Cambridge Redevelopment of Foundry Works Gets Back on Track

Cambridge officials are slowly but surely moving forward with a redevelopment plan involving the 76,000-square-foot Foundry Works building. Once completed, the project is expected to bring additional housing along with space to be used for a variety of community uses. Plans for the self-sustaining building include featuring a community room, multi-purpose rooms, a community hall and gallery, office space, a café and space for performances, workshops and art studios.

The History of Foundry Works

Originally built in 1890 to serve as a single-level foundry, the Foundry Works building features a masonry exterior over a heavy timber frame structure. At the time of its construction, designer L.H. Gager of Palmer, Massachusetts utilized a unique truss system in order to accommodate the larger cranes needed to support iron production. The system featured reinforced double wood trusses that rose up within the clerestory in order to support the beams on which the crane ran. 20 years later, side wings were added to the building to create additional space.

During the height of its use, the Foundry processed up to 50 tons of iron per day. Once a part of a larger industrial complex used by the Blake & Knowles Steam Pump Company, the complex and the Foundry were once nationally-recognized and supplied 90 percent of pump supplies to the U.S. Navy during the 1930s. In later years, the building as used as a taxi barn.

The Redevelopment Process

Located at 101 Rogers Street in East Cambridge, the Cambridge Foundry building was acquired by the city in January 2012 as part of the rezoning process in the nearby Kendall Square. The City Council set aside $6 million in May 2015 for redevelopment of the building, though the final cost is anticipated to be much higher with current figures being at around $30 million to complete the process.

So far, completing the redevelopment project has not been a smooth process, as a previous redevelopment plan never gained traction. A new plan is in the works, however, with the city bringing in the Lemelson-M.I.T. program to help create the new plan. As part of this process, the city is also looking to hire a developer for the property. The city is expected to begin the process of requesting proposals from potential developers sometime early this year. The city is also currently accepting applications for a property management service, with applications due by February 14th.

While the final plans for the redevelopment are obviously still very much in the air, the city has made it clear that it is looking to create some sort of cultural-manufacturing-office hybrid. In terms of the layout, the city is quite flexible, so long as it remains easily accessible to all who might use it. Once complete, the city hopes the space will service as the public community space while also serving as a hub for art, technology, entrepreneurship and workforce education.

Construction on the new project is expected to start as early as June of this year, with the development opening as soon as February 2021.

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