City Council Votes to Research Development in Kendall, Central Squares

The Cambridge City Council voted 8-0 last Monday to approve the selection of Goody Clancy & Associates, a Boston architecture and planning firm, to research potential business and residential development in Kendall and Central Squares.

“Each square has its own identity,” Assistant City Manager for Community Development Brian P. Murphy ’86-87 said. “Kendall and Central are going under transformation.”

The study approved by the City Council follows zoning changes proposed by the Broad Institute and Novartis for additional building space in Cambridge.

According to The Tech—MIT’s student newspaper—MIT was expected to propose zoning changes in January, but delayed because the City said it would conduct its own planning study.

MIT will pay $175,000 to the city to support the study.

“At one point, [Kendall] was an industrial area and now it’s an epicenter of life sciences.” Murphy said. “An amazing transformation has already taken place and this is just the next chapter.”

The proposed changes include increases in retail outlets, public gathering spaces, entertainment venues, lab and office spaces, and residential areas.

Goody Clancy’s planning study should take about a year, during which the consulting firm will reach out and gather public comment and reaction to potential changes, Murphy said.

“They have a strong reputation in urban planning,” City Councilor Sam Seidel said. “They’ve done work with Cambridge before ... We have high expectations about what they’re going to bring to this discussion.”

According to Sarah E. Gallop, Co-Director of Government and Community Relations at MIT, there have already been two information sessions with the City Council to discuss potential proposals.

“We’ve been working on this for a year ... We’ve been talking to neighborhood organizations,” Gallop said.

According to Gallop, the planning and construction process—currently in preliminary stages—will include eight buildings and could take up to five to seven years to complete.

“We’re not in a rush,” Gallop said. “We want to do it right because this project is for the broader community.”

While a potentially expensive project, Gallop said that “[MIT]’s so far away from thinking about costs ... We’re trying to make sure that people think this is a good idea.”

Gallop added that the end of the recession—combined with subsidized retail and careful planning—are all factors that could help MIT’s project run more smoothly than Harvard’s recent development in Allston.

—Staff writer Rediet T. Abebe can be reached at rtesfaye@college.harvard.edu.

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