Wicked Local Cambridge | By Emily Cataneo
May 9, 2017
The long-empty lot on Massachusetts Avenue where Gourmet Express once stood is slated to be the site of a new hotel.
The hotel will be geared towards business travelers and tourists and will include 50 units and 42 underground parking spots, as well as retail space on the ground floor.
Despite its prime location in the heart of Porter Square, the lot at 1868 Massachusetts Ave. has stood empty since 2014, when 24-hour deli Gourmet Express closed its doors. Originally, the owners secured a permit to build residential units, but decided to pursue the hotel idea instead based on what they say is a growing need in Porter Square.
“Porter Square is under-served. It’s growing dramatically, and it will bring something to the community,” said Kevin Sheehan, the new hotel’s asset manager and director of operations, at a mandatory, non-binding public comment meeting on Tuesday night. “It will be a less intrusive way of introducing people to this area on a daily basis.”
Sheehan said the building process took so long to get underway because of the decision to switch from a residential building to a hotel, which required a new permit from the city.
David Barsky, project architect, said he envisions the brick-and-metal hotel contributing to Cambridge’s industrial streetscape.
“The original building was a lozenge, as we call it. Very block-like,” said Barsky. “I have an idea of this building looking a little like the Meatpacking District in New York. Or like Haymarket. A little bit like that Cambridge mill kind of feel.”