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Cambridge City Council members last night discussed potential plans for MIT to pay $175,000 to the city in order to reinvigorate nightlife in Kendall Square.
The expenses for development in Kendall Square were not originally included in the city’s annual budget.
City Manager Robert W. Healy proposed that half the necessary revenue come from an increase in MIT’s contribution to the city. The money would allow Cambridge to hire a consultant to examine how to revitalize Kendall Square and diversify its offerings.
Councillors mentioned that changes should introduce a mix of activities beyond the predominantly academic atmosphere, including increasing retail outlets, public gathering spaces, and entertainment venues.
“We are recognizing that MIT is a major player in this area that needs to have the vision and the concepts looked at and analyzed,” Healy said in light of plans for the development.
The majority of council members said they favored the plan and saw it as progressive.
“We are in a great place here, and this is important work,” Councillor Sam Seidel said.
Referring to an earlier report, Councillor Leland Cheung said that estimated demographic trends until 2025 in Cambridge should be taken into account.
“We will be a more diverse community,” Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves ’72 said, referring back to the demographic study. “We need to better understand what we’re planning for.”
The councillors said that, compared to the other squares in Cambridge, Kendall Square lacks appeal as a destination for social activities.
“Kendall Square has got to have its own edgy personality,” Reeves said.
To attract more activity and residents to the area, Cheung suggested that one easy solution would be for MIT to build more graduate housing.
Healy proposed that the upgrade take place within a year. However, Reeves said that the time frame was unrealistic for implementing all the changes discussed.
“A one time expenditure of $350,000 may be just the beginning,” Reeves said.
—David H. A. LeBoeuf contributed to the reporting of this article.
—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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