Christmas Cappuccinos? Starbucks Looking At Late November Opening at Bradford

Photo: Design for the new Starbucks in the Bradford development. 

Belmont will soon have a third Starbucks Cafe in the Town of Homes as the Zoning Board of Appeals approved unanimously a special permit allowing the Seattle-based coffee mega-chain to run a “fast food” restaurant at The Bradford, the retail/housing/parking development under construction in the heart of Cushing Square.

Plans submitted to the town shows a narrow 2,500 square foot cafe/store located on the left side of the two-story Winslow Building which is being built approximately on the site of the former Starbucks’ location on Trapelo Road. The store will have two entrances, in the front and rear, with 42 interior and 12 seasonal outdoor seats located in the back. The cafe will seek to operate most days from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., employing four to six workers per shift. There will be 22 parking spaces – including two handicap spaces – dedicated to the store located between the Winslow and the main Pomona buildings.

The cafe is the first business to commit to The Bradford – previously known as Cushing Village – which has close to 38,000 square feet dedicated to retail. The project, which includes underground parking and 112 apartments, is being developed by Toll Brothers Apartment Living, which rescued the proposal after the original developer, Smith Legacy Partners, failed in its efforts to secure the necessary funding.

Danial Brennan, a consultant, assisting Starbucks in securing municipal permits in New England, said the current schedule is for construction of the cafe to begin Sept. 15 with an anticipated completion date “hopefully at the end of November.” 

“But [the dates] are always estimates,” said Brennan.

Unlike other fast-casual restaurants and quick stop retail operations that came before the Zoning Board of Appeals – a proposed Dunkin’ Donuts on Pleasant Street comes to mind – there was no resident opposition or comment concerning Starbucks, which operates approximately 28,000 stores around the globe.

Zoning Chair Nicholas Iannuzzi noted the last well-known “fast food” restaurant to come before the board, for a Subway franchise in Belmont Center, required four meetings before it received a “special” to operate.

“God bless America. God bless Starbucks,” he said.

Fire Damages Several Businesses in Cushing Square

Photo: Belmont Fire Chief David L. Frizzell at the scene

A building’s sprinkler system did its job preventing a fire from spreading and allowed the Belmont Fire Department to extinguish a one-alarm blaze that damaged three businesses in Cushing Square around 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14.

A fire alarm was activated at 8:23 p.m. at 448 Common St. in what is called The Spirited Gourmet Building, said Belmont Fire Chief David L. Frizzell at the scene. When fire equipment arrived two minutes later, the fire control panel indicated a blaze in Pilgrim Shoe Repair.

Upon gaining access, crews discovered the store full of smoke and small fire in the back corner of the operation.

“The sprinkler’s worked controlling the fire long enough for our personnel to knock it down,” said Frizzell. Fire crews spent nearly two hours searching for “hot spots” in the walls and ceiling. Besides the Pilgrim, water damage was reported in The Spirited Gourmet and the Fred Astaire Dance Studio.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.

Cushing Square Fall Festival Slated for Sept. 23

Photo: Moonshine Hollar at last year’s festival.

Mark Saturday, Sept. 23 on your calendar when you can head over to the corner of Common Street, and Trapelo road as the Cushing Square Merchants Association holds its third Cushing Square Fall Festival.

“I think this will be really great for Cushing Square. I think it needs a boost,” Mary Westcott Thomajan, owner of two Westcott Mercantile stores in Belmont and president of the 25-member Merchant Association, told the Belmont Board of Selectmen which approved her application on Monday, Aug. 7.

For the past two years, a much smaller version of the festivities dubbed the “October Festival” took place in front of Thomajan’s store in the first weekend of October. But with the completion of the Trapelo/Belmont Corridor roadway reconstruction earlier in the year and the 167,000 square-foot Bradford development underway, “it’s time to promote the square and the businesses.”

On the 23rd from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Common Street will be closed from Trapelo to the crosswalk at Palfrey Road – Payson Road will stay open – and a small portion of one way Cushing Avenue adjacent to the UPS store. 

