The May 2nd meeting of the Cambridge Planning Commission saw the approval of a new Grocery Outlet Bargain Market at Cambridge Marketplace, despite concerns over market saturation. Existing grocery stores in the area include Walmart, Food Lion and Aldi’s, with the now-closed Save-a-Lot previously providing discounted groceries. Concerns were raised over the impact on the downtown family-owned grocery, Center Market. The Board of Appeals had already approved a necessary variance for setbacks.
David Wilk, consultant and professor at Temple University, provided an update on the Hearn Building, exploring its potential as a residential and commercial complex. Proposed by Green Street Housing, the building would require a $20 million investment, most of which would come from state funds. The plan is for 44 units of market rate and lower income housing, as the building’s income stream would only support around $1.2 million in debt service. This led to extensive discussions, raising questions on the wisdom of the investment, the impact on local businesses and housing needs, and the implications of the Fair Housing Act.
Finally, the Commission approved the correction of a zoning error on Leonard’s Lane, effectively reassigning 6.2 acres from industrial to residential, to align with the surrounding neighborhood. The change will pave the way for a community park. The meeting also continued discussions from April regarding building height regulations and the need for better definitions in the UDC relating to various types of healthcare facilities. Future discussions on the topic of recreational marijuana were also slated.
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