Kennedy Grilled On Opening of Gaia Building Cultural Space

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday June 15, 2004

When Patrick Kennedy rose to address Zoning Assessment Board members about the Blood House during ZAB’s regular meeting last week, David Blake took advantage of the controversial developer’s presence to ask Kennedy about the long-empty “cultural use space” in the Gaia Building on Allston Way. 

By devoting the ground floor to cultural use, Kennedy was able to add extra height to the building under city regulations that give additional “bonus” space for cultural uses and dedicated low-income housing. 

The Gaia’s first projected tenant, the Gaia Bookstore, declared bankruptcy before the building was finished, and two other tenants fell through because of the high costs of finishing the space. The Gaia is now projecting using the space to house a jazz cafe to be owned and operated by local businesswoman Anna De Leon. 

Unlike the earlier would-be tenants, De Leon’s cafe is not a nonprofit organization. 

“You sent Anna De Leon here to argue successfully that we reduce” the building’s first floor cultural use space, Blake said, “and she hasn’t moved in yet. When is that going to happen?” 

When Kennedy said De Leon “is doing her improvements right now,” Blake again pressed for a date. 

“In as much as I’ve been saying this for the past three years, I’m reticent to suggest an actual date,” Kennedy responded, “but I think its safe to say that sometime soon after August she plans to be opening.”