Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 21, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episodes 213-214: March 21, 2017

Cambridge InsideOut Episode 213 (Part 1)

This episode was broadcast March 21, 2017 at 5:30pm. Topics included the State Championship victory of the CRLS Boys Basketball team, some upcoming civic events, design review of MIT-Kendall projects, and a curious zoning petition that appeared at the Mon, Mar 20 City Council meeting regarding short-term rentals. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]


Cambridge InsideOut Episode 214 (Part 2)

This episode was broadcast March 21, 2017 at 6:00pm. Topics included zoning and short-term rentals, changes to the Smoking Ordinance, and the proposed changes to the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that was passed to a 2nd Reading at the Mon, Mar 20 City Council meeting. The hosts are Judy Nathans and Robert Winters. [On YouTube]

[Materials used in this episode]

June 10, 2016

Opening of the First Section of the Grand Junction Path – June 9, 2016

It’s only between Main Street and Broadway so far, but it’s a start!

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Councillor and State Representative Tim Toomey

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

Sarah Gallup, MIT Government and Community Relations

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

John Sanzone, Friends of the Grand Junction Path

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

City Councillors Marc McGovern, Jan Devereux, and Tim Toomey and City Manager Rich Rossi

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

Cutting the Ribbon: Margaret Drury (CRA), Conrad Crawford (CRA), Jan Devereux, Rich Rossi, Tim Toomey, Marc McGovern, Kathy Born (CRA), Tom Evans (CRA Exec. Dir.), Sarah Gallup, Barry Zevin (CRA), Jason Zogg (CRA Program Manager)

You can't cut the ribbon without these

You can’t cut the ribbon without these

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

Michael Owu (MITIMCO) and Anya Bear (MIT Government and Community Relations)

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Grand Junction Path after the Grand Opening

The Trains Keep Rollin'

The Trains Keep Rollin’

December 24, 2015

White Squirrel at the Volpe Center in Kendall Square enjoying a Spring day on Christmas Eve

Filed under: Cambridge,Kendall Square — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 2:28 pm

White Squirrel at Volpe Center
White Squirrel at the Volpe Center in Kendall Square enjoying a Spring day on Christmas Eve

December 6, 2015

Runnin’ Down the Clock – December 7, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:10 pm

Runnin’ Down the Clock – December 7, 2015 Cambridge City Council agenda

December 7Here are a few nuggets for this Day of Infamy. I’ll leave the comments to others this time.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt with suggested modifications the PUD-KS (Volpe Site) Rezoning Petition.

Manager’s Agenda #8. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a Planning Board recommendation to adopt the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority/MXD Rezoning Petition in the revised version dated Nov 4, 2015, with suggested clarifications.

Committee Report #4. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 19, 2015 to continue discussion on the petition filed by the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan area (KSURP) and to amend the current zoning for the MXD District in Kendall Square to reflect the proposed changes to the plan.

Committee Report #6. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 3, 2015 to continue discussion on the petition filed by the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) to amend the Zoning Ordinance in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan area (KSURP) and to amend the current zoning for the MXD District in Kendall Square to reflect the proposed changes to the plan.

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-94, regarding a report on a list of parking stickers issued to each development in the past ten years.

Manager’s Agenda #10. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to proposed amendments to the Community Benefits Ordinance.

Committee Report #7. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Dec 1, 2015 to discuss the proposed Community Benefits Ordinance.

Manager’s Agenda #11. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appointment of Nicole Murati Ferrer, Esq. as Chair of the License Commission, effective Jan 11, 2016.

Order #4. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Community Development Department and other relevant City staffers to determine the feasibility of establishing City-financed "gap vouchers," similar to those being considered by the City of Waltham, and to consider whether additional measures such as establishing standalone City-issued housing vouchers could be established.   Councillor Simmons, Councillor McGovern and Councillor Carlone

Order #6. That the City Manager is requested to consult with the appropriate City personnel and report back to the City Council on what specific steps will be implemented in the coming year to ensure that the City’s Boards and Commissions adequately reflect the rich diversity of the City, and to ensure that a greater level of citizen outreach and engagement by these entities is pursued.   Councillor Simmons

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with the Finance Department to establish a parallel fund to the fund proposed in the Community Benefits Ordinance and to confer with the Finance Director to ensure that the parallel fund will be able to accept money from private entities and that it will spend the collected money in a similar manner to the Community Benefits Fund   Councillor Cheung

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 19, 2015 to discuss a petition filed by Patrick W. Barrett III, et al. to amend the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance by amending Article 2.000 ("Definitions") and Article 4.000, Section 4.22 ("Accessory Apartment").

Communications & Reports from City Officers #1. A communication was received from Tanya L. Ford, Executive Director, Cambridge Election Commission, transmitting the Final Official Results from the Municipal Election held on Tues, Nov 3, 2015 for City Council.

Communications & Reports from City Officers #2. A communication was received from Tanya L. Ford, Executive Director, Cambridge Election Commission, transmitting the Final Official Results from the Municipal Election held on Tues, Nov 3, 2015 for School Committee.

April 21, 2015

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (April 21, 2015)

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 5:34 pm

Catching Up on the Cambridge News (April 21, 2015)

City of Cambridge 2015 Outstanding City Employee Award Winners Announced

April 17, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Outstanding City Employee Award.

City of CambridgeJanice Alger, Assistant Director of Administration, Human Services Department

Kara Armstrong, Administrative Assistant, License Commission

Sidney Botelho, Communications Supervisor, Emergency Communications Department

Karen Brown, Deputy Director, Library

Maryellen Carvello, Office Manager, Executive Office

Tyrell Dortch, Youth Center Program Director, Human Services Department

Juan Galindo, Working Foreman/Laborer, Department of Public Works

Brian Gover, Deputy Chief, Fire Department

Priscilla Lopes, Career Counselor, Human Services Department

Paul Ryder, Division Head/Recreation Director, Human Services Department

Anthony Tuccinardi, Housing Inspector, Inspectional Services Department

The City Manager will also be presenting a special award in memory and honor of Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of others.

Recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015, at 9:30am, in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall, for their superior performance, positive attitude, hard work and dedication to public service. All are welcome to attend.


