Yesterday MIT filed a petition with the City of Cambridge requesting zoning changes for the campus east of Ames Street. MIT proposes to create a new zoning district to support future academic and retail development in the next ten years.
The district is essentially the east side of campus and abutting parts of Kendall Square: roughly the area bounded by Ames Street, Main Street, the east edge of the Sloan School, and Memorial Drive, in the addition to 1 Broadway an office building which is across Main Street from E60, the new Sloan building.
The proposal is available at http://tech.mit.edu/V131/N23/kendall/.
MIT’s proposal comes after several preliminary steps by MIT for changes to the Kendall Square area, beginning in the fall with a series of meetings held with the MIT community and the Kendall community conducted by Steven C. Marsh of the MIT Investment Management Company. Marsh oversees MIT’s real estate portfolio.
It also comes at a time when there are many changes happening in the areas between Central Square and Kendall Square. The City has hired Goody Clancy and Associates to conduct a study of urban development in the areas between and including the two squares and to provide a framework for consideration of a number of zoning proposals affecting that area, including MIT’s.
Other proposals before the City include a proposal by Novartis to change the zoning for their new building at the site of the old Analog Devices building on Mass Ave; a zoning proposal by Forest City Associates to raze the block north of Random Hall and construct a new life sciences building, which requests zoning changes; and a special permit request to build a new building for the Broad Institute at 75 Ames Street.
Added to this mix is MIT’s proposal. Though framed as the “Kendall Square Initiative,” with an accompanying website (http://kendallsquareinitiative.org), the zoning petition is really only about MIT’s property, and ignores the north side of Main Street occupied by the Mariott hotel, the Cambridge Center buildings that include the MIT Coop, etc.
MIT’s proposal requests a height limit of 250 feet within the zone, with up to two buildings of 300 feet. Some areas within the zone will have smaller height limits, such as 150 feet near Memorial Drive.
By comparison, the area is currently in four different zoning districts. The frontage along Main Street is currently zoned for 120 feet, MIT would increase it to 250 feet. Along Ames Street and Amherst streets, 120 feet will increase to 200 feet. Along Memorial Drive, from 120 feet to 150 feet. At one Broadway, from 230 feet to 250 feet. And the remainder of the area, including Carleton, Hayward, and Wadsworth Streets as well as the Sloan buildings, from 120 feet to 250 feet.
In a press release, MIT suggested the zoning change would permit four new development projects over the next ten years:
• 880,000 square feet of commercial space, with two new “signature buildings.”
• 800,000 square feet of new academic space.
• 120,000 square feet of residential space
• 100,000 square feet of retail space.
Additionally, MIT said they will permit a public plaza and improvements to the Kendall MBTA subway station.
MIT’s plan is being developed by David Manfredi of Elkus/Manfredi Architects. Elkus/Manfredi is also working on the new Broad building at 75 Ames Street.
MIT’s proposal will be reviewed by the Cambridge Planning Board as well as the Cambridge City Council.