What do you think about a winter farmers market? The Central Square Farmers Market (Bishop Allen Dr. & Norfolk St.) is outdoors on Mondays May-Nov. The nearest alternatives are the winter farmers market in the Atrium @ 100 Technology Square on Wednesdays and the year-round produce stand (operated by Russo's) in MIT's Stata Center on Tuesdays.
As a regular Cambridge--Boston bike commuter, I'm so excited about the potential of this multi-use path! This will be an important connection for existing bike routes and will definitely encourage biking (safely and easily!) between busy areas like BU, MIT, Cambridgeport, etc. I think now is a critical time to support/develop smart, well-designed cycling infrastructure in the area.
Cambridge is at a special, opportune crossroads - more residents than ever are cycling as incoming development applies ever more pressure on our auto infrastructure.
The Grand Junction Path will encourage people to bike. It will make cycling, walking, and running safer. Perhaps most importantly, it will link the Somerville Community Path with the paths along the Charles River, creating a complete non-auto transit system, and setting a precedent for future green transit development in Cambridge, Boston, and beyond.
At the same time, we will take cars off the road: alleviate traffic pressures, reduce auto carbon emissions and pollutions, free up parking spaces, and connect Somerville, East Cambridge, Kendall Square, Cambridgeport, and Allston-Brighton.
Furthermore, we'll be showing our children - with action - that we value green transit, healthy physical/mental behavior, and responsible neighborhood building.
This path is a righteous no-brainer!
Vail Court has been lying vacant and derelict on an incredibly important location for years and years. It's unacceptable and should absolutely be a redevelopment priority. Given its location directly adjacent to mid and highrise buildings on Bishop Allen, and its proximity to transit and other destinations, I envision mid to high rise housing located here, with an important opportunity to include middle and lower income units. It's also located next to what seems to be an incredibly underutilized / undervalued parking lot that could be redeveloped in combination with Vail Court. Apart or together, these sites are large enough to build substantial height as well as include a garage to acccomodate assessed parking needs.
Make Central a must-visit destination by introducing a year-round market for etsy.com crafts, local goods, vintage items, and art. Think SoWa open market in South End. People flock there just to check things out and usually end up buying something. This supports local crafters/artists
and helps bring foot traffic to Central.
I think funky gift shops (like Black Ink or Newbury Comics) will help bring people to the area.
Another idea is a sort of marketplace for local crafts and etsy.com goods (such as the SoWa open market in South End). People make a trip to go to SoWa just to browse, and will come to Central as well so if a similar market existed.
Regarding the possibilities for retail spaces: There are few choices for clothes shopping within walking distance of the neighborhoods surrounding Central Square. Affordable options would be even better.
I'd love to see increased public space: parks with water features, shade and seating are sorely needed; rooftop spaces would be great (like the Kendall rooftop or restaurants and bars if zoning would permit); a permanent space for a farmer's market and outdoor spaces for play (similar to the Lawn on D in South Boston). More food options, including affordable options, like a pizza place, BBQ joint, brewpub, and a patio where food trucks can come to suite the need for affordable eateries and cafes. Consignment shops and boutique clothing stores would be a good addition, and mixed with all this should be terraced housing. Also, perhaps a public space that can be used for a variety of programming from movie nights, to festivals like 'what the fluff' in Union Sq., to co-working or academic lectures. I think scale is really important for all of these things too; bars with patios, public space, should all be set back or protected so as not to be right along the hustle and bustle of Mass Ave.
Something I think we need more of and will need more of in the future are spaces for freelancers to work. The current coffee shops and co-working spots in this area are crowded or don't offer wifi. Offering these spaces would boost sales for surrounding businesses too (people want after work drinks and lunch of course.)
How about another mural like what is on the Middle East? Philadelphia has lots of murals that feature local artists and highlight community assets that could be a good example for Cambridge.
Not that long ago, Kendall Square was just a green grocer away from being a well-rounded, quite liveable neighborhood. Now, it is a collection of sandwich shops & 2nd floor businesses on the first floor (Fidelity), which makes for a pretty non-liveable neighborhood.
Don't make that mistake with Central. You want to think of all the businesses people need in a day (pharmacy, grocery, laundry) and the funky little businesses that make a neighborhood great (art, toy stores, flower stores, shoe repair, crafts & jewelry, stationer, etc.) In short, a *great* neighborhood means one doesn't have to walk more than a few blocks for anything they want or need. It also serves to make the neighborhood a destination for others. Central is well on it's way in this regard.
And don't fall into the "chain store trap" either. Harvard Square wisely reversed course when people stopped coming to "The Mall At Harvard Square" and replaced the chains with new funky indies to take the place of the old ones that the chains displaced.
As mentioned below, bring in a place for fresh food purchase - esp. from local farmers & food makers. Incubate indie stores. Allow for art & performance space. Can we get a theatre back
? But, above all, balance the neighborhood.
You want both residents and daily workers to not have to leave the square to buy anything. Then, you want them telling their friends to come to this wicked cool square.
Central would benefit well by adding stores such as smoothie shops, frozen yogurt shops, bubble tea stores-- basically "to-go" beverage shops. This will make Central more pedestrian-friendly spot to grab a smoothie and stroll the shops with family/friends. This will also be great
for the employees of the new biotech buildings.
Adding to this idea of being more "pedestrian/stroll friendly," Central definitely needs more retail stores- either larger chain stores (think Gap, etc) or more unique stores that cannot be found anywhere else (think Black Ink shop in Harvard Sq).