Cambridge Joins 73 Cities & Counties to Take Legal Action in Support of Immigration Reforms

Statue of LibertyApril 7, 2015 – As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, Mayor David P. Maher and City Manager Richard C. Rossi announced that Cambridge has joined 73 cities and counties to file a new friend-of-the-court brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Texas vs. United States lawsuit, urging immediate implementation of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The brief demonstrates robust support from the country’s largest cities – as well as its suburbs and rural areas – for the President’s reforms, which will provide temporary relief from deportation to immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. who pass a background check and meet other criteria.

The cities and counties – representing 43 million people across the country – argue that the district court judge who temporarily blocked implementation of the programs failed to consider the significant harms to America’s local governments caused by this delay. The brief more than doubles the number of local governments that had previously voiced opposition to the lawsuit brought by states seeking to block President Obama’s immigration reform efforts.

“Cambridge is home to immigrants from across the world and these residents help make our city the vibrant and diverse community that we are so proud of,” said Mayor Maher. “I am pleased to join other Mayors and city leaders to urge swift action on immigration reform which will strengthen families, grow our economy and reward the hard work and determination of those seeking the American dream both in Cambridge and across the country.”

As part of Cities United for Immigration Action, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti led the effort to organize more than 70 cities and counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in arguing that the national public interest is served clearly and overwhelmingly by implementing immigration relief by executive action without delay. The brief also argues that the District Court judge’s decision to block executive action with a preliminary injunction is bad for the economy, hurts families, threatens law enforcement priorities, and will stall desperately needed changes to the federal government’s immigration policies.


Save the Date for Cambridge Arts Open Studios, May 9 & 10

Open Studios7th Annual Cambridge Arts Open Studios
Saturday, May 9th & Sunday, May 10th
12 noon – 6:00pm

Explore the work of over 100 visual and performing artists over one vibrant weekend! Celebrate the special women in your life with a memorable mother’s day weekend celebration of the visual and performing arts in Cambridge. Discover exceptional works of art and find unique presents to wrap up for mom.

New this year, performing artists are paired with visual artists for engaging and intimate performances in studios and common venues throughout the city.

Visit cambridgeartscouncil.org/openstudios to plan your visit!


Cambridge Participatory Budgeting Winning Projects Announced

April 7, 2015 – During a Vote Results Party April 7 at the Citywide Senior Center, City officials, along with Budget and Finance staff, announced the winning projects of the Cambridge’s first ever Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Launched in the fall, PB enabled residents to directly decide how to spend $500,000 of the FY16 Capital Budget. Over 380 ideas for projects to improve Cambridge were submitted. From January to March, 40 volunteer Budget Delegates prioritized and developed those ideas into 20 concrete project proposals to be placed on a ballot for the community to vote on.

Over 2,700 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted online and at events around town to decide which projects the City should fund.

The following six projects won PB funding for FY16:

  • 100 new trees and tree wells in low-canopy neighborhoods ($119,400)
  • 20 new laptops for the Community Learning Center ($27,000)
  • Bilingual books for children learning English ($7,000)
  • Public toilet in Central Square ($320,000)
  • 8 bike repair stations ($12,000)
  • Free public Wi-Fi in 6 outdoor locations ($42,000)

The above projects totaling $527,400 will be implemented as part of the City of Cambridge FY16 Capital Budget.

Many thanks to the PB Cambridge Steering Committee, the Budget Delegates, the Participatory Budgeting Project, City staff, the Stanford Crowdsourced Democracy Team, and all of the volunteers and participants who helped make this pilot initiative a great success!

Want to get involved? We’re launching the second round of Participatory Budgeting this summer. Find out more at www.cambridgema.gov/yourbudget.

Participatory Budgeting


City of Cambridge Soliciting Memberships for Transit Advisory Committee

MBTA mapApril 13, 2015 – City Manager Richard C. Rossi is seeking members for the Transit Advisory Committee, which works to advance an agenda for a robust public transportation system for those who live and work in Cambridge. The committee is composed of a cross section of stakeholders that advise on city positions and policies regarding long term sustainable funding for transit by the Commonwealth, transit expansion, service planning, and service improvements. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month, from 5:30-7:30pm, at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Mass. Ave.

Applications are sought by dedicated individuals who live or work in Cambridge. Members are expected to attend monthly meetings as well as review materials and potentially engage in projects outside of regular meetings. To apply, please prepare a cover letter indicating your interest and any relevant knowledge and experience you may have in this area, and specific issues you would like to contribute time to working on. Please be sure to include your mailing address, phone number, and email. The application deadline is Friday, May 1. Please forward letters of interest via mail or email to:

Richard C. Rossi, City Manager
c/o Diane Bongiorno
Cambridge Community Development Department
344 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139
Email: dbongiorno@cambridgema.gov

Appointments are made by the City Manager and are for two years of service. For more information, call Tegin Bennett at 617-349-4615 or email tbennett@cambridgema.gov. Visit the committee’s webpage at: cambridgema.gov/CDD/Transportation/forthepublic/transitadvisorycommittee


Main Street Construction Update: Road and Sidewalk Work Starts April 21

On Tuesday, April 21, the city’s contractor, Newport Construction, will begin roadway and sidewalk reconstruction on Main St between Ames St and Wadsworth. The road work is expected to take about 1 month to complete, while the sidewalk work will be ongoing throughout the spring and summer. During the road work phase, Main St will function as a one way. While crews reconstruct the eastbound lanes, only westbound traffic on Main St will be permitted. When crews switch to the westbound side, only eastbound traffic will be permitted. MBTA, trolley and EZ Ride stops may be adjusted during the road work. Please check signs for temporary stop locations.

