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CAMBRIDGE, MA-The former Squirrel Brand Co. factory here on Boardman Street is to be converted into affordable housing units, signaling the demise of this city’s once-thriving candy trade. Just A Start, a non profit group, is developing the housing at a cost of $6 million.

In the 1920s, this city was home to 32 candy manufacturers. Now it’s down to two–the New England Confectionary Co. on Massachusetts Avenue and Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. on Main Street. And soon it will be only one, as Necco will be relocating to Revere in two years and its 500,000-sf building redeveloped as biotech space.

The Squirrel Brand name, products, and equipment were purchased by Texas-based Southern Style Nuts and the factory operation was relocated to Texas. Just A Start purchased the factory and two other properties from the Squirrel Brand Co. two years ago and now plans to develop 18 two-bedroom units in the building. A neighborhood coalition put $300,000 towards the purchase and the city is contributing $2 million towards the redevelopment. The city is also taking title of an 11,650-sf undeveloped lot in front of the old factory on the corner of Boardman Street and Broadway City.

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