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Sullivan Courthouse Redevelopment Kind of Moves Forward

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The Middlesex Jail at the old Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse in East Cambridge is empty as of Saturday. John Hawkinson at Cambridge Day has the details: "...220 prisoners were transferred from the derelict building at 40 Thorndike Street to the Middlesex House of Corrections in Billerica." The prisoner swap, a precondition of any sale of the 22-story tower, nudges the redevelopment of the courthouse forward toward a future of offices, apartments and retail. Or does it?

A few days before the big move the East Cambridge Planning Team, an advisory panel, overwhelmingly voted against supporting the latest redevelopment plans. Recall that developer Leggat McCall wants to construct 24 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as thousands of square feet of offices and retail, at the property; the plans have meant with vociferous opposition, most of it pivoting on calls to reduce the height of the tower and thereby reverse what many residents see as the initial mistake of the courthouse building in the first place (it looms over a low-rise neighborhood). Others, of course, recognize Cambridge's dire need of more housing.

In response, Leggat McCall, along with its architect, the omnipresent Elkus Manfredi, have redesigned the building to be shorter by two floors and less glassy. The tower would now be clad in terra cotta (check out the rendering above). Whether these moves, and the prisoner swap, mean the Sullivan courthouse redevelopment moves forward to shovels in the ground still remains to be seen. Stay tuned. We told you this was one of the real estate stories to watch this fine summer.
· Prisoner Transfer Closes Middlesex Jail, Moves Courthouse Development Closer [Day]
· Sullivan Courthouse Developer Willing to Chop Some Floors [Curbed Boston]
· How Boston's Busiest Architects Are Changing Their City [Curbed Boston]
· Cambridge's Thousands of New Homes Probably Not Enough [Curbed Boston]
· What to Watch This Summer in Greater Boston Real Estate [Curbed Boston]

Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse

Thorndike Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02141