Seek Alternate RoutesPROJECT SCHEDULE

  • Starting Tuesday, April 21, crews will mobilize on Main St to begin roadway reconstruction. Work will begin on the eastbound side first (2 weeks), and then switch to the westbound side (2 weeks).
  • Additionally, starting on April 21, crews will begin sidewalk reconstruction on the north (Marriott) side of Main St (2 months), followed by the south side (2 months). We will continue to provide updates as the construction progresses.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CONSTRUCTION

  • During the road work phase, Main St will function as a one way. While crews reconstruct the eastbound lanes, only westbound traffic on Main St will be permitted. When crews switch to the westbound side, only eastbound traffic will be permitted.
  • MBTA Bus, shuttle and trolley stops on Main St may be adjusted during roadway reconstruction. Please check signs for temporary stops.
  • “No Parking” signs will be posted; please be sure to check dates/times.
  • Emergency vehicles will have access at all times.

Additional information and project plans are available online at: www.cambridgema.gov/theworks/cityprojects.aspx, under Main Street Reconstruction Project.


Connect Kendall Square Competition Winner Selected

Connect KendallApril 9 – Connect Kendall Square Open Space Competition The City of Cambridge is pleased to announce the selection of Somerville based Richard Burck Associates as the winner of the Connect Kendall Square Open Space Planning Competition. Richard Burck Associates was chosen by a six member jury after the culmination of a three stage process spanning eight months.

Four teams of finalists were charged with developing an open space plan framework guided by a vision and planning and design goals identified through a robust public process spearheaded by the City and the Eastern Cambridge and Kendall Square Open Space (ECKOS) Study Committee. The goals included promoting complementary uniqueness, establishing activations strategies, building an identity, and elevating the user experience. The teams presented their framework plans to the competition jury and the general public on March 25-26, 2015.

The competition, sponsored by the City’s Community Development Department, was a unique opportunity to develop a plan to implement the vision for the entire open space network in Kendall Square and eastern Cambridge and vicinity. Launched July 2014, Connect Kendall Square was a departure from more traditional planning processes, and even unique among competition formats. The competition generated creative ideas and thinking on strategies to use open space and the public realm to better connect Kendall Square to surrounding neighborhoods, and also create a sense of place and identity. The winning framework plan will serve as a means of informing park designs, the character and role of both public and private open spaces in the area, and even decisions regarding infrastructure, city policy and future development.

Connect Kendall Square - Richard Burck Associates

The framework plan presented by Richard Burck Associates is structured on better connecting the Charles River to Kendall Square, and then better connecting Kendall Square to its surrounding parks, neighborhoods and MIT. This layered effort encompasses organizing new urban form to feature open space connectedness, connecting a series of sustainable storm water strategies, and developing strong pedestrian connections throughout the project area. This "dendritic" pattern overlaid on Kendall Square describes circulation moving in an increasing concentrated way to the Charles River. It’s a pattern with historic roots rich with interpretive possibilities in connecting Kendall Square today.

The competition jury consisted of Ethan Carr, PhD, FASLA, professor of landscape architecture at University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Candace Damon, Vice Chairman of HR&A Advisors, Inc.; Robin Moore, professor of landscape architecture and Director, Natural Learning Initiative, NC State University; Inga Saffron, architecture critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer; Michael Singer, artist and designer; and alternate juror J. Roger Boothe, former Director of Urban Design for the City of Cambridge. More information about the Jury’s selection and evaluation is available in the Jury Report.

For more information, visit the project page or competition website, or contact Taha Jennings at tjennings@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4302.


Alewife Brook Combined Sewer Overflow Control Progress Update

April 9 – This notice is required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as an annual update on the progress of Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) control measures that are underway to improve the water quality of Alewife Brook.

Cambridge-MWRA-Somerville

JOINT PUBLIC NOTICE – APRIL 2015
Alewife Brook Combined Sewer Overflow Control Progress Update

Residents with property that lies in the extended 100-year floodplain of Alewife Brook as established and currently in effect by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will receive a direct notice in the mail in mid-April. For more information, please refer to the notice or contact Catherine Daly Woodbury at Public Works at 617-349-4818 or cwoodbury@cambridgema.gov.


Rain Barrel Program

April 8 – April Showers Bring Limited Time Offer on Rain Barrels
Rain BarrelCapture the rainwater from your roof and store it in a rain barrel for later use in your garden. Purchase a 60-gallon rainwater collection system for $79.00. This offer is valid until May 14th. To provide the lowest cost, the company is arranging for a general delivery of the rain barrels on Thursday, May 21st , from 4-7pm, at Cambridge DPW yard, 147 Hampshire Street.

If rainwater is not captured and allowed to soak back into the ground, rivers and streams do not have the chance to sustain or "recharge" themselves. By capturing rainwater, you are reducing stormwater runoff, conserving water and recharging the groundwater. A local non-profit agency, Green Cambridge (www.greencambridge.org), is offering to install rain barrels for Cambridge residents free of charge. If you prefer to install them yourself, the rain barrel arrives with simple instructions for fast and easy installation.

For more information, to order online and to check out the new design and variety of color options log onto The Great American Rain Barrel Company website: www.greatamericanrainbarrel.com, click on “Shop Local Programs” and select “Cambridge”. You can also order by phone (800-251-2352) toll free when specifying the City of Cambridge promotion.

February 13, 2014

MBTA Role in Cambridge Center Project – Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989

MBTA Role in Jump-starting Development of the Cambridge Center Project
Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project, 1979-1989

By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

The purpose of this narrative is to provide additional information about the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority’s (CRA) Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project and to describe the role of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) in helping to jump-start development of the CRA’s Cambridge Center Project in 1979-1989, a major factor in helping to attract high-tech companies to locate in the East Cambridge industrial area. UMTA provided the MBTA with critical financial assistance made available under President Carter’s Urban Initiatives Program.

Kendall Urban Initiatives Project 1980
KENDALL SQUARE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT
Urban Initiatives Project – 1980

To understand the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, it must be divided into two phases:

Phase 1. 1963-1979. The objective was to transform a 43-acre blighted urban industrial area into vacant land for construction of improvements.
Background. The Kendall Square Urban Redevelopment Project planning activities during Phase 1 included creating, initiating and financing the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project; preparing an urban renewal plan to accommodate development by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and, after NASA withdrew from the Project, preparing an entirely new plan for development by private developers; a painful, prolonged and laborious process because Cambridge was unprepared to carry out the difficult and complicated tasks involved in overhauling the original plan with an entirely new plan.

