The final reports for the Kendall and Central Square studies (K2C2) are on line here: http://www.cambridgema.gov/CDD/News/2013/12/k2c2finalreportsreleased.aspx
There is a lot of meat in these reports and this coming Council term promises to provide some interesting and challenging zoning and development opportunities and discussions. We all want various things for the Kendall Square/Central Square areas but it’s pretty clear we can’t make everybody happy about everything. A lot of people want to see more “family friendly” housing, but we don’t really know how “family friendly” various types of housing are, or for how long, or for whom. We want affordable housing, but run into challenges when we try to figure out whether we want to provide it for seniors, who may only need one bedroom, or families, that may want three or more bedrooms, or single people without kids. Or what affordable really means as we explore middle-income affordability. And no one wants more cars. Or more noise. Or more shadows. The City’s ability to influence any of these issues is limited to what zoning allows us- limitations on height and Floor Area Ratio, specifically enumerated appropriate uses, setbacks, open space- and what incentives we can offer for certain things we want- increased density, higher buildings, less parking requirements, cash payments, access to City-owned land.
What is clear is that there is a lot of new development going on already in this area- 300 Mass Ave’s groundbreaking is next week, Novartis just topped its project last month- and more changes are going to come to Central Square, Kendal Square and the areas in between. How to make those changes as positive as possible, in both the short and long term, is going to be something we’ll all have to focus on. And our discussions need to reflect that ours is a world where retail is likely to drastically change, where ideas of personal and urban mobility are shifting and where even education, a cornerstone of both Cambridge’s economy and its desirability as a place to raise families, is likely not to stay substantially the same in the face of massive online open courses and textbook-less secondary schools. Add in climate change and homeland security concerns, an aging population and all sorts of other things and we’ve got a lot to chew on. Certainly, trying to see the future and designing a City to embrace it will keep us all busy.