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Longtime Davis Square Pub Will Survive Planned Redevelopment of Its Home

The Burren doesn’t expect to be affected by the building’s sale to Scape, a student housing developer, but other businesses might not be as lucky

The exterior of the Burren in Somerville’s Davis Square, painted black with bright red doors and window frames
The Burren isn’t going anywhere
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater

A British student housing developer called Scape recently bought the building that houses several businesses on Somerville’s Elm Street in Davis Square, including the Burren. The development firm paid nearly $10 million for the building and signed a 99-year ground lease with the City of Somerville.

This is terrifying news at first blush — the Burren is among Greater Boston’s most beloved Irish pubs, and no one wants to see it go. All seems well, though: It expects to survive.

“I’m glad to say the Burren is not affected,” owner Tommy McCarthy told Boston Magazine. “Long live the Burren.”

The Boston Business Journal confirmed McCarthy’s assertion, reporting that Scape CEO Andrew Flynn had reached an agreement with the Burren to keep the bar open.

Meanwhile, another longstanding Irish pub on the block, Sligo Pub, posted a message to its Facebook page stating that “it does appear that the Sligo Pub is going to be directly affected by these changes.” Open for over 30 years, Sligo thanked its patrons and the community for the support and expressed a hope to “make the best of [the] time” that it has left while its future remains “uncertain.”

Sligo also bid its fans to speak up by sending feedback to Somerville and show up to the Planning Board meeting in August.

It’s not clear at the moment what the proposed development will mean for the other businesses in the building, including Jae’s Cafe, When Pigs Fly bakery (which recently moved from another part of Davis Square), McKinnon’s Meat Market, Caramel French Patisserie, Kung Fu Tea, and Martsa on Elm.

Scape currently operates student housing complexes in England, Ireland, and Australia. The company builds student housing units and offers them to undergraduate and graduate students at below-market rate, operating independently of any college or university. Scape has also proposed a 15-story building on Boylston Street in Fenway, but that project has been met with a fair amount of pushback from the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. For now, head to Davis Square and drink tons of Guinness and eat bangers and mash and celebrate the fact that the Burren doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon — but pay attention to its neighbors, too, whose futures are less certain.

Update, October 28, 2019: In a meeting with the community, the developers noted that the Burren would be able to remain open during and after construction. Meanwhile, Sligo will be given the opportunity to return post-construction.

Student Housing Developer Buys Davis Square Building that Houses The Burren [BG]
Contrary to Sudden Panic, the Burren in Somerville is Not Closing [BM]
Scape Grows Local Presence with $10M Buy in Somerville’s Davis Square [BBJ]
Here’s What a British Dorm Builder Is Planning for Boston [BG]
British Firm’s Plans to Build Private Dorms in Boston Hit a Snag [BG]

Caramel French Patisserie (Somerville)

233 Elm St., Somerville, MA 02144 Visit Website

The Burren

247 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 776-6896 Visit Website

Sligo Pub

237 Elm Street, , MA 02144 (617) 625-4477

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