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MIT presents new Kendall Square zoning proposal

First formal hearing before the Cambridge Planning Board
Development along north and east sides of One Broadway with active ground floor uses will further energize the Broad Canal
Development along north and east sides of One Broadway with active ground floor uses will further energize the Broad Canal
Image: Elkus Manfredi Architects

MIT officials provided an overview of the Institute’s proposed Kendall Square Initiative at a public hearing of the Cambridge Planning Board on Jan. 15. The presentation, led by Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz and Managing Director of Real Estate Steve Marsh, summarized MIT’s zoning petition submitted to the city in December, and provided further context on the Institute’s response to the Faculty Task Force Report recommendations regarding east campus planning, a campus gateway, and a study of student housing needs. MIT had provided an earlier preview of the Kendall Square proposal to the Planning Board on Dec. 4, 2012.

MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative seeks to rezone 26 acres of Institute property in the east campus area bounded by Main Street, Ames Street, Wadsworth Street and Memorial Drive, and including the parcel at One Broadway. The proposal aims to transform four parking lots into a vibrant mixed-use district with housing, lab and office space, retail and open space.

At the Planning Board hearing, about 20 Cambridge residents and members of the MIT community asked questions and offered feedback on a variety of topics including dimensional features, the faculty task force report, housing needs in Cambridge and at MIT, abutter concerns, traffic and transportation, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

City staff and Planning Board members shared follow-up questions on these topics and others, and invited MIT to participate in a second public hearing on Feb. 19, for further discussion. Planning Board Chair Hugh Russell concluded the session by observing: “It’s a reasonable proposal that needs fine tuning.”

In a parallel fashion, the Cambridge City Council’s Ordinance Committee will begin its public review process of MIT’s zoning petition at a hearing on Jan. 24.

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