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Ribbon-cutting held for renovated $8.55m community center

Senior Center, Maple Street entrance, Sterling Associates rendering
Senior Center, Maple Street entrance. / Sterling Associates rendering

UPDATED April 28: A ribbon-cutting has been scheduled for the $8.55 million in renovations at the building long known as the Senior Center. After two years of phased work, the building is called the Arlington Community Center as it has reopened more fully in April.

The public is invited to the official opening event to be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 5.

The town invites the Arlington community to attend the event. It will feature remarks from Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine; Jennifer Raitt, director of planning and community development; Kristine Shah, Council on Aging director; and representatives from the Council on Aging Board and the Select Board.

A brief tour featuring an overview of the building renovations and improvements will follow. Refreshments will be provided, and members of the public are welcome to attend.

The Community Center Renovation Project was guided and overseen by the Department of Planning and Community Development with management support provided by the Permanent Town Building Committee.

The property is managed by the Arlington Redevelopment Board. In 2015 the Town created the Central School Feasibility Study Group, composed of representatives from Health and Human Services, Arlington Redevelopment Board, Town Manager’s Office, Arlington Seniors Association, Council on Aging and Capital Planning Committee.

Sterling Associates Inc. Architects conducted a feasibility study. The town then hired Vertex as the owner’s project manager and Sterling as the architect in 2017.

The project was bid in 2019. Work on the building, also known as the Central School (20 Academy St./27 Maple St.) began in March 2020. After two years of phased work, the Arlington Community Center reopened in part this March.

The project cost $8.55 million in Town capital funds. The Council on Aging and Arlington Seniors Association raised more than $170,000 from the community for the Center's new furnishings and the Cafe, Library, Art Room, Pool Room, and Yoga Room were sponsored by local families and businesses.

March 14 update

In an update March 14, Shah told YourArlington: "There is still construction happening here, mostly to the building entrances, so we only have a few in-person activities planned for March."

She wrote that an art therapy class is scheduled in the new arts-and-crafts room at month's end. as well as a handful of support groups meeting. This includes the AARP tax-prep program on the second floor. Other classes and activities mostly remain virtual or at Town Hall in March.

More in person/hybrid activities are due in April as construction lessens. Those involved are looking forward to the "Welcome Back Luncheon" at the center April 28, she wrote.

The council plans to hold a ribbon-cutting event, tours and other exciting opportunities to share the renovation with the residents as soon as construction allows, she wrote.

The council offices are moved and settled, and employees are meeting with residents on an appointment basis until the building is fully open.

"We don't recommend walk-ins due to the safety hazards that the construction creates," she wrote. "We are also still conducting a lot of business by phone and Zoom, so residents should feel welcome to reach out to us at any time."

For the most reliable source of updated programs and activities for older adults in Arlington, see the council's newsletter here >> 

This report updates a February town news release predicting the new center would open in March.

Reported earlier

Learn more on what to expect here >>

At 20 Academy and 27 Maple streets, the building is also known as the site of the former Central School.

The renovations began last year after Town Meeting appropriated more than $8 million. The project has three goals:

  • Develop a modern, expanded space on the ground and first floors dedicated to the Council on Aging, Arlington Senior Association, and community events and activities;
  • Improve major building systems, including HVAC, electrical, restrooms and the building exterior; and
  • Relocate the Health and Human Services Department, including Veterans’ Services from Town Hall, to renovated space on the 2nd floor. The building will also become fully accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project is expected to be completed in late spring 2021.
Planning began in 2015

Planning for the renovation began in 2015, when the town created the Central School Feasibility Study Group and then hired Sterling Associates Inc. Architects to conduct a feasibility study. The study group was composed of representatives from Health and Human Services, Arlington Redevelopment Board, town manager’s office, Arlington Senior Association, Council on Aging and Capital Planning Committee.

The study reviewed existing building conditions, considering current and projected programming in the building, and provided general specifications, drawings and estimated construction cost. Public input and dialogue on the feasibility study was held over 2016 and 2017. In 2017, after two separate requests for proposals, the town hired Vertex as the owner’s project manager, followed by Sterling as the architect to design plans that were responsive to the issues identified by the feasibility study. 

The Redevelopment Board maintains jurisdiction over the property as part of its urban-renewal fund started in the 1980s. In 1981, the town oversaw a feasibility study of the Central School building, concluding that it was ideal for social-service agencies and offices.

In 1982, a Senior Center Committee reviewed many sites and concluded that the Central School would be the most appropriate location for its center. By 1984, the town designated the Redevelopment Board as developer of the site. Community Development Block Grant, state, and town funds supported the $3 million rehabilitation project. On completion of the project, the 19th century structure, which was once the town's high school, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and added to the Pleasant/ Gray Street Historic District.  


June 17, 2019: $8 million Senior Center renovation plans detailed


This news announcement was published Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, and updated April 28, 2022.

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