‘And There Are Pansies’ As You Travel Through Cushing Square [Video]

Photo: Artist Grace Julian Murthy working on her traffic signal control canvas painting pansies.

On a recent Sunday afternoon in August, a day after one of the handful of heatwaves that settled over New England was finally pushed aside, pansies appeared in Cushing Square.

They weren’t the ones emerging from a pot or some lonely stretch of earth. Rather it was the impression of viola tricolor var. hortensis by the artist Grace Julian Murthy who used as her canvas the traffic signal control box on the sidewalk adjacent the Bradford Apartments at the corner of Common and Trapelo.

“I like to paint things that are overlooked,” said Murthy, who works as a graphic designer. “Because pansies are so prevalent, you don’t get to see there beauty.”

Using acrylics (it dries quicker and has a vibrant palette) Murthy applied purple, yellow and black on a white base to create a field of pansies all within the aluminum box – originally a dark green – protecting the expensive signal and traffic controller equipment inside.

Murthy was one of three artists selected to paint boxes by the Belmont Art Association which sponsored for a second year the Transforming Belmont Public Art Project. The artists received a $750 stipend from the Belmont Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.

Cushing Square Paving Set For Thursday, July 16; Seek Alternative Routes

Photo: The Bradford in Cushing Square.

As the construction of the Bradford, the Toll Brothers Apartment Living project in Cushing Square nears completion, the developer is finishing the restoration of the roads this week.

On Thursday, July 16, paving will occur on the following locations:

  • Trapelo Road, from Williston Road to the main intersection at Common Street;
  • Common Street, from Trapelo Road to Belmont Street; and
  • The main intersection up to the crosswalk at the gas station at Common Street and Trapelo Road.

Appropriate signage will be in place, but the work will definitely impact traffic flow.

Toll Brothers’ Contact person is Steve Iacaboni and he can be reached at 978-870-0603.

Two Years In the Making: Starbucks’ Cushing Square Store Reopens Friday

Photo: Starbucks is open for business in Cushing Square.

Twenty-five months after its past location shut down, Starbucks has officially returned to Cushing Square as its spacious new store opens for business this morning, Friday, July 12.

The store will be open daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The international coffeehouse chain opening marks the first retail operation to take place in the Bradford, the three building housing/retail/parking development in the heart of Cushing Square, bordered by Trapelo and Williston roads and Common and Belmont streets.

The 42 seat store will have 25 to 35 employees working on the site. Currently, the new store does not have access to approximately 20 off-street parking spaces adjacent to the location as construction continues at the site.

Town Issues Cushing Sq. Starbucks Occupancy Permit

Photo: The location of the new Starbucks in town.

The Belmont Office of Community Development issued a certificate of occupancy to Starbucks Coffee Company on Tuesday, June 19, to allow its cafe at 110 Trapelo Rd. to open for business, said Glenn Clancy, the town’s director of community development.

“It will be opening up any day now,” Clancy told the Belmontonian at the School Committee meeting at the Chenery Middle School.

The cafe is located on the ground floor of the Winslow building in the Bradford development which occupies the block surrounding Common Street, Trapelo Road, Belmont Street, and Williston Road. The apartment/retail/parking project is being built by Toll Brothers Apartment Living.

The 42 seat store staffed with 25 to 35 employees will have approximately 20 off-street parking spaces adjacent to the location.

While the store will be open daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., the company will likely ask the town to approve a closing time of 10 p.m. which was permitted in the special permit approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Starbucks Returns To Cushing Square, Opening In Mid-June

Photo: Starbucks returns to Cushing Square.

Caffeine lovers, hipsters and teenagers, rejoice! Starbucks is returning to Cushing Square with an opening in the second week of June.

The multinational coffeehouse chain with 30,000 stores worldwide came before the Select Board on May 29 at Belmont High School to obtain a common victualler license which was granted unanimously.

“We’re still probably not going to be able to open for about another week or so trying to finish up the site, make sure it’s safe in the public,” said Daniel Brennan who works for dpb Design Consultants which partners with Starbucks on permitting and licensing.

“We don’t have a concrete [opening] date but after talking to the construction manager, it will probably be a week to two weeks after Friday [May 31], when we get our certificate of occupancy,” said Brennan.

Daniel Brennan, dpb
Design Consultants

Brennan said the store will likely have a “soft” opening. “[Starbucks] usually does a ‘friends and family’ where they invite the employees and their families so they can test out all the equipment and get it going,” he said.

The best approach for the public to know when the store is open “is go by and see people inside.”

Town Administrator Patrice Garvin noted the health department has signed off on the site.

The 42 seat store will have 25 to 35 employees working on the site. There will be approximately 20 off-street parking spaces adjacent to the location between two buildings.

While the store will be open daily from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Brennan asked the board to approve a closing time of 10 p.m. which was permitted in the special permit approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

“We will likely want the later time after it is open so we don’t want to come back for the change,” said Brennan.

Bradford Show And Tell: Material ‘Mock Up’ At Cushing Square Site Saturday, Noon to 2 PM

Photo: Residents view samples at the Sept. 6 Planning Board meeting.

The developer of the multifaceted complex in the heart of Cushing Square is inviting neighbors and the public on Saturday, Sept. 29 for a bit of show and tell.

Representatives of Toll Brother Apartment Living, owner/developer of The Bradford, the retail/housing/parking development under construction on three blocks along Common Street and Trapelo Road, is opening its doors just a tad to allow residents to view a “mock-up” of the materials to be used on the exterior of the three buildings occupying the approximately 170,000 square foot site.

From noon to 2 p.m., employees from Toll and Nauset Construction, the primary contractor, will escort groups from the “Winslow” building (the structure being constructed on the former municipal parking lot) along Williston Road to the area set aside for the demonstration. Citizens will then get to see the material – concrete, tiles, granite, and frames for the windows – and examine how they look in the daylight where they will be used. The developer stressed that the viewing is not a tour of the future landmark in Cushing Square.

Early this month, the Planning Board was provided a preview of the samples that will be on display. 

A Bit Of Oktoberfest At Cushing Square Annual Fall Festival

Photo: On tap at the Fall Festival

Today is the first day of Oktoberfest in Munich and Belmont’s Cushing Square is joining into the swing of things with the opening of a beer garden at the Cushing Square 2nd Annual Fall Festival which will be held on  to 

7th Wave Brewery of Medfield, known for its taproom that will fill growlers like popular breweries on the West Coast, will be filling glasses with samples from its stock for a $10 admission to the garden which will be separated from the rest of the festival, which remains a very family-friendly event with rides, animal events and booths from local stores.


  • 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Amusement rides
  • Noon – 4 p.m.:  7th Wave Brewery Beer Garden at CLC Cafe
  • 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.: Rain Forest Reptile live show
  • 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Cambridge Open Air Circus stilt walking classes.
  • 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Animal Craze petting zoo 
  • Noon: Dog Costume Show sponsored by Belmont Savings Bank 
  • 1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Cash Cube sponsored by Belmont Savings Bank

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.”