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'Insanity' Plea: Cambridge Group Wants Shorter Courthouse

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The redevelopment of the old Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse in East Cambridge has taken many twists and turns, including the closure of its asbestos-laden jail and the addition of apartments to the final scheme of things (heck, there's even been garment-rending over falcons that nest in the tower's nooks). Last spring, it seemed like everything was settled: Developer Leggat McCall would create 460,000 square feet of office space; 15,000 square feet of retail; and 25,000 square feet of residential space that would be comprised of at least 24 one- and two-bedrooms. All that was needed were a handful of official imprimaturs, including that of the Cambridge Planning Board early next month.

A new group calling itself the Neighborhood Association of East Cambridge has arisen to try and get the city to change its mind and the commonwealth, which has been running things, to back off. From the association's website (h/t Cambridge Day):

We vigorously oppose the redevelopment proposed by Leggat McCall, but we would enthusiastically support development that is properly planned in conformity with zoning and character appropriate for this quiet, historic, residential neighborhood. Unfortunately, the City is now on the verge of approving a private plan foisted on us by the Commonwealth that effectively leaves this disastrous mistake in place and would pack 2,000+ commuters and visitors and clogged traffic into this single small site. No sensible plan would ever invite such an abrupt, foolish change here.

What exactly does the neighborhood association want? A shorter building: "At a minimum, new development should conform to the 35-foot to 80-foot height limit zoned for this area, and should not result in even more damaging impact than the fiasco that came before (admittedly a very low bar)." Leggat McCall's 300-footer is, according to the association, "simply insanity." (Then again, Cambridge could use some more housing—and by "some" we mean a lot. It's crazy out there.)

The Planning Board is scheduled to discuss the Sullivan redevelopment March 4. Stay tuned.
· New Group Rallies Opposition to the Tower O.K.'d to Replace Courthouse 'Monstrosity' [Day]
· A Twist in the Case of Cambridge's Sullivan Courthouse [Curbed Boston]
· Killer Vus! Inside East Cambridge's Sullivan Courthouse [Curbed Boston]
· East Cambridge's Sullivan Courthouse: Yeah, Apartments [Curbed Boston]
· Won't Someone Please Think of the Falcons in East Cambridge? [Curbed Boston]
· Cambridge's Thousands of New Homes Probably Not Enough [Curbed Boston]
· The Only Cambridge/Somerville Home Under $250K? Gone. [Curbed Boston]

Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse

Thorndike Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02141