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Cambridge Ablaze With Fight Over Lights on Newer Buildings

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The 15-story Zinc at 22 Water Street is one of the newest residential buildings in a housing-starved Cambridge. Its 392 luxury apartments are also among some 1,700 units going up in East Cambridge specifically, a total that represents the bulk of the 2,900 residences developers are building citywide. So you would think that Zinc would be celebrated, it and other East Cambridge developments cheered for boosting inventory amid the crushing demand that helps keep rents and prices so darned high?

It turns out that the large-scale LED lights atop Zinc, and on other newer buildings, are driving some residents to distraction. One resident told Cambridge Day's Marc Levy that such illumination was "turning Cambridge into Little Tokyo." A neighbor of the new Martin Luther King Jr. School at 100 Putnam Avenue described that building in particular as "'ablaze until 10 o'clock at night,' with no shielding, invading the otherwise residential street with glare starting at 5 a.m. daily."

And that is kind of the point: It's not just that the lights on the new buildings are particularly bright—it's that they're there at all. Cambridge is not used to such a pace of development and to the changes that it brings, which creates a tricky situation for officials. They presumably do not want to slow the construction pace, but must nevertheless respond to residents who see the fresh lights as far from a beacon of hope to prospective renters and home buyers.

A long-established task force is looking into the matter and is expected by next month to draft changes for the City Council to consider. Meanwhile, some stopgap solutions are in place, including screening, and the Zinc has cut its lights due to a situation supposedly not related to the complaints. Stay tuned. But do draw the blinds.
· Zinc Buildings Shuts Off Its Trademark LEDs Amid Glare of Outdoor Lighting Task Force [Day]
· Cambridge's Zinc Mines Elements of Higher-End Apt. Living [Curbed Boston]
· Our Adventures in the People's Republic archive [Curbed Boston]
(H/t to Levy, too, for the "Zinc again" pun.)