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Affordable housing to be explored for Preston Springs site
A new idea being floated in Cambridge could help the city solve two problems at once.
One of the issues at play is the fate of the former Preston Springs Hotel. Once a renowned hotel and hot spring which saw the likes of Babe Ruth and Lucy Maud Montgomery pass through its doors, the building has fallen into disrepair in recent decades.
Most recently, issues with vandalism and break-ins have led the site’s owner to board up some of the windows in a bid to make the building more secure, at the expense of making it appear a little less glamourous from the outside.
Mayor Doug Craig says the owner has been in talks for several possible redevelopment projects, but issues such as a lack of parking at the site have stopped any of them from going ahead.
“Because of the economics of the building, he can’t make it work,” Craig said Tuesday.
That’s where the second half of the idea comes in. While the city has a large, well-located building its owner is having trouble finding a use for, it also has hundreds of families looking for affordable housing.
Craig says the city’s waiting list for affordable housing currently has 400 names in it, with about 100 new units in the works. Converting the Preston Springs site into affordable housing units would help make a bigger dent in that list.
“We’re falling behind year after year,” he said.
“The springs, perhaps, may be an opportunity.”
The city has struck a committee to examine the issue further. Its first meeting takes place this week.
Coun. Donna Reid, who is part of the committee, says she hopes to get the other members on board immediately with a goal to find a way to reuse the building.
“The people in Preston have wanted something to happen with this building for years and years,” she said.
“If we don’t do something very soon, we’re going to lose the building. We can’t lose it by neglect.”
Craig agrees, echoing Reed’s concern that the building’s state of disrepair could soon reach a tipping point.
“I think it’s important that we try our very best, as a city, to make this landmark remain a landmark far into the future,” he said.
With reporting by Maleeha Sheikh