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Rising Rents Push Out Iconic Businesses from the Square

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Rising Rents Push Out Iconic Businesses from the Square

Rent costs in Harvard Square are on a rise.

Rent costs in Harvard Square are on a rise.

Lucy Messineo-Witt

Rent costs in Harvard Square are on a rise.

Lucy Messineo-Witt

Lucy Messineo-Witt

Rent costs in Harvard Square are on a rise.

Anya Harp, Around School Editor

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Massive local outcry has sparked after the closing of a Harvard Square mainstay, Crema Cafe. For many, Crema’s closing is the latest reminder of the changing square, for other Harvard Square businesses have also been forced out. Co-owner Liza Shirazi, who opened Crema Cafe with her business partner Marley Brush, was unable to renew their 10-year lease, at which point they began a month-to-month lease. Unfortunately, they eventually lost the space due to the ever-increasing rent.

The holdings 1-8 and 17-41A Brattle Street, stretching from Black Ink through the former Crema and onto the recently established store Beyond, are worth an estimated $95 million, owned by the Dow and Stearns Family Trust. The Abbott Building, the Corcoran Building, and 18 Brattle Street are also owned by the Trust, and are part of new demolition and renovation plans for a proposed mall.

The project for the Corcoran Building, the triangular building sitting in the heart of Harvard Square housing stores such as the World’s Only Curious George Store, is named “The Collection at Harvard Square.” This project calls for the demolition of the building, planning to replace it with a new building, as well as making renovations and additions to neighboring buildings.

Crema Cafe is unfortunately not the only business that has lost their space due to the Trust’s renovation plans and the rising cost of Harvard Square real estate. The Crimson Corner, Hidden Sweets, Tory Row, and Café Algiers (after being open for over half a century) were some of the first businesses to shift the face of Harvard Square back in 2017.

“I think it’s a shame that more independent stores have had to close. They are trying to commercialize Harvard Square, but Cambridge is a local store-based community. When Hidden Sweets closed, I think that was the turning point for Harvard Square,” said Emma Beaumont-Smith, a senior at CRLS.

Lucy Messineo-Witt
Pictured: An empty Urban Outfitters.

On January 5th, Urban Outfitters, one of the most frequently visited stores by CRLS students, officially left their shop in the Corcoran Building. Tealuxe, which has called Harvard Square home for the past twenty years, had to close last month. Sweet, Harvard Square’s cupcake shop, has closed as well. But, according to their public address to the community, they remain hopeful that after the building renovations, the price on the lease could be renegotiated and they will be able to return to the space.

The iconic Harvard Square apparel store J. Press has also closed after 86 years in that location. “J. Press had been in negotiations with the building’s landlord for terms to maintain its current location on Mount Auburn Street; however, the two parties were unable to come to an agreement,” read a statement issued in the name of Jun Murakami, president of J. Press USA.

Cambridge locals, including many CRLS students, are unhappy with the massive turnover in the Square.

“Harvard Square isn’t what it used to be,” laments senior Mary Keegan. “People used to go to hang out in the Square all the time, but now no one wants to go anymore because it’s boring. It doesn’t surprise me that Harvard Square stores are closing. There just aren’t enough people inside the stores.”

The project for the Corcoran Building, the triangular building sitting in the heart of Harvard Square housing stores such as the World’s Only Curious George Store, is named “The Collection at Harvard Square.” This project calls for the demolition of the building, planning to replace it with a new building, as well as making renovations and additions to neighboring buildings.

Lucy Messineo-Witt
Pictured: A closed Crema Cafe.

Crema Cafe is unfortunately not the only business that has lost their space due to the Trust’s renovation plans and the rising cost of Harvard Square real estate. The Crimson Corner, Hidden Sweets, Tory Row, and Café Algiers (after being open for over half a century) were some of the first businesses to shift the face of Harvard Square back in 2017.

“I think it’s a shame that more independent stores have had to close. They are trying to commercialize Harvard Square, but Cambridge is a local store-based community. When Hidden Sweets closed, I think that was the turning point for Harvard Square,” said Emma Beaumont-Smith, a senior at CRLS.

On January 5th, Urban Outfitters, one of the most frequently visited stores by CRLS students, officially left their shop in the Corcoran Building. Tealuxe, which has called Harvard Square home for the past twenty years, had to close last month. Sweet, Harvard Square’s cupcake shop, has closed as well. But, according to their public address to the community, they remain hopeful that after the building renovations, the price on the lease could be renegotiated and they will be able to return to the space.

The iconic Harvard Square apparel store J. Press has also closed after 86 years in that location. “J. Press had been in negotiations with the building’s landlord for terms to maintain its current location on Mount Auburn Street; however, the two parties were unable to come to an agreement,” read a statement issued in the name of Jun Murakami, president of J. Press USA.

Cambridge locals, including many CRLS students, are unhappy with the massive turnover in the Square.

“Harvard Square isn’t what it used to be,” laments senior Mary Keegan. “People used to go to hang out in the Square all the time, but now no one wants to go anymore because it’s boring. It doesn’t surprise me that Harvard Square stores are closing. There just aren’t enough people inside the stores.”

 

This piece also appears in our January 2019 print edition.

About the Contributors
Anya Harp, Around School Editor

What elementary school did you go to?

Haggerty

What other activities are you involved in at CRLS and/or in the community?

Sisters On The Runway,...

Lucy Messineo-Witt, Photography Editor

What elementary school did you go to?

Shady Hill School

What other activities are you involved in at CRLS and/or in the community?

Sisters on...

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Rising Rents Push Out Iconic Businesses from the Square