In 1965, when the City of Cambridge approved the CRA’s original Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, it anticipated that the Project would attract NASA-related private development to replace a blighted industrial area of old, deteriorated and underutilized buildings with a modern, attractive industrial area which would generate tax revenues and jobs. In 1970, when NASA withdrew from the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project and transferred its interests in the Kendall Square Project to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the feeling in Cambridge was that the project had been delivered a tremendous setback because it lost its major developer; a severe blow to the city’s efforts to expand its economic base.

The 1970-77 period involved two major activities:
(1) The execution of land preparation activities in order to transform a 43-acre industrial slum into vacant land for new construction. The activities required the acquisition of 70 parcels of land, relocation of the Broad Canal to an underground water system, relocation of nearly 100 businesses, demolition of 50 buildings, construction of infrastructure, and formation of new traffic patterns of circulation. Land preparation activities are the "nitty-gritty, heavy-lifting" period of the redevelopment process because most are messy, noisy, a public nuisance and a favorite subject of complaint.

(2) The resolution of planning issues in order to amend the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan to designate new reuses for the land. Activities included negotiations between the CRA, DOT, and the U.S. General Services Administration to retrieve the rights to develop 10 acres of vacant land left behind by NASA; and rejection by the Cambridge City Council of four redevelopment plans prepared by a task force comprised of representatives from a cross section of Cambridge organizations working with the CRA.

In 1976, the CRA engaged the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) advisory panel services to review the Kendall Square Project and propose ways to help break the multi-year planning deadlock. Among the "Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations" of the ULI panel:

• Only a few properties in the country have a broader array of locational advantages as the Kendall Square area and the opportunities associated with the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Cambridge Center is a unique opportunity area, one that should be reserved to maximize its locational advantages.

The MBTA’s Kendall Station subway is one of the more spectacular assets affecting the redevelopment potential of the CRA’s Cambridge Center project (emphasis added).

• Attracting developers will not be easy. Citizen concerns, political pressure, economic uncertainty, the absence of a united and strong development process, high taxes, environmental constraints, contentious political climate, and congested surface transportation have combined to create a credibility problem with the real estate development community relative to the City of Cambridge. With few exceptions, the lack of credibility has been a severe restraint to real estate development in Cambridge.

These development problems are such that all but the most determined developer, the one who perceives a very close relationship between locational advantages and development opportunities, will be deterred from coming into the community (emphasis added).

Engaging the ULI greatly helped to break the planning deadlock because the panel’s expertise gained the confidence of the Cambridge City Council and the CRA. The panel advised the CRA to make extraordinary efforts to impress potential developers by efficiently completing site preparations and all major pre-physical development activities. The CRA responded by removing legal and technical impediments to development by completing an Environmental Impact Statement; securing plan and zoning amendments; carrying out a $7-million public improvements program; and implementing traffic circulation plans, such as widening Binney Street to provide direct major access to Memorial Drive.

In 1977, Cambridge City Council approved a mixed-use development plan for the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project. For marketing purposes the name Cambridge Center was adopted to refer to the 24 acres in the Kendall Square Project Area separate from the land occupied by DOT. In 1978, the CRA invited proposals to develop Cambridge Center, and in 1979, selected Boston Properties as the initial developer.

Phase 2. 1980-Present. The objective was to sell the vacant land created during Phase 1 for private development.
The CRA and Boston Properties executed a Development Agreement which provided that the CRA would sell land to Boston Properties in stages after approval of development plans; and Boston Properties was required to start construction of an office building within seven months of signing the agreement.

Because of the disorderly events of the 1970’s, expectations regarding development of the CRA’s Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project were gloomy. Mortimer Zuckerman, one of the two Boston Properties principals, was aware of the difficulties: "It was a very bleak time when the Kennedy Space Center moved to Texas…There was just a lot of land there" (Woolhouse, "Making a High Tech Mecca", Boston Globe, June 26, 2011)".

The CRA realized that to overcome Cambridge’s credibility problem with the real estate community, it had to establish a reputation for being able to work efficiently and effectively with Boston Properties in stimulating private development of the Cambridge Center Project. The MBTA was about to provide the CRA with the opportunity to establish that reputation.

The MBTA operated three facilities in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area: the Kendall subway station (Kendall Station), bus layover facilities, and a traction power substation. The Kendall Station was old (built in 1912), dilapidated, obsolete, with dimly lighted platforms. The traction power substation was considered to be obsolete and a blighting influence, and its 50′ high fire-damaged brick facade dominated the heavily travelled Main Street eastern entrance to the Kendall Square area.

The MBTA recognized that because of the improvements designated for the CRA’s Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, the MBTA facilities would have to be modernized. During the mid-1970’s, the MBTA and the CRA staffs met to coordinate plans regarding future reconstruction efforts. It was decided that reconstruction would be integrated with the CRA’s redevelopment activities, and the CRA’s Concept Design Plan for the Kendall Square Project would be used as the standard for urban design amenities.

By coincidence, Jimmy Carter was the U.S President from 1977 to 1981, and his Urban Policy plans included shifting the allocation of federal resources to favor urban areas. Priority was to be given to projects that leveraged the expenditure of federal funds and strong incentives would be awarded to projects engaged in efforts to attract private investments to urban areas. The effort would be called the President’s Urban Initiatives Program.

Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project
The MBTA determined that its Kendall Station met the qualifications to receive designation as a Urban Initiatives Project because it was already integrating its plans for modernizing the Kendall Station with the CRA’s plans for the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, and that the CRA had executed a Development Agreement with Boston Properties to attract private development and investments to the Cambridge Center Project. In its application to UMTA for project approval, the MBTA made the following points:

"The project’s financial assistance will be used to provide Kendall Station improvements in support of a major urban redevelopment effort and to stimulate private investments for urban improvements… The CRA has designated Boston Properties as developer for Cambridge Center and Boston Properties is expected to generate $150 million of private investment over the next 10 years and produce in excess of one-million square feet of office, hotel, retail, and open space. More immediately, Boston Properties is prepared to begin construction in October, 1979, of the first office building (13 stories) involving 250,000 square feet of space and costing approximately $20 million. This initial investment could be followed the next year with a second building of the same magnitude".

