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Central Square’s EMF Building battle takes turn as displaced artists vow protest

Landlord evicted tenants in late May, citing need for upgrades; city says building unsafe

Evictions continued on May 31.
Boston Globe/Contributor/Getty Images

The battle over the EMF Building at 120 Brookline Street in Cambridge’s Central Square has taken a turn as musicians displaced from the property and their supporters vow a protest of a June 16 music festival in nearby Harvard Square.

Recall that landlord John DiGiovanni bought the building in 2016 for $4 million. He announced in February 2018 that he would be evicting the approximately 200 musicians, nonprofits, and small businesses there to make way for necessary upgrades.

The City of Cambridge had looked into managing the building for DiGiovanni to ensure the continued presence of the tenants in a Central Square long-known for its artists and artistic community. That effort came to naught, and the evictions started going forward.

Now a group calling itself the Cambridge Artist Coalition is organizing a protest of the the 11th Annual Make Music Harvard Square/Fete de la Musique. DiGiovanni is president of the board of the Harvard Square Business Association, an organizer of the festival.

The protest is designed to call attention to DiGiovanni’s actions in Central Square, which he has said are unrelated to his activities and investment in Harvard Square.

At least 195 people are going to attend the protest, if the coalition’s Facebook page is any indication. Stay tuned.