Major changes, including name change, coming to Cambridge Plaza

CAMBRIDGE — The current Cambridge Plaza with its many vacant storefronts including the sites of the former Kmart and Super Fresh will soon be redeveloped and renamed Cambridge Marketplace. As part of the coming changes, representatives from the developer, Fairchild Properties, are negotiating with Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and a supermarket.

Charlie Fairchild and is wife Sue Fairchild operate Fairchild Properties from Alexandria, Va. This past week, Fairchild Properties presented a concept plan for Cambridge Marketplace to the Cambridge Planning and Zoning Commission. Speaking Friday following the planning commission meeting, Mr. Fairchild said there are big changes in store for the property. This includes demolishing roughly 200,000 square feet, or the majority of the present buildings.

The site work will be completed in three phases according to Mr. Fairchild. The first phase includes a redesigned entrance with green space, a new sign and fountains. The first phase will also include changes to the building that currently houses the Salvation Army store. That building now contains about 71,000 square feet of floor space on that side. Mr. Fairchild said he intends to demolish part of that building and leave 40,784 square feet. Currently, about 20,000 square feet of the building is vacant.

While the Salvation Army will leave the site, “pretty much 80 percent of current tenants will remain,” Mr. Fairchild said. “We’re going to be creative to give it character.”

A portion of the demolished building will be used for parking. The rest of the building will get a new, higher roof and an updated facade. While most of the current tenants will remain, Mr. Fairchild said a new business will occupy some of the space but he could not yet disclose which business is coming. Fairchild Properties is scheduled to close on the property Feb. 1. Phase one work will begin soon after.

“Phase one will probably be completed in early spring,” and then work will begin on phase two, Mr. Fairchild said.
Major demolition will come in phase two. The building that once housed Kmart, at about 117,000 square feet, will be knocked down. The old Super Fresh building, the former social services building and the building that once housed the liquor store and China Buffet will all be demolished as well.

A new grocery store will be built near the site of the old Super Fresh building. Mr. Fairchild said he is confident a supermarket is coming, but he cannot yet announce which store. Another pad site will be developed near the supermarket. Mr. Fairchild said he is still seeking an occupant for the pad site.

As part of phase two, on the other side of the new entrance, the Taco Bell will move to a brand new building near where the vacant China Buffet building is now. Kentucky Fried Chicken will not be included in the move. Mr. Fairchild said he is currently negotiating with Starbucks which will likely move into the building where Taco Bell/KFC is now, and that building will be improved. Mr. Fairchild is also negotiating with Chick-fil-A which will likely occupy a new building between the new Taco Bell and Starbucks.

What will become of phase three for the long term is yet to be determined. Phase three covers the approximate area where the old Kmart and social services buildings are now.

“We’re going to screen phase three until it’s ready,” by planting $35,000 to $40,000 worth of pine trees, Mr. Fairchild said.
“It’s going to put Cambridge on the map,” Mr. Fairchild said of the redevelopment. “We’re changing Cambridge. It’s going to be fun. Phase three will come.”

Mr. Fairchild said that while he was negotiating to purchase and develop the property, many commercial brokers said the highest and best use for the site was a truck stop, but he had another vision in mind.

“It was not easy to get here,” Mr. Fairchild said.

For his vision for the property to be viable, Mr. Fairchild said he needed to get the State Highway Administration to grant him the service road that connects to Route 50. He said SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer, who is set to retire at the end of the year after 55 years of service, studied the project and agreed Mr. Fairchild’s vision was needed in Cambridge. Mr. Fairchild, Mr. Drewer, members of Cambridge Planning and Zoning, and public works then met with SHA representatives who granted the service road to Fairchild Properties.

Mr. Fairchild said he couldn’t have made his vision a reality without help from Mr. Drewer and many people who work for the city including in the Economic Development office.

“We finally did it and we got it by being persistent,” Mr. Fairchild said. “We’ve got a lot of believers in Cambridge right now so we want to keep the momentum going and more good things will come.”

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