UMTA designated the Kendall Station project as an Urban Initiatives Project, agreeing that "the proposal has excellent characteristics for effectively achieving the President’s intentions in calling for an UMTA Urban Initiatives Program". The Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project involved the CRA, the MBTA, and Boston Properties. It included Parcel 4 of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, a triangular 5-acre site bordered by Main Street, Broadway and Sixth Street around the Kendall Station.

Initially, because of budgetary constraints, the MBTA programmed construction of the Kendall Station improvements for the late-1980’s and called for only a modest renovation of the existing facilities and entrances; and the program for the traction power substation provided only for replacement of electrical equipment, with no provision for replacing and relocating the building. This schedule was of grave concern to the CRA because the Kendall Station, in its present antiquated condition, would have an adverse effect on the initial marketing efforts by Boston Properties to attract private development to the area.

At that time, Boston Properties marketing efforts highlighted the locational advantages of the Kendall Station: (1) The MIT campus was in the immediate neighborhood. (2) Two subway stops easterly from the Kendall Station was downtown Boston, and two subway stops westerly was Harvard University. (3) The MBTA public transit system provided access to virtually the entire Boston Metropolitan Area. (4) The Kendall Station was within easy walking distance of any location within the Cambridge Center Project area. The CRA believed that an efficient and timely transformation of the Kendall Station from old, dilapidated and obsolete to a modern, attractive, and well-designed subway station, and the simultaneous construction of buildings by Boston Properties and public improvements by the CRA could have a dramatic positive effect on Boston Properties’ marketing efforts. Also it could stimulate private development of the vacant land in the rest of Cambridge Center; and might influence the real estate community’s perception of Cambridge’s credibility.

The CRA requested (1) the MBTA reschedule construction of the Kendall Station to start during the early 1980’s, and the proposed station improvements be upgraded to match the CRA’s design standards; and (2) the traction power substation be replaced and relocated so that it could be subsumed within the private development occurring on-site. The MBTA was supportive, but because the MBTA system had operated at a loss during the past five years, it had determined that "no part of the costs associated with the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project can be financed from MBTA revenue".

Designation of the Kendall Station modernization plans as an UMTA Urban Initiatives Project also qualified the MBTA for the maximum amount of Federal assistance, making it eligible to receive funding from UMTA. Accordingly, UMTA provided the critical financing the MBTA needed to reschedule construction of the Kendall Station to begin sooner, upgrade design standards, and relocate the new traction power substation.

Then a rare event took place in the City of Cambridge. Two public agencies – the CRA and the MBTA – and a private developer – Boston Properties – initiated meetings to discuss the funding, design and construction details of the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project. They entered into a variety of formal and informal arrangements to cooperate in the planning and development around the Kendall Station. Their arrangements extended from land use planning and urban design to land acquisition and transfer policies, construction activities, and the maintenance of public and private improvements. For example:

• The Kendall Station modernization would include lengthening the subway platforms from four cars to six cars, relocating the stations entrances, and upgrading the stations interiors.

• The MBTA’s new traction power substation would be integrated with the improvements planned by the CRA and Boston Properties.

• The CRA’s design standards for the renewal area would be used to plan project improvements related to the Kendall Station reconstruction.

• The CRA was awarded a $5.1-million grant to provide transit-related improvements and urban design amenities, including street and sidewalk improvements, a bus contraflow lane, a Transit Plaza, an urban park at the gateway to the project, and pedestrian connections to nearby neighborhoods.

Urban Initiatives Project Area - 1980

Construction Coordination
A particularly difficult task was the coordination of simultaneous construction activities by the three entities in performing over- lapping construction work within tight, limited areas where the lines of responsibilities were difficult to draw. The parties devised a cost-sharing formula to determine how much of the total cost would be the responsibility of each party if the entire job was performed by a single contractor. A contractor would then be engaged and each party would pay its agreed-upon share of the total contractor cost. For example:

• The MBTA dug a huge excavation across Main Street and abutting vacant land. The excavation was for the expansion and renovation of the Kendall Station (to be constructed by the MBTA); and for an area to provide services to the buildings on Parcel 4 (to be built by Boston Properties). The building service area was to be located under a Transit Plaza (to be built by the CRA) so that it would be out-of-sight.

• The new northerly entrance to the subway (to be built by the MBTA) would abut the Transit Plaza (to be built by the CRA) and include an extended canopy from the wall of an office building (to be built by Boston Properties). The canopy would provide the MBTA patrons with a covered walkway and direct access to a food court (to be built by Boston Properties).

• The three parties collaborated on the location and design of the new traction power substation (to be built by the MBTA) so that a 12-story office building (to be built by Boston Properties) could be constructed on air rights over it.

• As construction was completed by the MBTA and Boston Properties, the CRA was to construct public improvements in the abutting public ways.

The redevelopment of Parcel 4 was a team effort by the CRA, the MBTA, and Boston Properties. The renovations by the MBTA in modernizing the Kendall Station, and by the CRA in constructing public improvements and urban design amenities, created an environment to reinforce Boston Properties’ marketing efforts to attract highly-qualified companies to locate in the Cambridge Center Project.

Kendall Station - Urban Initiatives Project - 1985
KENDALL STATION
Urban Initiatives Project – 1985

Urban Initiatives Project Area - 1985
Urban Initiatives Project Area – 1985
Construction Coordination

Urban Initiatives Project Area - 1989
Urban Initiatives Project Area – 1989

Transit Plaza contributions
The Transit Plaza, named Nowiszewski Plaza, abutted the Kendall Station’s exit/access, and was surrounded by active uses. It included a multicolored paving pattern, and a 75-foot sculptured tower, which also served as an emergency exit for the hotel, ventilation for the building service area under the Plaza, and amphitheater seating. Boston Properties funded the tower and the gold-leaf octahedron adorning its top, and was obliged to operate, maintain, and repair the Transit Plaza.

(NOTE: The Transit Plaza was subsequently modified.)

