Cambridge landmark Out of Town News will vacate its iconic kiosk in Harvard Square by the end of the month, and a communal pop-up space will move in temporarily before the decades-old structure and surrounding plaza are revamped next year, officials said Friday.
Aaron Greiner, founder of CultureHouse, said his nonprofit has reached an agreement with the City of Cambridge and plans to offer a platform for arts programming at the kiosk. He wants free, open-to-the-public events that could include live music, group meet-ups, and local art on the walls.
“We want it to be a meeting place,” he said.
The plan was first reported by WGBH.
Greiner aims to open the space to the community sometime in November or early December, and his group will manage the venue through the end of April. There will be no major structural changes made to the kiosk during that time frame, he said.
Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern and Vice Mayor Jan Devereux said Out of Town News will be out of the kiosk, which is owned by the city, by the end of October. It will be the latest business to leave the bustling district that has become increasingly pocked by vacancies and empty storefronts. Over the past three years, dozens of businesses have exited, including independently owned mainstays like Crema Cafe and Tealuxe, as well as major chains like Chipotle, Starbucks, and CVS.
The newsstand’s departure will mark the end of an era for the neighborhood; it has been a Harvard Square staple since its founding in 1954. For decades, local residents who wanted to keep up with the news — from Boston, London, or Paris — could turn to Out of Town News, which at its height sold 200 publications.
Both McGovern and Devereux welcomed the kiosk’s new, albeit temporary, tenant.
“Sadly, there’s enough dead space in Harvard Square, and [with] such a central location as the kiosk, to have that activated is going to keep things lively and exciting and that’s what we want,” McGovern said.
Devereux described CultureHouse, which currently operates a pop-up in Kendall Square, as young, energetic, and creative.
“I think it’s great,” she said.
The city plans to release a request for proposals for a future operator of the kiosk, Devereux said. The redevelopment that begins next spring will include new brickwork for the plaza and renovations to the kiosk that will respect “the landmark elements of it,” she said. The kiosk was built in 1927-1928 as a subway entrance.
Greiner’s group is receiving funding from the city for managing the kiosk space, but he declined to get into the specifics of the deal Friday.
“It’s enough for us to commit to the project,” he said.
He said CultureHouse will operate the space on a rent-free basis. McGovern and Devereux said they did not know the financial details of the deal.
Out of Town News is operated by Muckey’s Corp. of Pembroke. Attempts to contact owner Mike Patel were not successful Friday evening.
More than a decade ago, Patel helped save Out of Town News when he bought the business from New Jersey-based Hudson News and signed a lease for the kiosk in early 2009.
At the time, Hudson News decided against renewing the lease, citing a diminished demand for print news. Hudson had purchased the business in 1994 from founder Sheldon Cohen.