THE BIKE KITCHEN: RECONNECTING THIS HISTORIC COMFORT STATION TO ITS TRANSPORTATION-RELATED ROOTS

Posted by Zachary Nieder on April 24, 2015

The Bike Kitchen_Exterior

Neighborhood-based economic development comes in many shapes and sizes—master plans to façade improvements, direct lending to mixed-use development. In the case of The Bike Kitchen, economic development may come in the form of a century-old Comfort Station (e.g. public restroom) located in the heart of Upham’s Corner repurposed and reimagined as a full service bike shop, café, and community hub.

1933 Map_Upham's CornerThe Comfort Station, originally built as a component of the extensive streetcar network which ran along Columbia Road, abuts the historic North Dorchester Burying Ground, and has been vacant since the mid-1970s. The building, with its distinct terracotta roof, has been the focus of repeated efforts by the city to find a new, productive use for the building, and the city issued a new RFP for the building in Fall 2014. 

For TACC, this type of work falls right in our wheelhouse and aligns with our other place-based work in Upham’s Corner and Newmarket, requiring a focus on both envisioning strategies that can improve the built environment, but also linking this physical change to a thoughtful use that delivers community benefit.

The Bike Kitchen_HBI LogoWe worked in close collaboration with the non-profit developer Historic Boston Incorporated (HBI), and Noah Hicks, the founder of the Bowdoin Bike School, to craft a redevelopment proposal that would preserve an important piece of historic architecture, reactivate a long-abandoned building, and
reconnect the Comfort Station to its original transportation-related roots.

The Bike Kitchen LogoWe think this model of early, close partnership between developer, tenant, and non-profit is valuable, replicable, and scalable, and is a strong model to align projects with community preferences. The city’s disposition process continues to unfold, but we remain optimistic that The Bike Kitchen will soon find its home in the updated Comfort Station, and TACC will continue to support both HBI and Noah to achieve this goal.

For more information about the project, check out this recent article in the Bay State Banner and the project summary and renderings.

Be on the lookout for a final announcement from the Department of Neighborhood Development on May 20! 

The Bike Kitchen_Interior

ABOUT, ZACHARY NIEDER, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, TACC: Zach brings research experience in city planning, health policy, and international development to his work at TACC. Previously, he worked with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council on an assessment of hospital-based community investments in Massachusetts. In this capacity, he worked to shape policies that lead to more effective investments in the neighborhoods that the healthcare providers served. In addition, Zach managed the creation of a neighborhood revitalization plan with the City of Somerville on the MBTA Green Line extension into Union Square. Prior to graduate school, Zach worked as a researcher at both the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Center for Health Decision Science.

You can reach Zach by email at zachary_nieder@tamcc.org.