What the Middle East residential expansion will mean for Central Square


When it came to planning the new development proposal that would add 100 homes atop the Middle East in Central Square, owners Joseph and Nabil Sater crowdsourced. That is, they held old fashioned town meetings for residents and other business owners to give input on an expansion that would dramatically alter the iconic stretch of Massachusetts Avenue where this restaurant and nightclub complex has operated for 40 years.

One thing on the community’s must-have list is more affordable housing — 20 percent instead of the standard 10 percent of space designated to most new developments. “They want solar energy and they want more space to live in, too,” Joseph Sater says. “They also want a garden on the roof — a community garden to grow vegetables.”

Rooftop vegetable growing is around four or even five years away, Sater estimates. But the basic plan is set and the ground floor — Middle East Upstairs and Downstairs, ZuZu and the bakery —  will remain as-is and open throughout the process. The second floor will serve as a public space where new tenants, like galleries, will act as a noise buffer between the residences upstairs and the clubs below. Once a compatible developer is found, the project will move to the city-permitting phase.

With the community behind the project, Sater hopes for fewer headaches down the line.

“We don’t want to upset any of our neighbors or the other businesses in the area. We say good morning to these people. We don’t want them to be uncomfortable with any of this. The Cambridgeport community is home for us,” he explains.

Another headache they hope to avoid is increased congestion in the already traffic-choked Central Square. “We want to work out a way with the city to provide scooters or bikes,” says Sater. “We don’t want residents to bring in cars. The Red Line is a minute away. People don’t want more cars.”

The Saters have already put a toe in development waters, turning a disused armory in Somerville into a community and arts center. Sater chuckles dryly, because that project was tiny compared to this. So why take on such a huge challenge?

“We had no choice: The property owner died and the estate wanted to sell. Another developer would have torn the whole place down. We aren’t ready to retire and close the Middle East.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Arts

EXCLUSIVE: Backstage with Adam Jacobs at 'Aladdin' on…

Metro shadowed Adam Jacobs backstage at "Aladdin" on Broadway.

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…