There will be approximately 25 table spaces for local stores and if there are any empty spaces to encourage businesses from outside the square to participate. Visitors can expect local eateries to dish out their specialties and stores to set up shop as well as bluegrass music and activities such as stilt walking classes. 

While there will be four or five of the same kiddy rides which take place in Belmont Center in May, “we are not trying to mimic [Town Day] but wants to keep it locally grown,” said Thomajan who has received help organizing the event from Gerry Dickhaut, owner of Champions Sports Goods in Belmont Center and chair of the Belmont Center Business Association which manages the annual Town Day celebration.

“To have a fall event and a May event in Belmont should work well,” she said.

“This sounds exciting,” said Selectman Adam Dash. “You guys have put up with so much with construction; this is the least we can do.”

Starbucks Coming Down Wednesday; Disruptions To Cushing Sq. Traffic

Photo: The work is underway at the newly dubbed Bradford in Cushing Square.

The Starbucks Cafe has closed and the Trapelo Raod is about to be dug up as the developer of the Cushing Vill … The Bradford prepares to move forward with excuvation and infrastructure work at the 167,000 sq.-ft. residential/retail/parking complex.

Otto Weiss, project manager for Toll Brothers Apartment Living who is building the development told the Belmontonian on Tuesday, June 7, construction is “on schedule” and, weather permitting, the foundation for the Winslow – the first of three buildings on the site located at the former municipal parking lot adjacent Trapelo Road – will be poured in early August. 

He also said the company will officially take possession of the now closed Starbuck’s cafe on Monday, June 12 and the building – which was constructed as a Friendly’s restaurant in the 1970s – will be razed starting on Wednesday, June 14. 

In preparation to the demolision, “[o]n Monday (June 12) we will relocate site fencing that runs behind Starbucks to the curb at Trapelo Road and tie it into the fence running from the corner of Common Street,” said Weiss in a press release sent on Friday, June 9. 

The side walk between Williston and Common Street along Trapelo road on the project side will be close to pedestrian traffic and signage will be installed instructing pedestrians to cross the street at Williston Road and Common Street.  

All utility cut offs will be performed on Monday, June 12, weather permitting, which will require utility crews with trucks working in the street. Police details will start at 7 a.m. on Monday.

The utility shut-offs should not affect service to the surrounding community, said Weiss.

“However the various utility companies may inform you of shut offs need to accommodate their work. That would be out of our control. If we are notified of any suck shut offs we will pass the information along immediately,” he said.

Cushing Square Starbucks To Close Noon, Monday, June 5

Photo: Farewell, espresso friend.

In the coming fortnight, you’ll have to find any other place to spend a few hours of free wifi and strong coffee in Cushing Square.

The notice has been taped to the front door of the Trapelo Road Starbucks: the final day of operation will be Monday, June 5 at noon. 

Not that the shutdown comes as a surprise to anyone as Toll Brothers, the developer of the 167,000 square foot apartment/retail/parking project once known as Cushing Village before a name change to The Bradford, stated in February of last year the popular hangout for students, seniors, and general layabouts would be demolished soon after construction began.

With the already limited parking reduced to a handful of spaces due to work around the site, the store’s hours were cut in the past few week to where it will be open only seven hours during its final week of operations.

While the building, built as a Friendly’s restaurant in the 1970s, will soon be coming down, like the legionary Phoenix Starbucks will return in just over a year’s time, to occupy a significant space in the residential/storefront building – dubbed the “Winslow” – under construction on the grounds of the former municipal parking lot.

Bradford [Ex-Cushing Village] Update: Purple Water? That’s OK; Starbucks Winding Down

Photo: A big purple hole in the ground.

As the digging on the future home of Cushing Vill … sorry, The Bradford is speeding along on schedule, more than one resident who spied into what will become the foundations of the three buildings making up the 164,000 sq.-ft. complex of apartments, stores, and parking in Cushing Square was taken aback by the rather strange purplish hue to the ground water and soil in the pit.

Did the contractor Nauset Construction find something no one was expecting to discover?

One person who did take notice was the Otto Weiss, the project manager for Toll Brothers Apartment Living, the Bradford’s owner/developer.

