The Ordinance Committee held a public hearing on September 23, 2015 beginning at 5:43 P.M. in the Sullivan Chamber.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the petition filed by the 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.
Present at the hearing were Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Committee, Councillor Leland Cheung, Councillor Craig Kelley, Mayor David P. Maher, Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Jr., Jeff Roberts, Land Use and Zoning Project Planner, CDD Swaathi Joseph, Planner, CDD, CRA board members: Kathleen Leahy Born, Chair, D. Margaret Drury, Vice Chair, Tom Evans, Executive Director, Jason Zagg, Project Manager and Jeffrey Mullan, Attorney Foley Hoag for CRA and City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.
Also present were Stephen Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street, Laura Younger, 139 Main Street, American Red Cross, Kirk Jackson, 234 Brookline Street, Ed Dondero, Biogen, 105 Broadway, Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street, Hasson Rashid, 820 Mass. Avenue, James Rafferty, Broadway, Matt McCarty, 1 Broadway, Ian Gasco-Wiggin, I Broadway and Jamie McNeil, Local 26.
Councillor Carlone convened the hearing and explained the purpose. He outlined the format of the hearing. First, the CRA will present a PowerPoint Presentation, then comments from City Staff, next public comment and then comments from the City Council. Councillor Carlone stated that the hearing is being audio and visually recorded.
Ms. Born, chair, CRA Board, began with preparatory comments contained in the petition transmittal letter dated August 5, 2015. She spoke about why a public authority would submit a zoning petition. This is different from when a private developer submits a zoning petition. She stated that the CRA works in the public trust. Everything that the CRA does must have a clear public benefit. This is critical to the mission of the CRA. She noted the responsibility to bring the public realm along progressively. She stated that Cambridge has the opportunity to lead the state in the innovation economy. She spoke about the importance of affordable housing. She stated that the Kendall Square Urban Plan together with the zoning petition focuses not only on the livability of Kendall Square and the adjacent neighborhoods but also on needed improvements to the transit system. The CRA started working on the urban renewal plan in 2014 and due to the winter of 2015 highlighted the importance of the transit system. She is hopeful that the CRA will be at the forefront of Cambridge's participation in a robust involvement in improving the region's public transportation, including bike, pedestrian and light rail options. She stated that the CRA welcomes public participation. She explained that there have been public meetings and board meetings held over the past year where every aspect of this plan has been discussed. She thanked the members of the public who participated in this process. She stated that the environmental impacts have always been at the top of the CRA's concerns since the development of Kendall Square began decades ago. The CRA is an active member of the ECO District. The CRA has measured traffic counts in this area ever year. This plan and the zoning petition is accompanied by an environmental impact statement.
Mr. Tom Evans gave a history of the KSURP Plan and the zoning amendment in his presentation (ATTACHMENT A). He stated that the Kendall Square was an area of decline fifty years ago. A redevelop plan saw the need for the revitalization of the area. This was based on a concept to bring the NASA Headquarters to Cambridge. The electronic research center was closed when NASA changed their plans. This land was transferred to the DOT and became the Volpe Transportation Center. A significant amount of land came back to the urban renewal plan to the CRA. This area was divided into four parcels. Parcel one was land that remained in federal holding. Parcels 2, 3 and 4 are CRA holdings for public development. A Mixed Use Development (MXD) was created by the first amendment to the urban renewal plan. The next step was to evaluate the feasibility of urban interest in Kendall Square (KS) and then seek a developer. At this time the land value of KS was zero due to the infrastructure of the area, the contaminants in the land and the general disinvestment in urban space. An RFP was done by the CRA on parcels 3 and 4. Parcel 2, which was formerly part of the NASA plan, was light industrial area. He stated that the selection criteria was based on economic goals and to create a new identify for KS. He stated that Boston Properties was selected as original developers for parcel 3 and 4 and an agreement was entered in 1979. He explained that Boston Properties took over parcel 2 as the developer when another developer pulled out. He explained the terms of the transaction. He stated that the urban renewal plan has been amended many times and has added to the development capacity. A significant amendment occurred in 1993 when biotechnology was allowed as a use in this project area. Another amendment occurred in 2004 allowed the CRA to monitor traffic in the area. The amendments also extended the time for the urban renewal plan. Mr. Evans stated that this amendment is to adapt the KSURP to what KS is today, a hub of biotechnology, information technology and a cluster of innovation. He spoke about the KSURP, the MXD amendment and the K2 Planning Study that had 4 core objectives