Urban Initiatives Project - 1989
Urban Initiatives Project – 1989

Pedestrian Circulation
Efforts were made to facilitate pedestrian circulation and activities: 5 Cambridge Center contained Legal Seafood restaurant; 3 Cambridge Center had a food court and MIT Coop store; and 2 Cambridge Center, a hotel abutting the Transit Plaza, had a restaurant, bar, and a public easement through the hotel lobby connecting to a pedestrian way to the surrounding area. The Transit Plaza provided exit/access for the subway, outdoor use of tables and chairs, amphitheater seating, and occasional entertainment programs, fairs and informal performances by free-lancers. Directly east of 1 Cambridge Center was an urban park, "Galaxy at Murphy Park". Also, Boston Properties constructed an elevator-accessible 1-acre public park on the roof of a parking garage. (Note: The garage roof was subsequently modified.)

"Galaxy at Murphy Park"
The eastern gateway to the Kendall Square area at the intersection of Main Street and Broadway, was a triangular site used to construct "Galaxy at Murphy Park". Galaxy was conceived through the successful collaborative efforts of the CRA and the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

The CRA considered Galaxy to be one of the most attractive features of Cambridge Center.

The centerpiece of Galaxy was an environmental structure which featured a 5-foot-in-diameter "earthsphere" placed in a fountain. Water spray – during the warm months – , or steam – during the cold months – enveloped the sphere to create the appearance of "floating" on clouds. Surrounding the fountain were 12" moon-globes which were perforated in individual patterns. At nighttime, the globes were illuminated from within and its shadows cast light and patterns on the pavement around the globes; and when steam from the earthsphere passed over the globes, rays of light were visible coming through the perforations. Surrounding the fountain were benches for sitting; two rows of trees and shrubs; and grassy open spaces.

Boston Properties was responsible for operating, maintaining and repairing "Galaxy".

Urban Initiatives Project 1989
Urban Initiatives Project 1989

Urban Initiatives Project 1989

National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)
In 1990, NAHRO’s Annual Agency Awards of Excellence in Housing and Community Development chose the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project for its Administrative Innovation Award. "The Kendall Square Project showed excellent coordination of public and private funding, as well as excellent planning and team work by three major agencies over the 10-year development period. A joint development carried out among two public agencies, the CRA and the MBTA, and a private developer, Boston Properties".

Summary
Although the project was complex, the objectives of the Kendall Station Urban Initiatives Project were achieved:

• The MBTA modernized and expanded the Kendall Station by relocating station entrances, lengthening the station platforms, and renovating the station’s interiors; and constructed a new traction power substation to replace the old, outmoded one.

• Boston Properties marketing operations attracted qualified competent companies to locate within the Urban Initiatives Project area, resulting in the construction of 1.1-million square feet of mixed-used development, including two 12- to 13- story retail, office buildings; a 13-story office building constructed on air rights over the MBTA traction power substation; a 25-story hotel; a 4-story retail, office building; and a 863-car garage with a one-acre open space roof–top garden.

• The CRA constructed public improvements throughout the area: streets and sidewalks, landscaping, Transit Plaza, Galaxy park, and pedestrian walkways.

• UMTA provided the critical financing the MBTA needed to reschedule and upgrade its Kendall Station facilities. UMTA considered the Kendall Station Project to be a successful Urban Initiatives Project because it attracted private investments to the Cambridge urban area, and "a model for other cities on the positive impact that transit accessibility can have on community development".

• The joint public-private cooperative effort helped to create an environment that supported Boston Properties’ marketing operations and provided a jump-start to generate momentum to develop Parcel 4.

In 1979, when the MBTA submitted its application for Kendall Station designation as an Urban Initiatives Project, the CRA’s expectations were that the Cambridge Center Project would be completed in about ten years and produce 1.7-million square feet of mixed-use development and generate $200-million of private investments. Thirty years later, the Cambridge Center Project is in its last phase, and upon completion is projected to have produced 3-million square feet of mixed-uses, and generated about $1-billion of private investments, $15-million of property tax revenues and about 6,000 jobs.

The joint public-private team enterprise in the successful redevelopment of Parcel 4 was a factor in the real estate development community’s apparent re-evaluation of its skepticism about the development climate in the City of Cambridge. Starting in the 1980’s, private investments were made to develop the rest of the Cambridge Center Project, and subsequently a flood of development occurred in the East Cambridge industrial area.

END

P.S.: Robert F. Rowland was the CRA Executive Director in the 1970’s when planning to integrate the CRA’s and MBTA’s urban redevelopment operations in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project were initiated, and which resulted in the designation of the Kendall Station as an Urban Initiatives Project.


Thad J. Tercyak Professional Resume
1610 N Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center, FL 33573; Phone (813) 633-5746 (Nov-May)
108 Alden Village Ct., Cary, NC 27519; Phone (919) 460-4526 (June-Oct)
E-Mail: tedtercyak AT cs DOT com

Professional Employment
Cambridge Redevelopment Authority: Associate Director, 1968-1990.
Boston Redevelopment Authority: Project Director, Washington Park and South End urban renewal projects; 1961-1968.
Cuyahoga County Planning Authority (Cleveland, Ohio): Economist, 1957-1960.
Connecticut Development Commission (Adams, Howard & Greeley, City Planning Consultants): Economist, 1956-1957.

Academic
University of Pittsburgh: Master’s Degree, Public Administration, 1961.
University of Connecticut: Master’s Degree, Economics, 1956.
Boston University Metropolitan College: Part-time Instructor, Urban Renewal, 1975-6.

Publications

Cambridge Civic Journal:
"Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes"; June, 2013.
"Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project, Initial Years, 1963 to 1982"; July, 2012.

Urban Land Institute:
"Joint Development at Kendall Square"; April, 1991.
"Marketing Public Land"; February, 1986.
"Cambridge Center Project Design"; April, 1985.
"Panel Revisits: Cambridge Center: Downtown Redevelopment"; February, 1985.

Journal of Housing:
"Project Design: A Cooperative Effort"; September/October, 1984.
"Kendall Square: An Urban Renewal Success"; September/October, 1982.

