Where to begin? When we posted our first Speedway progress update in early March, we never imagined a pandemic would shut down renovations for a month. Nor did we expect that we would have to delay opening until winter, or that the restaurant and retail industries would be thrown into turmoil. While the Speedway construction site came to a standstill, AHF staff worked feverishly to adapt the project to a world of social distancing and economic disruption. Despite these challenges, we’ve managed to move the project forward.
During the shutdown, our main priority was to stay connected with our Brighton neighbors. To this end, AHF connected with State Representative Michael Moran, Charles River Community Health (CRCH), and local wholesaler Katsiroubas Brothers to help address more immediate needs in the community. The result is the Speedway Produce Program. Now in its eighth week, this initiative has delivered 320 boxes of fresh produce, as well as masks, to CRCH members experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic. AHF sponsored the first month’s worth of produce boxes; thanks to dozens of individual donations and a Harvard University Allston-Brighton Emergency Response Grant, we are able to extend the program until the end of July. Visit our GoFundMe page to help Brighton’s most vulnerable residents access fresh food through the summer.
Meanwhile, the Speedway rehabilitation has progressed by leaps and bounds! Construction restarted in early May after a month-long shutdown. Since then, our contractor D.F. Pray has worked hard to renovate the complex, and it shows:
If you’ve recently driven past the Speedway, you’ve probably noticed that the Western Avenue and Soldiers Field Road sides of the complex have gotten a makeover. Shingling is nearly complete on the buildings’ public-facing walls, transforming not only the Speedway, but the streetscape itself.
2. Repointing Masonry
The masonry of Buildings C and H is being repointed, creating a stable foundation for the buildings’ future tenants – Notch Brewery and a to-be-determined restaurant operator.
3. A New Roof for the Speedway
The Speedway has a new roof! Ensuring that the complex is water-tight was one of our main priorities when construction got underway again.
4. Restoring the Speedway’s Windows
For years, the Speedway’s windows were boarded up – the most visible sign of the blight that had set in at the site. Under the direction of DCR, a Student Conservation Association crew painted fake windows over the plywood, while the 169 real ones were locked away in storage. Now the original windows have been restored and are being re-installed. The difference is unmistakable.
5. Ramping and Decking in the Speedway Courtyard
AHF is particularly excited to activate the Speedway courtyard as a public space. Last week, D.F. Pray began laying the foundation for ramping and decking, which will make the courtyard accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
6. Interior Renovations
The interior framing of Buildings E, C, and D – future creative/retail bays and Notch’s brewery and taproom – has been restored, allowing for more extensive improvements. In fact, rough electrical work has begun in Building E!
Behind the scenes, AHF is preparing to open the Speedway in a radically altered environment. Stay tuned for future announcements as we approach the Speedway’s new opening date in winter 2021.
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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Learn more about the Charles River Speedway revitalization project.