhood.
4. Wind, solar glare and light pollution: The existing structure creates a notorious wind-tunnel effect and a building of the same size covered in glass could make this worse. At night the glass tower will flood the neighborhood with light. Solar glare during the day is inevitable.

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