Davis Square Pin-Up Ideas: 3 of 7

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This is the third of seven posts covering all of the ideas generated at the Somerville by Design: Davis Square Design Charrette that was held September 9-11, 2013. We have numbered all of the images so that it is easier to reference them when providing feedback.

You can send us feedback two ways: first, you can discuss a specific idea online by leaving a comment at the bottom of this blog post. Second, you can provide feedback using a feedback form that you can download (Pin-Up Feedback Form) and mail back to us using the address below. The form is designed to facilitate feedback for all of the ideas generated (over 45 in total) and should be used for all of the forthcoming blog posts, not just this one.

Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development
c/o Somerville by Design
93 Highland Ave.
Somerville, MA 02143

All of the images on this post can be downloaded as a .pdf here: Pin-Up Ideas 3

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Concept 20

This perspective sketch looks east, across Grove Street and up Highland Avenue (Kenney Park is on the right edge of the image).  A four-story building is imagined to replace the surface parking lot and the adjacent one-story pharmacy building.  The site is large enough to support a small, boutique hotel, and the location is close enough to the heart of Davis Square to make it attractive to independent, innovative hotel operator.

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Concept 21

This quick sketch imagines a radical expansion of Kenney Park southward across the parking lots.  A narrow, one-way access road connects from Grove Street to Highland Avenue along the east side of the park, and a narrow band of townhouses are shown facing westward to frame the space.

A concept originally considered in the 1982 Davis Square Action Plan is revisited here: creating a grocery store with structured parking on the northeast corner of Grove and Highland.  The ground-floor grocery store is built across the existing City-owned parking lot, creating urban edges for the corner.  A ramp system accessed from what is currently the rear parking lot would bring vehicles to a multi-story parking structure.

This sketch is also memorable for its creative approach to one-way and two-way traffic patterns at this often-congested corner.  Grove Street is imagined as a two-way street on its northern and southern edges, but the central portion adjacent to the park is one-way headed south.  Highland Avenue is envisioned as returning to two-way traffic, except for a short segment just east of the intersection.

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Concept 22

One of the more creative ideas to come out of the entire three-day charrette involves building a large underground parking garage beneath Grove Street and several surrounding properties.  A south-facing down ramp brings cars into the structure from Highland Avenue, and a south-facing up ramp returns them to street level at Elm Street.  In between, a single level of parking extends underneath Kenney Park, the privately-owned surface lots on either side of Grove Street, and under new buildings imagined for both corners of Elm Street and Grove Street.

Neighboring residential properties along Dresden Circle, and the buildings at the southwest corner of Highland and Grove are preserved and protected.  A garage this size could hold roughly 180 cars, and the expense of construction could be shared with commercial property owners realizing the benefit of new development revenue.

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Concept 22

Many participants in the “Somerville by Design” process have identified Grove Street as a major gap in the urban fabric of Davis Square.  Surface parking lots on both sides of the streets are obvious candidates for modestly-scaled redevelopment, but after conversations with property owners, business owners and nearby residents, a more ambitious idea began to take shape.

This perspective looks north up Grove Street from the corner of Elm Street.  One-story commercial buildings on each corner are re-imagined as three- and four-story mixed-use buildings.  New buildings are shown on the parking lots, and the historic brick apartment building at 18-20 Grove Street and Kenney Park are visible in the background.  Grove Street is envisioned as either a pedestrians-only plaza, or a limited-access shared street.  On the left side of the image, a one-way exit ramp is visible coming up from a large underground garage structure that runs underneath Grove Street and many of the abutting properties.  The garage concept is discussed in detail in a previous sketch plan.



  1. Rosemary Broome-Bingham

    I love the idea of a large parking garage beneath Grove Street. Not sure about the idea of expanded development — I don’t think Davis Square is ready for that much expansion but the parking garage gets my vote.

  2. Jeff R.

    I think we should be careful about how much new parking we’re bringing into the neighborhood. There are a lot of questions to consider.

    Have we studied how much more parking we really need? Can we do a better job of using existing commercial parking lots that sit empty at night? Can we put more resources into encouraging people to walk, bike and use public transportation when they have that choice, freeing up more space for people who have few options but to drive?

    More importantly, if we build all this new parking and expect it to fill up, will the streets be able to handle the amount of traffic that will bring? If we turn Grove street into a parking ramp (even in part), with cars moving in and out, how will that impact my experience as a pedestrian?

    As someone who chooses not to own a car (thereby freeing up parking for others), should I be offended when the City puts big money (underground parking = $$$$) into serving car owners at my expense?

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