For Kendall Sq., A Very Small Step
The Cambridge City Council brought the rejuvenation of the Kendall Square urban renewal area one small step closer to realization Wednesday night by approving the Neighborhood Plan for development, but not with out opposition from liberal councillors and neighborhood groups.
The council split along its usual 5-4, independents vs. liberals axis in approving the plan, which was endorsed by MIT, the East Cambridge Planning Team, and the Kendall Square Businessmen's Association.
The plan calls for "a multipurpose mixed use of area of activity to provide the greatest opportunity for the community to both broaden its spectrum of employment opportunities and expand its tax base."
Over the half of the area, according to the plan, would be used for light industrial, technical, and research and development type firms, with a smaller portion intended for retail stores and a hotel or motel.
The aspect of the plan which drew stiff opposition from the liberal minority and from the Cambridge Tenants Organizing Committee was the inclusion of a sizable portion of privately financed residential construction, which is expected to be priced out of the range of most Cambridge residents.
Liberal Councillor Saundra Graham said that the plan would "turn the city into a high-middle income city with still more expensive high-rise housing."
The plan now faces a lengthy state and federal approval process, which requires the presentation of an environmental impact statement and could force significant alterations in the proposal from government officials.
Although the liberal councillors were immediately unsuccessful in their efforts to delete the housing provisions of the plan, they could still hold up the project by refusing to grant the needed zoning changes.
The adoption of the Neighborhood Plan concludes a study of the possible uses of the 24 acres of city-owned land, which were razed in 1965 to make way for an extensive NASA facility. That project was shelved in 1969.