Video: ‘Gentrification Moving, Inc.’ holds farmers market protest

by Tom Nash on June 6, 2011

Around 20 members of the Somerville Community Corporation and residents of a section of buildings set to become condos brought signs, chants and a skit to the first Union Square Farmers Market of the season Saturday.

The rally, held in the center of the farmers market as shoppers looked on, began as a march from the affected block on Somerville Avenue. The protesters were followed by a truck full of furniture dubbed “Gentrification Moving, Inc.”

“We want our Union Square, not another Davis Square,” the protesters chanted in between market vendors. They also performed a skit in which “movers” attacking a poster of 380 Somerville Ave. with baseball bats.

The proposed development, which includes 30 condos and four retail units on top of 378-390 Somerville Ave., will involve gutting a building that houses both residents and two businesses who say they will be priced out of the units that will be built.

Malek Bouzahar, who lives at 382 Somerville Ave., said he is unable to work because of a disability and can’t afford to pay more than the $450 a month he is charged now for one room in an apartment he shares with four others.

“I have nowhere else to go,” Bouzahar said. “Without this place I will be in a homeless shelter.”

According to a press release sent by the SCC, the owner, Jim Herbert, and his attorney, Richard Di Girolamo, will meet with the residents and business owners this week to discuss the plans. Di Girolamo has previously said Herbert has subsidized those living on the property since he took over ownership of the building, and that he has a right to sell the property.

The Board of Directors of Union Square Main Streets has taken a position in favor of the development. In a letter published on its site, they note, “the long-term benefits of this redevelopment are substantial for Union Square and for Somerville and the proposal is deserving of community support.”

A Planning Board hearing on the project is scheduled for June 9 at 6 p.m. at the Visiting Nurses Association at 259 Lowell St.

See the slideshow below for more photos from the protest:

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