From Dave Brigham:
We received more comments on a post I wrote about a former dive bar in Waltham, MA, than on any other piece we've done over the last 5+ years (see August 25, 2011, "Goodbye Reef, So Long Bill", and please scroll down and read the comments). Today I've got an update on the building, which also housed a few other small businesses.
First, some background. I'd driven by The Reef numerous times but never stopped in. In my biased view, I figured the place was kind of crappy and populated by old men in sleeveless t-shirts drinking Bud Light and eating pickled eggs out of a jar on the top of the bar. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Ignorant of the deeper history of The Reef, and so many other places in Greater Boston that I've photographed and written about here, I find it easy to forget that these places were once people's hangouts, homes, places of business. So I was more than happy when comments from former Reef regulars clued me in to what a great place the bar was.
The building sat empty for a few years, but I knew it was just a matter of time before the site would be redeveloped. Literally steps from a commuter train line and right around the corner from the dozens of restaurants and shops on Waltham's Moody Street, this site was ripe for change.
Sure enough, over the last several months it's been knocked down and built up. To be known as Waltham Landing, the building will feature 34 apartments and 8,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level.
I like that the architecture echoes some nearby homes, including a historic inn that was converted to apartments.
Here's what the place used to look like, from the opposite direction:
Redevelopment is what this country is all about, so it's no surprise when a run-down building with a few small businesses gets torn down in favor of sleek apartments and shiny new stores. But it's unfortunate when working class gathering spots are sacrificed in favor of generic smoothie joints, frozen yogurt stores and coffee shops. There are still dive bars in Waltham, but with demographics changing more of them are sure to shutter.