Small Retail Kiosks Approved at Arsenal on the Charles

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A set of three retail kiosks with rotating tenants will soon go up at the Arsenal on the Charles complex.

New owners of the complex, athenahealth, went to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday night for approval for what they hope are the start of turning part of the area into a retail corridor. The board approved it unanimously with conditions.

The three kiosks will have rotating offerings, including food, drink and other items such as jewelry, said Bridger McGaw, a spokesman for athenahealth.

“Someone could come for coffee on Monday, then go to the Clover Food Truck on Tuesday and realize he should come back on Thrusday because they have sushi,” McGaw said.

The kiosks will be installed temporarily on Kingsbury Avenue, the street that comes off Arsenal Street and goes between the large brick building and the green in front of the Arsenal Center for the Arts.

The kiosks will be installed along the path way along between the street and the green area, McGaw said.

Eventually, McGaw said, athenahealth hopes to bring restaurants and perhaps a beer garden to Kingsbury Avenue as it stretches off Arsenal Street toward the former power center with the tall smoke stack.

The Zoning Board had questions about what would happen to the kiosks, which measure 10-feet x 20-feet, and have an awning that measures 10-feet x 15 feet. The awnings would come down and the main kiosk could be picked up and stored in another location.

Board members also wanted to make sure the trees in the area are not harmed, and made a requirement that no trees could be removed unless they were dead or close to dying.

Changes have already been made to the complex, with the fountain that used to sit in the green in front of the Arsenal Center being ripped out and replaced with a lawn area.

Steve Magoon, the town’s director of Community Development and Planning, said there was nothing prohibiting them from removing the fountain, but he said they probably should have come to the town before doing so.

“I told them this is not the way to go about things in the future,” Magoon said.

The kiosks are the beginning of what athenahealth hopes is a major remodeling of the complex. They seek to add a garage along with the additional retail. The interior of current buildings will also be remodeled.

Neighbors living on North Beacon Street and Charles River Road complained that people working at the complex already park on their streets and sometimes block their driveways or make it hard to get out.

McGaw said there is free parking along Kingsbury Avenue and in the garage nearby.

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