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Sullivan Courthouse Developer on Chopping the Height

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On Tuesday, we brought you the news that the Cambridge City Council had officially asked both the state and the developer of the old Sullivan Courthouse at 40 Thorndike Street to come back to the negotiating table over said courthouse's redevelopment. The whole debate has been going on seemingly forever (more background here) but it basically comes down to: The developer, Leggat McCall, wants to convert the existing building into 18 22 floors of offices, retail and apartments; locals object to the scope of the plans and want a building of no more than 80 feet in height per the zoning for the area (the current building is 280 feet). That's where the City Council re-entered the drama.

A representative from Leggat McCall sent us the below statement Tuesday afternoon in response to the council's request for further negotiations (emphasis ours):

Leggat McCall remains committed to the 40 Thorndike Street redevelopment and the opportunity to turn the aging and all but abandoned Courthouse structure into a thriving mixed-use asset with significant benefits to the neighborhood and the City. Last night [Monday] at the City Council meeting, we supported the resolution calling for continued discussions on the project and confirmed our commitment to participate in a neighborhood working group to review our proposed project. We are open to making additional modifications to our plan that address community concerns; however the reality is that this project requires $30 million toward asbestos abatement plus $10 to $15 million to demolish or take down the majority of the existing structure. This means that lowering the height of the project to 80 feet, as some have suggested, is simply not economically viable and was not proposed by any of the seven developers who evaluated and bid on the property back in 2012.

We look forward to the opportunity to participate in the working group proposed by Councilor Toomey so that we can move forward on this important project soon after the current jail operations are relocated out of the existing facility.

As always, stay tuned.
· Cambridge Officially Calls for Do-Over at Sullivan Courthouse [Curbed Boston]
· Our complete Sullivan Courthouse coverage [Curbed Boston]

[Rendering of Leggat McCall's current plans]

Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse

Thorndike Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02141