“[Y]ou may notice that the color of the treated soil and any surrounding water is clearly purple,” said Otto Weiss, the project manager for Toll Brothers Apartment Living, the Bradford’s owner/developer.

What nearby neighbors had noticed was just what the team was expecting to find.

“This is a normal reaction of the treatment process and is not a cause for alarm,” noted Weiss in an email project update.  

“I realize you may have questions and as always I will do my best to answer,” said Weiss, who can be contacted at

Weiss said the treatment process that was approved earlier this year by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will take about one more week to complete, at which time the site will undergo several weeks of testing and approvals before the removal of the soil.  

Ongoing air testing and monitoring continues uninterrupted, “and to date we have not seen any results that cause concern,” said Weiss.

The signs the popular Starbucks cafe, located on Trapelo Road in the middle of the active construction site, is winding down operations is literally on its doors. A pair of notices referred customers to big changes to the hours of operations – the store will close at 5 p.m. starting May 22 and at noon a week later on May 29 – and a “thank you” note to customers are located at both entrances and inside the not so busy store.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding as we prepare for this store to close,” said Store Manager Matthew Thompson.

No closing date has been provided. Toll Brothers said a new Starbucks will be opening in the early fall of 2018 in the “Winslow” building which is located on the former municipal parking lot.

So Long, Cushing Village; Say Hello to ‘The Bradford’

Photo: Otto Weiss, the “Bradford’s” project manager.

A sly smile crossed Bill Lovett’s face like he had a secret he wanted so badly to tell.

So he did.

Lovett, a senior development manager at Toll’s Apartment Living which owns the 168,000 sq.-ft. apartment/retail/parking complex set to be built in the heart of Belmont’s Cushing Square told the 40 residents who flocked to the Belmont Gallery of Art on Thursday afternoon, April 27, came to hear the latest on the project, that a significant change had occurred in the development.

The name. Goodbye to Cushing Village, the moniker was first given the project nearly a decade ago by the project’s initial development team.

Welcome to Belmont: “The Bradford.”

“Like the pear or tree,” said Lovett, likely referring to the Bradford pear tree, the ornamental fruit tree known for its snowy white spring blossoms and sweet smell that lasts for a quite a long time.

“Hold your applause,” said Lovett, as the residents reacted rather nonplus to the announcement. 

Oh well.

Lovett, who was joined in the meeting by Otto Weiss, the project manager, and architect Peter Quinn, said the name change was proposed by the project’s marketing team to provide a new image to the project. 

Apparently, the marketing team didn’t know of the tree’s increasingly horrific reputation among garden club enthusiasts, city planners, and arborists, all who have increasingly come to hate the Bradford with a passion. As the New York Times noted last year, “Today, the Bradford pear may be the most despised tree in this part of the world.”

Apart from the name change, most of the news that came from the Toll Brothers team were updates on the construction of the three building project and minor alterations to the development.

Regarding development, Weiss told the audience that the excavation of the municipal parking lot adjacent to Starbucks and Trapelo Road would begin Monday, May 1 and last three to four weeks.

After the digging is finished, laying of the foundation for the retail/residential building known as the Winslow will begin. Simultaneously, the evacuation of the former CVS/First National site (dubbed the Hyland) will commence, said Weiss. That location will house a portion of the parking garage.

Currently, the project area, which has the appearance of a strip mine, is undergoing “dewatering” as the ground water is being decontaminated on the site before being released into the public system. The soil is also being treated and being sent to offsite locations. 

Once all the necessary regulatory “is are dotted and ts crossed” construction will begin in earnest with the Winslow being completed and ready for both residential and commercial occupancy in July/August of 2018. It will also be the new home of Starbucks, the only retail lease the firm has signed so far.

The Hyland is scheduled to be open in December 2018, with the centrally located Pomona building, which includes 20,000 sq.-ft. of retail, opening in June 2019. The development is expected to be fully occupied and all detail work finished by the first day of 2020.

(As an aside, Lovett said other than the Winslow, the names of the two other buildings could be given new names. “We didn’t want to call them Building 1,2,3. But there could be changes in Phase 2.”)