Urban Land Institute (ULI) , Advisory Services Panelist:
An Evaluation of the Development Potential and Revitalization Strategy for the Silver Triangle Site, Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, 1992.
An Evaluation of Kennedy and LaGuardia Airport Access for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City of New York, 1991

Professional Resume, summary
Mr. Tercyak’s professional background includes Master’s degrees in Economics and Public Administration; 22 years as Associate Director of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority; 7 years as project director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Washington Park and South End urban renewal projects; 5 years as an economist with city and county planning agencies; and Urban Land Institute advisory services panelist evaluating potential development projects for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and for downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. Several articles published in the Cambridge Civic Journal, Urban Land Institute Magazine and Journal of Housing. Part-time instructor, Community Development, Boston University Metropolitan College.

December 31, 2013

K2C2 Final Reports Released

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,Kendall Square,planning — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 10:58 am

K2C2 Final Reports Released

K2C2 areaThe final reports for Kendall Square and Central Square are now available for download. Zoning discussions based on the recommendations of the K2 and C2 Advisory Committees, which are encapsulated in these reports, will continue in 2014.

Community Development Department

Kendall Square Central Square Planning Study (K2C2)

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Central Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 1, December 2013

Kendall Square Final Report 2013 Part 2, December 2013

This comprehensive planning effort guided by stakeholder advisory committees, City staff, and a team of multidisciplinary consultants led by Goody Clancy, developed a vision and master plan for Central Square, Kendall Square, and the area South of Main Street (including the Osborn Triangle) connecting the two squares. Both final reports are divided into two parts; in each case you will need to review both parts to read the entire report.

June 8, 2013

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes

Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Six Pivotal Episodes

By Thad Tercyak, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Associate Director, 1968-1990

In 2012, the Cambridge Civic Journal published "Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: Initial Years, 1963 to 1982". The following commentary focuses on six pivotal episodes during the 1963-1982 time period which provided the impetus for major development in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project. Successful development of the Kendall Square Project was a major factor in helping to attract high-tech companies to locate in the eastern sector of the City of Cambridge. Today there are over 163 institutional research companies within a 1-mile radius of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area (Source: Boston Consulting Group, Capital IQ DB, U.S. Census Bureau, National Science Foundation.)

The episodes are described in chronological order.

1. Conceptualization and initiation of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project

In 1963, Mr. Robert F. Rowland, a city planner with extensive urban redevelopment experience, commuted to his job with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), parking his car in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Kendall Square rapid transit station parking lot. He noticed the area north of the rapid transit station was severely underdeveloped and an urban blight with underutilized, largely vacant and obsolete industrial and warehouse buildings. Because of the extent of urban blight, there did not appear to be any prospects for private development there. As a city planner, he visualized the land as an ideal site for urban redevelopment because of its unique locational advantages, including the rapid transit station, proximity to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), direct subway connections to Harvard and downtown Boston, and easy connection to Logan Airport.

Rowland was aware President John F. Kennedy had assigned the task of sending an American astronaut safely to and from the Moon before the end of the decade to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which was searching for a site in the Boston area for development of its Electronic Research Center.

On their own time, Rowland and two associates sketched out a redevelopment plan for the Kendall Square area which would accommodate NASA and provide land for NASA-related private development. He presented his concept plan to the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) which asked him to work with the CRA to move the plan through the redevelopment process. Rowland agreed, left his job with the BRA, was hired by the CRA and in 1964 was appointed CRA Executive Director.

In 1964, the CRA presented the concept plan to the Cambridge City Council. The Council voted to have the CRA prepare a redevelopment plan for the Kendall Square area with two objectives: (1) to provide land for both NASA and private development which would generate needed tax revenues for the City of Cambridge and employment opportunities; and (2) to secure maximum federal funds to help alleviate concerns about Cambridge’s ability to finance its share of the cost to carry out the project.

With respect to the first objective, the City of Cambridge, with support from local and congressional representatives, convinced NASA officials of the advantages of a Kendall Square location. After discussions and consultations among the CRA, NASA, Cambridge representatives and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it was determined that development could be expedited by using the urban renewal process.

2. Financing Cambridge’s $6.5-million share of the project cost

With respect to the second objective, the CRA advised Cambridge officials to take advantage of a complex urban renewal financing formula which could be used to "secure maximum federal funds" to finance Cambridge’s share of the cost to carry out the project.. The formula, based on Section 112 of the Housing Act of 1949, provided that expenditures by educational institutions and hospitals on facilities located within a mile of an urban renewal project that contributed to the objectives of the urban renewal project can be used as credits ("Section 112 credits") to cover the local share of the project cost.

The CRA took the lead in coordinating the efforts of Cambridge, MIT officials and congressional representatives to work out the details required to secure federal approval of the Section 112 credits financing plan. The City and MIT entered into an agreement which provided that MIT prepare a Development Plan which included MIT property located within a mile of the redevelopment area to be used for educational purposes. After the City’s review and approval of the plan, the expenditures incurred by MIT to acquire land and construct buildings in accordance with the plan could be used as Section 112 credits. Subsequently, when the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project was approved, MIT provided $6.5-million dollars in Section 112 credits to cover the City of Cambridge’s entire share of the project cost.

3. NASA Quits. CRA amends Kendall Square redevelopment plan and objectives

The original Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan covered 43 acres of land and designated 29 acres for use by NASA and 14 acres for NASA-related private development. The initial four years of the project were executed expeditiously. The CRA transferred 19 acres of vacant land to NASA for construction of a 14-story office tower and five low-rise buildings, and prepared an additional 10 acres of vacant land for future development by NASA. In 1970, without warning, NASA decided to abandon its operations in the project. It indicated it did not need the 10-acre site of vacant land designated for its development, and was transferring its interests in the project to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). DOT established the National Transportation System Center on the site formerly occupied by NASA and named it after John A. Volpe, Secretary of DOT and former governor of Massachusetts

Cognizant that the 10-acre site originally designated for NASA’s use under the terms of the original Kendall square Urban Renewal Plan was still undeveloped and in CRA possession, the CRA recognized an opportunity to expand the area of land which could be developed for private uses which would benefit Cambridge more than if the land was developed by the federal government. The CRA decided to amend the Kendall Square Plan to designate new reuses for the undeveloped land even though that meant starting again the complicated and time consuming process of preparing a second Kendall Square Plan.

