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Vacancy Vision: What Should Fill This Empty Building in Davis Square?

Whatever moves into the old Social Security office will help define the neighborhood. What would you like to see there?

Update, Feb. 2: Charles River Realty, the real estate firm handling this property, said negotiations are currently under way for a new commercial tenant.


Empty storefronts and unused commercial spaces are eyesores, but an empty storefront can also be an opportunity; they allow new, exciting, desired businesses to move into neighborhoods. 

With "Vacancy Visions," we feature an empty space somewhere in the city and ask one question: If you were king or queen of Somerville, what would you put there?

Today's vacancy vision: the old Social Security office in Davis Square

The office, in the heart of Davis Square, closed down in the summer of 2010, and it's still empty today.

A discussion that summer on the Davis Square Live Journal community site indicates the space, before it was a Social Security office, was home to a small department store.

Chowhound, a popular food and dining website, notes Tasty Burger is planning to open a Davis Square location, and one commenter speculated the old Social Security office could be the spot it's looking at.

What do you want there?

If you were king or queen of Somerville, what would you put in that space?

Some suggestions:

  • A hardware store—Over the summer . A few people said they'd like a hardware store.
  • A grocery store—With nearby possibly closing down to become a frozen yogurt joint, Davis Square will be left with few places to buy basic groceries.
Amanda Kersey February 02, 2012 at 01:24 PM
If I were the queen of Somerville, I would put in that space a hardware store that also sold an abundance of kitchen supplies. When shopping for food in the square, I usually go to Dave's Fresh Pasta- or in the summer- the farmer's market. But when I need a tool that I can't find at the Goodwill store or that's best to buy new (like tupperware), I have to go to Tags in Porter Square or Target. I wish I could shop for those things closer to home.
Lucas Friedlaender February 02, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Somerville has a few good left over bakeries from generations past, but where is the delicious crusty bread and bagels? Where are the high end European style desserts? Hi Rise bakery crossed with Burdics chocolates. Selling true bagels by the dozen. This is what Davis Square needs.
Jodie Dow-Novaes February 03, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Jonah Petri February 03, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Some ideas: * Used book store * Tea shop (MEM tea storefront?) * +1 for bagel bakery
Chris Orchard (Editor) February 03, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Maybe a bookstore with a bakery that also serves coffee and tea. That combination seems to work well at Porter Square Books and other places. It's surprising there's no bookstore in Davis. Didn't there used to be a used bookstore -- like seven or six years ago -- across the street? Or am I making that up?
Amanda Kersey February 03, 2012 at 03:11 PM
A reader emailed me saying that she would like to see a pet store and clinic fill the vacancy.
Somerville Home Owner February 03, 2012 at 04:41 PM
used book store was already done, but rent got too expensive. There's one in Ball Square though. These are my ideas (wide variety): Trader Joe's. Sit down desert place that stays open late. Karaoke Bar. Children's entertainment, like Chucky Cheese. Art Supply and Picture Framing store. Authentic ethnic restaurant (not takeout / fast food): Brazilian, Salvadorean, Haitian.
cp kostos February 22, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I know.......what a nouveau idea! How about a trendy bar? we don't have enough drinking establishments in the square. Think of it. a bar on every corner and in every vacancy. Oh wait....we had that in the 60's and 70's and the crime rate was out of control. Well maybe just one more bar, it wouldn't hurt to try.
Vinnie February 24, 2012 at 04:05 PM
The Gap store.
cp kostos February 25, 2012 at 03:14 AM
The space is large enough to do an inside mall. setting up smaller spaces within the large space and creating small shops and areas for book store, florist, jeweler, cafe, specialty dress shop, arts crafts. One main entrance, handicap accessible rest rooms. This would make it affordable to the small independent shop owner as opposed to a national retailer with only a handful of employees. This would be a warmer more community based use. Just a thought.
Scott Gunther March 13, 2012 at 10:54 PM
We need a grocery store in Davis Square!
Matt C March 16, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I would be a fan of more small shoppes, interesting restaurants, or galleries, not really looking for big chain stores or big box shoppes/bars.


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