The Speedway Progress Update: May 2021

The Speedway courtyard in the evening
The lights are finally on at The Speedway.

The past few months have flown by, and The Speedway is almost ready to open! The site has changed so much since our New Year’s update: the courtyard has been made habitable, and the building interiors are well on their way there, too. Our anchor tenant, Notch Brewing, has started to outfit its space with machinery that wouldn’t be out of place in a steam-punk movie in preparation for its first small batches of Brighton-made beer. We’ve begun the process of moving our office from downtown Boston’s Old City Hall to The Speedway to be closer to the people we serve. Just last week, we introduced our newest vendor and put out a call for Allston-Brighton nonprofits to occupy a portion of the available office space. And soon we’ll announce an exciting group of creative operators who will fill the retail bays and help to turn The Speedway into the vibrant community gathering place we always envisioned it would be. Here’s a breakdown of the progress we made over the past four months:

1. Courtyard Is Complete

At long last, The Speedway’s courtyard looks like a space for people to have fun. Underground utilities, including a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly stormwater mitigation system, have been covered with gravel and beautifully patterned paving stones. A complex-wide sound system was installed to allow visitors to enjoy music while relaxing in the courtyard. Lamps and heaters were installed, ensuring year-round access to this outdoor area – a great idea during normal times that became absolutely critical in light of the pandemic. Speaking of accessibility, the decks, ramps, and handrails are ready for a steady stream of visitors of all ages and abilities. We’ve installed signage throughout the complex to orient visitors to the space and its history. All that’s left is for the beer garden furniture to arrive from Germany!

2. Notch Fit-Out

On April 22, The Speedway received an exciting delivery all the way from Vancouver: a control stand and brewing tanks for Notch’s Brighton location. This equipment brings much more than a steam-punk vibe to project. The control stand (left) regulates all process flow while turning grain into malt sugar before fermentation; the vertical cylindrical tanks (right, at left) are where the beer ferments; and the stacked cylindrical tanks (far right) are for lagering/ maturation. Once the beer is brewed, it will be served fresh in Notch’s new taproom, which is also nearing completion. The bar and seating area are under construction, and the space is being finished. We’re thrilled to see our anchor tenant’s space come together and look forward to seeing it bustle with activity in the months ahead.

3. Garage B at The Speedway

Introducing our event space, Garage B at The Speedway! The name for this 1940s-era garage was the subject of several intensive brainstorming sessions, during which we considered a range of possibilities, including The Annex and The Loft. But since the space is neither of these things, we settled for good, old historical authenticity. Garage B offers 3,300 sq ft of interior space and 1,700 sq ft of private courtyard space, and can accommodate up to 240 people. The building’s large garage doors open to the outside, providing the option of significant airflow for those taking extra COVID precautions. Now that Massachusetts is beginning to open up, we’re taking reservations for private, community, and corporate events for mid-June and beyond.

4. Office Space Available

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that there’s no replacement for in-person interaction. Several office and co-working spaces are available to rent in Buildings F and G, which includes a shared conference room and kitchen area. Tenants will be able to take advantage of The Speedway’s high-speed internet, which will extend throughout the complex to serve the visiting public in the courtyard and events in Garage B. In keeping with the legislation that allowed AHF to lease the property from DCR, we’re offering 300 sq ft of heavily discounted office space to an Allston-Brighton nonprofit. And we recently announced that we’re moving our own offices from Boston’s Old City Hall to The Speedway to be closer to the communities we serve.

5. Retail Bays Are Ready

What once was a collection of horse stables and storage sheds is about to open for business. Our friends at Bruner/Cott and D.F. Pray preserved the rough, utilitarian character of the stalls by exposing wooden beams and leaving some walls unfinished to highlight the wood grain. To keep the barriers of entry low for our creative operators, we finished the retail bays so that they’re ready for occupancy and are offering flexible lease terms with both short and long commitment options to accommodate the uncertainty that comes with running a small business, particularly during the pandemic. We’re excited for the eclectic mix of tenants who will operate the stalls. Speaking of which…

6. New Tenant!

We’re trilled to welcome our first creative operator to The Speedway! Joining Notch at the complex will be Tipping Cow, a Somerville-based manufacturer of gourmet, allergen-free ice cream. We can’t wait to sample the dozens of delicious flavors that the folks at Tipping Cow have dreamed up (blueberry lime cheesecake, anyone?). All of the ice cream is peanut, tree-nut, and sesame-free, and there is a wide selection of vegan options, as well. We couldn’t be happier that Tipping Cow has chosen to open its second location at The Speedway.

Next month, The Speedway’s doors will open. We hope to see you there.