The CRA commenced negotiations with DOT Secretary Volpe, making the case that DOT should relinquish its rights to Parcel 2 because NASA’s withdrawal from the project was a breach of its contractual obligation with the CRA; a flagrant disregard of its commitment to the community; and had undermined the City’s program to market the project area for private development. After 2 years of prolonged negotiations among the CRA, DOT, U.S. General Services Administration, and HUD, Secretary Volpe released DOT’s rights to Parcel 2 to the CRA.

When NASA decided to withdraw from the Kendall Square area, the feeling in the City of Cambridge was that the project had been delivered a tremendous setback because it had lost its major developer. As it turned out, despite the years of development delays caused by NASA’s the withdrawal, it was a blessing in disguise because the additional 10-acres of land plus the 14 acres already designated for private development became a 24-acre site large enough to create a critical mass for high-tech development in the Kendall Square Project which eventually helped to attract additional high-tech development in the eastern sector of Cambridge.

4. Urban Land Institute Advisory Services engaged to help break planning deadlock.

Cambridge was unprepared for carrying out the difficult and complicated tasks involved in overhauling the original plan and replacing it with an entirely new plan. Cambridge City Council created a task force comprised of representatives from a cross-section of Cambridge organizations and the Cambridge Planning Department to work with the CRA in the re-planning effort. A number of plans were developed, including proposals with contradictory project objectives, including "quick-fix" land uses, such as a beer distribution warehouse, a soccer field, open space, even restoring the Broad Canal, but the City could not arrive at a consensus.

Over time, a cloud descended over the project’s development potential and grumbles concerning the apparent lack of progress in redeveloping the site began to be heard, even mockery about changing the name of Kendall Square to "Nowhere Square".

To help break the planning deadlock, the CRA retained the advisory panel services of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to review the Kendall Square Project and propose ways to move the project in the right direction. In carrying out the assignment for the CRA, panel members first spent two days reviewing comprehensive briefing materials prepared by the CRA staff and touring the project and surrounding area. Then individual panelists and teams conferred with nearly 100 community spokespersons, citizens, business persons, government officials, members of the local real estate community, and others interested and concerned with the future revitalization of the Kendall Square area.

The ULI panel concluded that only a few properties in the country had a broader array of locational advantages as the Kendall Square area and the opportunities associated with the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project: "Cambridge Center is a unique opportunity area, one that should be reserved to maximize its locational advantages". The ULI panel presented a point of view that the Kendall Square Project was a valuable asset that has the potential to produce great benefits to the City of Cambridge; and that the CRA and Cambridge City Council should resist the impulse to dispose of the land to take advantage of its short term marketability in response to concerns being expressed about development delays. The panel urged the CRA and City to be patient and adopt an optimal type of development that reflected the highest and best use for the land which would bring the greatest long range benefit to the Cambridge community. The panel proposed a long-term, sophisticated, large-scale, mixed-use optimal type of development.

The ULI panel’s professionalism and diligence in carrying out its mission impressed and gained the confidence of the CRA and Cambridge City Council which endorsed the panel’s recommendations and approved a Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan for a mixed-use development, with the general objectives of generating tax revenues and jobs.

The ULI panel also warned that attracting developers would not be easy: "Citizen concerns, political pressures, economic uncertainty, and the absence of a united and strong development process have combined to create a credibility problem with the real estate development community". The Panel advised the CRA could overcome developer skepticism about the development climate in Cambridge by establishing a record for getting things done.

The CRA responded by removing all legal and technical impediments to development; completing an Environmental Impact Statement; securing plan and zoning amendments; and carrying out a $7-million public improvements program, including construction of infrastructure and execution of traffic circulation plans.

5. Boston Properties selected to develop Cambridge Center

For marketing purposes the name Cambridge Center was adopted to refer to the 24 acres in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project outside of the land occupied by DOT. In 1978, the CRA invited proposals to develop Cambridge Center. Four well qualified developers were selected as finalists, including Boston Properties which was not as well known in the Boston area as the other developers. After exhaustive interviews with each developer and analysis of each development proposal, the CRA designated Boston Properties as developer for Cambridge Center because it had two significant advantages over its competition:

1. Boston Properties’ two principals had worked as a team for many years producing a number of successful well-designed real estate developments nationwide. In contrast, the other finalists had undergone changes or formed new teams, making evaluations of future performance difficult.

2. Boston Properties’ financial capabilities were impressive. It was well capitalized and had a net worth adequate to sustain a large and complex development such as Cambridge Center. It had current assets sufficient to fund first-rate design and site planning; a cash flow arising from a broad, geographically diverse base of real estate investments that could support substantial start-up costs and sustain development during difficult economic times; and a proven ability to manage investment property effectively and efficiently.

Boston Properties turned out to be the right choice because it had the background, experience, resources and patience to attract the type of users that met the standards proposed in the ULI recommendations, that of promoting land development to its highest and best uses. Subsequently, the development of Cambridge Center benefitted the City of Cambridge by achieving goals for the amended Kendall Square Urban Renewal Plan set by the Cambridge City Council: generating $15-million in annual property tax revenues and 7,500 jobs.

6. High-tech development

The combination of (a) the presence of MIT, an international leader in high-tech research and innovation; (b) Polaroid’s decision to locate in Technology Square, a real estate development started in the 1960’s by Cabot, Cabot and Forbes in partnership with MIT that also included Rogers Block, a CRA urban renewal project adjacent to the Kendall Square Project; (c) the presence of Draper Laboratories in the immediate neighborhood; and (d) decisions by the Whitehead Institute and Biogen in 1982 to locate in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area were key elements leading to the emergence of high-tech development in the Kendall Square Project, and helping to attract major technology and biotechnology development in the eastern sector of Cambridge. Today there are over 163 institutional research companies within a 1-mile radius of the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Project area.


P.S. Robert F. Rowland was CRA Executive Director during all the episodes from 1963 to 1982.

As CRA Associate Director, Thad Tercyak participated directly in the episodes from 1968 to 1990.

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