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Zoning changes will allow residential high-rise in Kendall Square

Posted by Brock Parker  December 16, 2013 04:35 PM

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The Cambridge City Council has approved zoning changes that will allow Boston Properties to build a high-rise with 240 residential units and ground floor retail space in Kendall Square.

The zoning change will allow the construction of a high-rise up to 250 feet tall along Ames Street, where the city is also selling Boston Properties a 20-foot-wide strip of land between Main Street and Broadway for about $2 million.

David Stewart, a senior project manager for Boston Properties, said design work could now move quickly and the developer could seek the special permits for the project in the first half of 2014.

“If market conditions remain where they are, this has a very good chance of starting by the end of next year,” Stewart said.

The City Council voted 6-2 in favor of the zoning changes last week, but final approval was temporarily delayed when City Councilor Minka vanBeuzekom requested the vote come up for reconsideration Monday, Dec. 16. She has since withdrawn the request for reconsideration, according to a letter vanBeuzekom sent City Clerk Donna Lopez last Wednesday, Dec. 11.

The high-rise is expected to include a mix of studio, one and two bedroom apartments, including 31 affordable units.

Boston Properties made commitments to the city in 2010 to develop a 200,000 square foot residential project within seven years of receiving a certificate of occupancy for the new Broad Institute research facility at 75 Ames Street.

Cambridge City Manager Richard Rossi said the developer sent a letter to the city in April asking if it would consider selling a narrow strip of land along Ames Street next to land controlled by Boston Properties to facilitate the construction of the residential high-rise.
The city conducted a request for proposals for the property, and selected Boston Properties’ proposal in November.

Last week, the city council also voted 8-0 to authorize the city to move forward with selling the property to Boston Properties. Rossi said selling the land will result in the right-of-way on Ames Street being reduced from 100 to 80 feet wide.

Boston Properties also proposed zoning changes in September in an effort to eliminate a restriction that would prevent the construction of a high-rise residential building in the Ames Street district. The developer also proposed changes to open space and parking and loading requirements in the area, as well as raising the cap on the number of fast food establishments allowed in the district from three to 15.

According to a letter Boston Properties sent to the city in September requesting the zoning changes, the developer is seeking to lease space to Cambridge-based Clover restaurants, which would be considered a fast food establishment under local laws.
City Councilor Craig Kelly voted against the zoning changes along with vanBeuzekom, who first voted yes and then changed her vote after saying she felt the approval had been rushed.

In her letter to the city clerk, vanBeuzekom said she had withdrawn her request to reconsider the zoning changes because it appeared unlikely that the voting outcomes on the zoning petition would change.

Boston Properties must now obtain a special permit from the city’s planning board to move forward with the project.

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