In other news concerning the Bradford:

  • The number of apartment units in the three buildings has been decreased from 115 to 112, and the total number of bedrooms have fallen by ten as the units have slightly increased in size in some locations. 
  • Changes have been made to exterior design features on each of the buildings – larger, more prominent windows, new material, removal of some architectural segments – “but we have not increased the size or scope of the building as noted in the Special Permit,” said Lovett.
  • The rooftop area on the Winslow has been removed, leaving only the Hyland to have a common area on its roof for residents. But don’t expect to see wild, 20-somethings partying hardy on the deck as “those elements” do “in Alewife or East Cambridge” noted Lovett. “It’s going to be a different feel” at the Bradford, “a more refined” lifestyle from a “different demographic.” 
  • The rents for units have not been set “as it will adjust to the market” with the opening of each building. 
  • Parking for construction workers will be provided off-site.
  • While it’s a certainty that Trapelo Road will need to be dug up to supply utilities to the project, all repair work to the roadway will be extensive including milling and resurfacing an entire segment of the street. 
  • When asked if bars or other alcohol-related businesses could go into the 34,000 sq.-ft. of retail space, Lovett said commercial areas are condominiums like the rental units and “we’re very restrictive on retail uses.” 
  • Yes, dogs and cats will be welcomed in Cushing Vil …. oops, The Bradford.

Toll Bros Update of Cushing Village Development Thursday, April 27

Photo: Under construction.

The developer of the Cushing Village project now under construction in Cushing Square will hold a public meeting this week to provide residents an update on where the development is at and where it is going.

Toll Brothers Apartment Living, the apartment development division of Toll Brothers, Inc., the nation’s premier builder of luxury home, is hosting the meeting on Thursday, April 27, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Belmont Art Gallary on the third floor of the at the Homer Municipal Building

Toll Brother officials will discuss the status of the project and construction schedule. The Cushing Square project calls for construction of three mixed-use buildings, which will include retail space on the ground floor and 115 apartments above.

Cushing Village Update: Dig, Dig, Dig; Starbuck Around ’til July 4th?

Photo: Diggin’ it in Cushing Square.

Dig this … which is exactly what construction crews are doing on the proposed site of Cushing Village, according to developer Toll Brothers.

In his monthly update, Otto Weiss, the project manager for Toll Brothers’ Apartment Living division which is building the 168,000 square foot development in the heart of Cushing Square, said the project was on the ground as the site was being prepared for the building of the foundations for the three-building complex.

Current site activities include:

  • Moving dewatering equipment onto the location along Trapelo Road where they will begin the dewatering the soil on the week of April 3
  • The pavement in the former municipal parking lot and the foundations of the old buildings along Common Street has been removed.
  • Public comments and responses to the company’s Release Abatement Measure (RAM) Plan have been uploaded to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Next up for the project include:

  • Excavation and soil removal in the former parking lot will begin in a week or two.
  • Detailing the architectural plans continues during the coming months.
  • Foundation construction for the Winslow Building – located on the municipal lot –  will begin in the Spring.

As for the last tenant on site, Starbucks will remain open until late Spring/early Summer this year, according to Weiss. 

Cushing Square’s New (Temporary) Skyline As S.S. Pierce Building Tumbles

Photo: Open space in Cushing Square.

For 102 years, the prominent three-story brick and frame building stood at the corner of Common Street and Trapelo Road, home for much of that time of the Belmont branch of the S.S. Pierce grocers.

On Monday, Feb. 20, the century-old Cushing Square landmark came tumbling down as the Cushing Village development prepares to move forward with the first major construction event, the excavation of the foundation and parking garage at the 164,000 square-foot project.

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The demolition of the two-story building designed by architect H. Thaxter Underwood – who also designed the Police Station and the demolished Underwood Pool Bathhouse and the first Chenery Middle School – was set for the Presidents’ Day holiday to limit traffic and parking disruptions as the large excavators pulled down the building away from the intersection.

The only business remaining at the site is Starbucks in the former Friendly’s restaurant. It is scheduled to close in the next few months to allow for the construction of the building on the former municipal parking lot. That structure – which will house a new Starbucks – will be completed by the early summer of 2018.