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Armory's Request for Extended Hours, Other Changes Approved

The arts venue previously said it couldn't survive unless the Zoning Board of Appeals changed restrictions placed on it.

The Center for Arts at the Armory will be allowed to open earlier, close later, increase its capacity, operate a kitchen, apply for a liquor license and create outdoor cafe seating, according to a decision by the Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Board voted on Oct. 17 to approve the changes, which the arts organization said were necessary for the venue to remain financially viable.

At a public hearing held in September, a lawyer for The Center for Arts at the Armory said the venue was struggling to attract performances and events due to restrictions on its capacity and hours or operation, among other things. Those restrictions were put in place when, in 2004, Joseph and Nabil Sater, owners of the Middle East in Central Square, bought the mostly vacant drill hall and converted it into an arts venue. Since then, it has become a mainstay of Somerville's cultural scene, hosting charity and arts events and the popular Winter Farmers Market.

The Board's decision extends the Armory's hours to 7 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. on weekdays. Perviously, it opened at 8 a.m. and closed at 10 p.m. 

On Fridays and Saturdays, the Armory will be able to open at 7 a.m. and close at 1 a.m. It previously opened at 8 a.m. and closed at 11 p.m.

The Zoning Board of Appeals also increased the capacity from 395 to 495 people. (In terms of building codes, the Armory could theoretically hold up to 904 people).

The Board also approved plans for the Armory to open a kitchen. Perviously, the cafe was restricted to serving uncooked snacks and food prepared off site. 

Also, the Armory's cafe will be allowed outdoor seating.

Finally, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted the Armory, which already has a beer and wine license, the opportunity to apply for a full liquor license.

Some neighbors of the Armory opposed the changes, citing disturbances such as noise from loud parties and bands, large delivery trucks idling at late hours and parking squeeze in the neighborhood.

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jo October 26, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Good idea Sand man.........thanks !
Courtney O'Keefe October 26, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Although I sympathize with the concerns of the abutters, I would encourage finding legal ways to deal with the issue. There are laws surrounding videotaping without consent: http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/massachusetts-recording-law
jo October 26, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Oh please !
Sand Man October 26, 2012 at 05:57 PM
If an Armory event is open to the public, and the event/participants are violating a local noise ordinance, then I question whether an abutter is violating the law by documenting the perpetrators! And to those of you who rhapsodize about a venue guilty of violating a local noise ordinance, disrupting the "quiet enjoyment" rights of abutters, your transiency is showing. (Try living near theTufts buttheads in West Somerville who continually disrupt the neighborhoods with their late-night carousing, public urination and vandalism; yeah, rhapsodize about THAT....)
Aidan October 26, 2012 at 07:28 PM
For the person who asked about the Armory's lies.....What they got now is what they originally asked for. They never intended to stick to the original agreement. Part of the agreement was that they not run 'times'. Lo and behold, they started having them right away, and you guessed it, for a politician. They were told in no uncertain terms that they could not have a kitchen and could not cook food on site. Lo and behold, they were found by inspectors to be installing a kitchen. This was a bag job by the administration. I don't even live near it, but I'm just sick and tired of this administration making developers and business owners richer while the residents suffer.

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