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Harvard Square addition would likely croak Curious George store

Retail to dominate glassy project despite housing need

The owner of a triangle of buildings at John F. Kennedy and Brattle streets in Cambridge’s Harvard Square plans to add two glassy floors to the properties to create a kind of contiguous shopping mall for the already-retail-heavy area.

The addition would also likely mean the end of the Curious George store there (the only such outlet on Earth) and the Urban Outfitters next-door. It looks from renderings that the famous Dewey Cheatem & Howe sign from the late, great Car Talk radio program would remain.

Under developer Equity One’s plans, a lobby, an elevator, and a stairwell would replace the Curious George store (its lease, and those of other retailers in the buildings, expires next year). The buildings—1-7 JFK Street and 18-20 Brattle Street—would then be linked to form that mall, which would have commercial space as well. The center of the two top floors would be glass, with at least the bottom one a part of the mall.

What about the top floor? Per Universal Hub, it’s not clear what Equity One has in mind. One would hope for apartments or condos to feed housing-starved Cambridge. But we’ll see....

For now, the plans go before the city’s historical commission on Thursday. This being Cambridge, the addition of two partial floors on a low-rise building should cause oodles of controversy. Also, it likely doesn’t help the developer that plans are underway to replace the longtime Out of Town News kiosk nearby with another glassy space. Stay tuned.