The Speedway Western Ave. entrance opening to the courtyard

Architectural Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)3 dedicated to stimulating economic development in disinvested communities through historic preservation. Follow AHF and its projects on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

Learn more about the Charles River Speedway revitalization project.

The Speedway Progress Update: October 2020

Speedway interior under renovation

One year has passed since AHF broke ground at the Speedway. On that sunny October day, surrounded by our partners and neighbors, we never imagined that such a gathering soon would be impossible. Had all gone as planned, the Speedway would have opened to the public this month. The courtyard would have bustled with families and friends mingling over Notch beer, enjoying outdoor music, and browsing local artisans’ wares. But like everyone else, we had to take a step back when the pandemic hit. We’ve weathered construction delays, endured market uncertainty, and thought long and hard about which aspects of the project are still feasible in the age of COVID. The answer: almost all of them. Our vision for the Speedway is still on track – just delayed and slightly altered to meet public health standards. We have some exciting updates to share with you as we gear up for a Spring opening!

1. Tenant Tours

Last Wednesday, AHF teamed with GraffitoSPBruner/Cott Architects, and Business Guide and entrepreneur Maggie Battista to host our first tour of the Speedway for prospective creative operators. Six small-format spaces in the former sheds and stables of Building E are available for short-term leases with food and beverage operators, small shops, makers, and artisans. We were blown away by the tour attendees’ enthusiasm for the site, and inspired by the creativity and tenacity they’ve exhibited in growing their businesses. The day came to a close with a surprise visit from State Representative Kevin Honan. Our next tour is scheduled for Monday, November 16. See our Call for Creative Operators for more details and to complete a Submission of Interest Form.

Prospective tenants on a tour of the Speedway
Prospective tenants listen to Bruner/Cott’s Christopher Nielson during a tour of the Speedway.
Kevin Honan, Sean McDonnell, and Gustavo Quiroga at the Speedway
Pictured from left to right: Representative Kevin Honan, AHF President Sean McDonnell, and GraffitoSP’s Gustavo Quiroga.

2. Storefronts and Doorways Galore

Nothing makes us feel that we’re nearing the end of construction more than seeing graffitied garage doors and boarded up entrances replaced with new glass. Notch’s taproom has received the first storefronts, while Garage B, the Speedway’s future event space, was outfitted with glass doors. We can’t wait to see how elegant the Speedway looks once the rest of the storefronts are in place!

New storefront at the Speedway
The Speedway is being outfitted with new doors and storefronts.

3. Speedway Shingle Style

Our friends at D.F. Pray General Contractors have awed us with their skill and patience in installing the Speedway shingles – one at a time, and entirely by hand. Their hard work is paying off. Siding is nearly complete at the Speedway, which looks better and better with each passing day. Though we loved the buildings’ old brown color, we decided to restore the property to its original unpainted appearance. The Eastern white cedar shingles will weather over time.

Shingles at the Speedway
Siding is nearly complete at the Speedway.

4. A Four-Season Courtyard

AHF always envisioned the Speedway as a place for people to enjoy themselves in all seasons, and we knew that a publicly accessible courtyard would be one of the site’s best features. Now that the pandemic has discouraged indoor gatherings, the courtyard has become more important than ever. We’re fitting out the courtyard for lamp posts and gas heaters so that visitors can use the space comfortably even in the dark and chill of late fall and winter. Who knew that a police station and racehorse stables could be so hygge?

A DF Pray worker attaches shingles to the Speedway
D.F. Pray has nearly completed the siding at the Speedway.

5. Something’s Brewing in the Speedway Brewery

The buildout of Notch’s brewery and taproom has begun! Turns out brewing beer requires some complicated plumbing. During the fermentation process, beer acidifies quickly and corrodes conventional cast iron drainage pipes. To transport byproduct from the operation safely off the premises, we dug deep trenches in the future brewery’s floor and installed a special lined cast iron pipe. We’ve also installed the lines from the brewery to the taproom, which will bring freshly made beer to Speedway visitors. All this work is now buried beneath a newly poured concrete floor, hidden from view.

Notch Brewery's space under construction at the Speedway
Notch is beginning to fit out its brewery and taproom at the Speedway.

Notch is beginning to fit out its brewery and taproom at the Speedway.

As ever, a big thank-you to the Brighton community for supporting this project over the past six years. The Speedway couldn’t have gotten this far without community members’ ideas, encouragement, and advocacy. We look forward to sharing more updates as the project comes together.

AHF president Sean McDonnell speaks with a community member at the Speedway.
AHF president Sean McDonnell speaks with a community member at the Speedway.

AHF president Sean McDonnell speaks with a community member at the Speedway.

Architectural Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)3 dedicated to stimulating economic development in disinvested communities through historic preservation. Follow AHF and its projects on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

Learn more about the Charles River Speedway revitalization project.

Let’s work together.