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"Faces" sign coming down Wednesday, club demolition to follow

Posted by Brock Parker  October 18, 2011 10:38 AM

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The old and dirty sign for "Faces" discotheque, which was covered earlier this year to appease neighbors, will be torn down Wednesday. Photo by Brock Parker.

It’s been an eyesore for Route 2 commuters for more than 20 years, but tomorrow the sign for the long-vacant “Faces” discotheque in Cambridge will come down.

Criterion Development Partners, which plans to build an apartment complex on the site of the old Faces nightclub, said this morning that they closed on the purchase of the property Monday and will tear down the “Faces” sign in a small, invitation-only ceremony Wednesday morning.

Jack Englert, a principal of Criterion Development Partners, said the removal of the sign is the symbolic start of the demolition of the old night club, which will begin in about two weeks.

“I think everyone is excited about seeing Faces come down, and many are excited about what we’re building in its place,” Englert said.

Cambridge’s Planning Board approved the plans for the apartment complex in March and at the time city officials said they were happy to see that the property is finally being redeveloped.

Criterion Development Partners has partnered with the McKinnon Co. on the project, and purchased the property from the Martignetti family, which owns the neighboring Lanes and Games bowling ally and the Cambridge Gateway Inn.

Englert said the apartment building will have 228 units with about the same number of parking spaces and will have a pedestrian access way to the Alewife T stop.

Criterion Development Partners and the McKinnon Company had proposed a similar redevelopment plan in 2008 for an apartment building on the site. But that proposal derailed during permitting process.

Englert said demolition of the discotheque will take about 30 days after the work begins in two weeks. After that, Englert said construction of the apartment building will begin and is expected to take about two years.

Interest in the demolition of the building has been high, as Englert said some people met their spouses at the old club, and others have requested pieces of the sign, which was covered earlier this year at the request of neighbors.

But Englert said Criterion Development Partners has decided to have a small, invitation-only ceremony for the demolition of the sign. He said there will be a groundbreaking ceremony at some point that may be more open to the public.

Wednesday, Cambridge Mayor David Maher is expected to attend the ceremony at 11:30 a.m. and say a few words before a front-end loader tears down the sign, Englert said.

“As the gateway to Cambridge really from the west, it’s been an important piece to the city for a very long time,” Englert said of the Faces property. “I think everyone is anxious to turn it around a little.”

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