More than 50,000 square feet of space in a historic Kendall Square building is up for grabs — but pharma and tech companies, this one’s not for you.
Cambridge officials plan to redevelop the vacant Foundry Building on Rogers Street into a community space, with room for cultural groups as well as workspace that can be used to train low-income residents from nearby neighborhoods for jobs at Kendall Square businesses.
Neighborhood groups lobbied hard for the plan, concerned that locals were being left behind as the Kendall Square business district surged forward.
“To hold onto community in the midst of such drastic change is really difficult,” said Mark Jaquith of the East Cambridge Planning Team.
Six teams this month submitted preliminary plans for redeveloping and operating the Foundry. They are Boston Properties; [email protected] (made up of Industry Lab and btcRE); LDG Design and Kane Engineering; Lincoln Property Company; Pilot Development Partners, Inc.; and a group made up of the Cambridge Innovation Center, Graffito SP and Hacin + Associates.
The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, which is overseeing the project, also received interest from three potential tenants: Cambridge Eats, the Puzzle School, and the National Youth Development Council, Inc..
The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, which is overseeing the project, would not release their names. Officials have not announced the deadline for more specific proposals.
The city acquired the three-story Foundry, built in 1890, from Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. At one point, the building processed 50 tons of iron daily; more recently it was used as office space. Now it sits empty, tucked behind the emerging Binney Street biotech corridor and across from the Lofts at Kendall Square, where two-bedroom apartments rent from $3,300 a month.
The City Council has approved spending $6 million for repairs on the building and officials are looking for some commercial tenants to bring in additional revenue. That might mean space for startups or a restaurant — but even with some businesses in the mix, the idea is for the Foundry to be a place where the community congregates, planners say.
That’s a challenge in other parts of Kendall Square. While some buildings at MIT and elsewhere are open to the public, many nearby residents say they don’t see many welcome mats put out for them in the glass-and-steel landscape.
Area chefs cook for a cause
The fried chicken sliders from Commonwealth Cambridge were a favorite. But so were the pork posole from Cafe ArtScience, the zucchini frittata from Catalyst, and chia seed pudding from West Bridge, all served alongside one another.
Eight chefs from in and around Kendall Square teamed up to cater a fund-raiser Sunday for 40 waiters, dishwashers, and other staff thrown out of work when the Blue Room and its affiliated wine bar, Belly, were shut down late last month. The restaurants sustained smoke and water damage after a fire in the duct system at the One Kendall Square complex. They will remain closed for at least several more weeks.
The brunch, a raffle, and a silent auction raised about $10,000 for the staff.
“This won’t be everything for them, but it will at least be something,” said Steve “Nookie” Postal, chef and owner of Commonwealth, who has known the owners of the Blue Room for years.
Flat Top Johnny’s and BeanTowne Coffee House also are closed for repairs; other benefits have been set up for their employees.
Nick Zappia and Liz Vilardi, the married couple who own the Blue Room, said most of the restaurant has been gutted: The banquettes and flooring need to be replaced, and a new kitchen will be built around the wood-burning grill, which survived.
“It’s a forced renovation, that’s how we’re looking at it,” Zappia said.
As for their staff, most have found temporary jobs at other restaurants that opened their doors to the displaced busboys and servers. Lisa Collins, a bartender at Belly, is filling in at Central Bottle wine shop. She was also serving customers at the brunch Sunday.
“I don’t know what I would do without a job,” she said. “I’m lost with days off.”
Disease detection goes global
A company with Kendall Square ties is poised to link physicians in Boston and Shanghai in a global quest to diagnose patients suffering from baffling diseases.
The technology comes from the company previously known as NextCODE Health, which was acquired earlier this year by a Chinese company and is now called WuXi NextCODE. (It retains an office in Kendall Square.)
The company sequences a patient’s DNA and compares it to data generated from thousands of other genomes. The goal: to identify mutations that might be causing rare disease and determine diagnoses.
Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital have been using the WuXi NextCODE technology. On Wednesday, the company announced that it will be used as well at Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai. In addition to providing the genetic tools, the system will connect the Chinese doctors to their Boston counterparts and other physicians around the world to identify rare diseases.
“That can mean the difference between a misdiagnosis and correct treatment,” said the company’s president and chief operating officer, Hannes Smárason.
Full steam ahead
Cars, trucks, and Red Line trains aren’t the only things that travel across the eternally clogged Longfellow Bridge: A steam pipe runs along the historic structure, funneling steam generated in Kendall Square to Boston, as part of a network that provides heating for 250 customers on both sides of the river.
And just as the bridge is getting an upgrade, so is the steam pipe. A new line should be in place by spring, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
The upgrade ought to boost capacity: The existing pipe, which dates to the 1970s, has a 14-inch diameter, while the replacement line has an 18-inch diameter.
Steam heating may seem old-fashioned, but the wisps ferried over the Longfellow Bridge serve cutting-edge enterprises.
For example, that steam provides most of the heat at Massachusetts General Hospital, said Teerachai Srisirikul, director of engineering and utilities at Partners HealthCare. Depending on fuel prices, Partners pays between $7 million and $9 million each year for steam, Srisirikul said.