Location: The area known as the Inner Belt and Brickbottom Districts is a 160-acre light industrial zone located in the southeast corner of Somerville. It is surrounded by the McGrath Highway, Washington Street, and I-93, and the Lowell and Fitchburg rail lines.
Access: The Inner Belt/Brickbottom area is accessible from I-93 and State Route 28. It is 1.5 miles from downtown Boston and will be a site for a future Green Line MBTA station. It is within a half mile of Sullivan Square on the Orange Line and has access to stops on the following bus lines: 80, 86, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 101, 109, 194, 911, and CT2.
Attractions: Brickbottom is known for its vibrant artist community. The Inner Belt district is connected to the fiber optic loop around Boston and Cambridge, making the Inner Belt/Brickbottom area very competitive for telecommunications and other high tech users. Currently, the district houses UPS distribution facilities, a MBTA/Amtrak office building, MassEnvelope, Partners Health Care Systems, and the Holiday Inn, as well as one of the largest artist communities under one roof in the United States.
History: This area was originally marshlands and experienced little growth until the early nineteenth century when railroads were established. At the end of the nineteenth century, the McLean Asylum, which had been a major landmark of the area, was demolished to make way for the extension of the rail lines. Cobble Hill was leveled to fill in the marshy areas and make way for the development of the current industrial district. Construction of the Inner Belt Highway, which would have run directly through the area, was halted in 1970, but not before much of the existing neighborhood had been razed.
Ongoing Development in Inner Belt/Brickbottom
The goal of the redevelopment of Inner Belt/Brickbottom is to expand the uses of the area and increase the access to the region by reconnecting it to the rest of Somerville as well as to Boston and Cambridge. The planned development aims to accomplish the following:
- Create mixed use development;
- Enhance transit access;
- Rework infrastructure;
- Strengthen the public realm by creating open space;
- Connect to a network of accessible districts; and
- Leverage life sciences and institutional convergence with neighboring university facilities.
Edge as Center: Envisioning the Post-Industrial Landscape
"The Edge as Center international urban design ideas competition was organized by OSPCD in partnership with the Boston Society of Architects. The competition sought redevelopment strategies and design visions for the Brickbottom area of Somerville, inviting entrants to envision the future of a pivotal 45-acre industrial site in close proximity to downtown Boston."
--Edge as Center, ed. Anya Bokov
The design ideas were made into a book which can be purchased for $19.95 at OSPCD at Somerville City Hall, or by calling 617-625-6600 ext. 2500.