The MIT student community was a no-show at Tuesday’s presentation on the reinvention of Kendall Square. There were about 100 people in attendance; 80 percent were the general public, while the remainder were city employees, committee members, etc. Two MIT students were there, and also many community residents, including some MIT faculty and retirees from 303 Third Street.
Cambridge and their consultants ran through 72 slides summarizing the past year’s worth of work by the Kendall Square committee.
Sarah E. Gallop, MIT’s local government liaison, said yesterday that MIT intended to resubmit a revised zoning petition for the Kendall area and east side of campus in mid-May, though the city’s Kendall-to-Central study is not yet expected to have published results by then.
MIT first submitted its proposal last spring, then withdrew it while the city went forward with its process. MIT’s new proposal is being guided by its participation in the city’s process, Gallop said. It has two reps on the committee, one from Facilities and one from the MIT Investment Management Company.
The presentation was primarily conducted by David Dixon of Goody, Clancy & Associates, which is conducting and facilitating the study for the city.
Dixon began by focusing on active street-level uses in the area (especially retail); covered community green-space issues (especially the park at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Center, which the city hopes the federal government will sell, lease, or otherwise transfer to the city); transforming the area around the Kendall/MIT subway station into a public plaza; and promoting buildings as mixed-use between residential and commercial/research.
Dixon presents a future Kendall Square where buildings can rise as high as 300 feet, but where the tallest of those buildings (above 250’) can only be used for residential housing, and per-floor area is restricted to 10,000 square feet, keeping the tallest buildings narrow.
Shorter buildings will be allowed larger floorplates, with up to 30,000 square feet for 250'-high buildings, and 42,000 square feet for 85'–120' buildings. Shorter buildings can use their full block size. The tall buildings are allowed to go grow wider as they go down.
The committee will also encourage “upper-floor connections” between buildings, but those connections will be for private use of particular tenants in their buildings, and will not be publicly accessible. They are intended to permit research and business tenants whose space requirements exceed the floorplate limits mentioned above to use connected space in adjacent buildings.
The committee also intends to address housing, which local residents have felt has been promised by developers, but not actually realized. The proposal will require developers to begin housing development by the time they complete 40 percent of their associated nonresidential space, and to complete the housing construction before they complete 80 percent of the nonresidential space. The committee projects 500–600 additional units of housing, taking the Kendall area to 2,000–2,500 units of housing.
Analyzing transportation, the committee noted that Kendall has the smallest bus capacity (768 people/hour) of any nearby transit hub (Lechmere, 1,008; Central, 1,509; Sullivan, 2,434), suggesting there is room to improve the bus service to Kendall.
With respect to the Red Line, 11 percent of riders who exit at Kendall board at either Charles or Central, one stop away. The committee attributes this to the undesirability of the walk from either of those locations, and hopes to improve the walkability of the area surrounding Kendall. In the immediate vicinity, they will try to increase ground-floor retail; the intentions for the transition area between Central and Kendall are less clear.
After the presentation, attendees broke off into small groups to provide feedback to the committee.
In the coming months, the city and its consultants will work with the committee to finalize the proposed zoning changes that will result from this process. At the same time, the city and its consultants are proceeding with a parallel process in Central Square, with a different advisory committee. The Central Square phase of the process is just gearing up and should complete in later summer.