There’s a great article in the Globe today on how Kendall Square reinvigorated itself through careful planning with an emphasis on attracting, supporting and developing independent, local businesses.
Kendall Square hasn’t gone from cultural wasteland to hotspot because it managed to fill empty storefronts with any business. It is humming because neighborhood leaders paid attention to who was filling those empty storefronts. Landlords and city officials came together purposefully to support local, independent businesses, and the response has been astounding. Nineteen independent restaurants have opened in Kendall Square over the past three years; not one has failed. These restaurants now provide the type of dining amenities Kendall’s neighbors and employers long clamored for. Because of their independent nature, they’ve also fostered a strong sense of community and local identity. Read whole article here.
I’ve worked in Newton for the better part of the last decade while living in Somerville. It’s been really interesting to simultaneously watch the changes in Newton’s villages and Somerville’s squares. Admittedly, in Somerville I have watched from the outside, benefiting from the time and energy of the city’s planners and vocal residents. In Newton though I have become friendly with many of the local businesses while promoting shop local initiatives and I would love to see these existing businesses thrive and welcome new ones. Reading this article made me wonder why we need The Street. As much as I love Pinkberry, Sweet Tart is just as tasty. And as exciting as it may sound to have a Del Frisco’s and Shake Shack, I really hope people are flocking to Farmstead Table, sycamore, and Waban Kitchen among others. The restaurant scene is becoming particularly exciting in Newton as Boston chefs, proprietors and managers are taking a risk and bringing the urban scene into our suburbia.
I think I’m a pretty standard 30-something. I’m not at the point in life where I’m looking to buy a house but when I am, I know there will be more to consider than living near a trendy neighborhood with great local eats, unique and independent businesses, and a solid and connected community. I’ll also consider where to raise kids, the public school system, and general safety and well-being. I truly hope that the Newton will be a community that can offer it all.