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Jailhouse Chic II: In East Cambridge, a Marketing Challenge

The current residents of Cambridge's next hot apartment tower aren't too keen on the place. It lacks amenities, like private bathrooms and bed frames. And forget original detailing and built-in shelves. There's not even a decent mantel to pretend to place the flat-screen above. It is, dear reader, beyond a handyman's delight. Per The Herald's Laurel J. Sweet and Chris Cassidy:

Middlesex County’s high-rise jail atop an otherwise abandoned 22-story skyscraper in Cambridge is a maximum-security “powder keg” — with roughly 400 men in a facility built for 160 ... [The] jail, which occupies floors 17 through 20 in the former Sullivan Courthouse, dozens of prisoners share one or two toilets, sleep in bunk beds in the corridors or are packed head-to-toe on floor mattresses. Bad enough for the guys inside, but what of the would-be re-developer of the courthouse? As we told you last week, seven suitors have come calling to the state with bids to redo the 595,000-square-foot courthouse into some hybrid of apartments and retail (and maybe apartments, retail and offices, though apartments seems to be the one recurring theme in the bids). Everyone has noted the cost of cleaning out the asbestos in the building, a cost that could run into the tens of millions (and the big reason as to why the courthouse is empty save for the jail), but no one talks about the cleaning bill that may be in store.

Or the marketing challenge for any apartments perched at the top of a redone courthouse. Infamy rarely helps move homes. Few want to buy or rent into a violent crime scene, for instance, no matter how much time has passed before the first open house. We can only imagine, then, the pitches that will go into moving any future spreads: "The best apartments Cambridge has to offer—bar none!" "The old Sullivan Courthouse, your great escape!" And so forth. Further suggestions welcome.

· Overcrowded Jail a Real 'Powder Keg' [Herald]
· Jailhouse Chic II: Cambridge Courthouse Destined for Apartments [Curbed Boston]

Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse

Thorndike Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02141