Last night the Middle East held an open community meeting to discuss a proposed residential complex that would sit atop its Central Square complex at 472 to 480 Massachusetts Ave. Here are the five main points to take away from the session [Disclaimer: Unfortunately, the death flu kept me away from the hearing, but our anonymous Vanya spies were in full force and reported back to us via text as the meeting unfolded]:
:: 1. The venue would close for an uncertain amount of time during construction. We’d likely be looking at a rotating three-month period of closures around the existing structure, meaning some parts of the club would remain open while construction began in other areas.
:: 2. There would be 100 residential units total, with 20 percent deemed “affordable housing” by the City of Cambridge.
:: 3. The first floor above the Middle East would be retail space, which serves as one way to buffer sound coming from the Middle East’s various rooms (the Upstairs, Downstairs, ZuZu) as well as neighboring T.T. The Bear’s Place.
:: 4. The northward expansion would be held up by girders, offering another sound barrier (as it would not be completely connected to the current structure). And those girders would be padded.
:: 5. The cost of the project is estimated to be at $7 million, but the added support to the existing structure could bring it closer to $9 million. The Middle East’s owners, Joseph and Nabil Sater, are currently seeking out investors.
We’re told more meetings will happen in the near future, which get more into specifics on sound control and other building amenities, like solar panels and garden spaces on the roof. The Saters offered two proposed plans last night, with one building higher than the other (violating Cambridge zoning laws of no building taller than 80 feet), and offered those in attendance to take a vote on which they preferred. Ultimately, it was agreed to simply take both plans to City Hall.