for the area: to nurture innovation, create a great plan, promote environmental sustainability and to mix living, working, learning and playing. There are city-wide efforts that have added to the CRA's thinking about the area. He cited the other plans and initiatives. The original objects of the KSURP were reviewed and the language was clarified and the objectives revised to conform to the K2 Plan. It also outlines how the CRA will handle development in tandem with the Planning Board. There are two documents running parallel: the KSURP Amendment and the MXD zoning which goes into detail for dimensional requirements and innovation requirements. He stated that another document that will be developed is an Infill Development Concept Plan will function similar to a PUD and have a special permit process to look at the project and evaluate key issues in a infill development concept rather than building by building. He stated that the steps to amend the urban renewal plan are different than changing the zoning. He explained the urban renewal plan process. A major plan amendment requires City Council approval. This amendment is a major amendment and also requires state approval. A MEPA study is also required. A completed EIR should be available shortly. This process is running in tandem with the zoning petition that was initiated by the CRA board. The goal is to add 1 million square feet to the project area of which 600,000 will be commercial and 400,000 square feet is reserved for additional housing. This is above the 200,000 square for housing being permitted for Ames Street. The total allowance in the urban renewal area will increase to 4,302,100 square feet. He detailed additional requirements for the development. The project is looking at opportunities within the project site. The North Garage is the main commercial site; adjacent to this is a four story envisioned residential site and in the future 3 Cambridge Center. Whitehead Institute can be expanded in the urban renewal plan. The zoning for this site has been approved by the City Council but needs to be folded into the urban renewal plan. Boston Properties has been the master developer for CRA for three blocks. Boston Properties is the primary owner and it is expected to be the primary developer with capacity. A signification commercial component would be built at the North Garage, a residential building at 11 Cambridge Center at Broadway and Galileo, a mixed use building at 3 Cambridge Center and two smaller projects on Whitehead. A significant retail component will also be created on Broadway. The innovation space will be on Broadway. The residential component will come out to the street to create a strong urban presence at Broadway and Galileo. He stated that the Broad Institute is looking for a small amount of square footage within their building being converted from mechanical to office space. He explained the residential development requirements. A net 15% housing would be inclusionary units. He stated that with a height incentive of up to 350 feet for residential projects that include 25% of the space for middle income housing for 80-100% median income. There is a floorplate restriction of 12,000 square feet above the 250 feet. He entered into the record the Scribner's error in Section 14.34 (ATTACHMENT B). He stated that the urban renewal plan has 12,000 square feet but the MXD has 24,000 square feet. He explained the commercial space requirements. The K2 plan stated that Third, Broadway and Main Street all have significant retail components. This project proposes significant increases to the Broadway streetscape. Retail space could be transferred. He stated that there was been a lot of discussions about the open space in KS. The CRA has participated in the Connect Kendall Square process which identified a number of parks in KS. The space between buildings was looked at to create a network of spaces. He stated that the MXD currently requires 100,000 square feet of open space and this would be expanded to include 15% of the project land use is publicly accessible open space. Grand Junction was a key focus. He explained the parking restrictions in the MXD. He stated that parking was a key consideration in the K2 plan. A maximum parking requirement was created. He stated that the housing maximum is .75 per unit. Bike parking and electrical vehicle parking will be provided in the existing garages.
Mr. Evans stated that the MEPA Environment Impact Report will be out shortly. The CRA focus has been on transit. He spoke about investments to transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructures. He noted the exemptions from GFA cap: middle income housing, residential balconies, retail and innovation space. He spoke about the community benefits and review process. The CRA would monitor the implementation plan and track non-zoning contributions to KS. The CRA mission will use resources to further the goals for the area. He stated that transit is core to the development of KS. Relating to traffic enhancements Mr. Evans stated that since 1994 traffic has been tracked around Kendall Square by CRA. Traffic around KS are below expectations. The aggressive mode share should be maintained. A concept plan would be approved by the CRA and the Planning Board. He stated that creating a winter garden could be an indoor/outdoor space for the public to use during all seasons. Mr. Evans stated that there has been a strong focus on sustainability and on solutions. He stated that this process is unique in that there are two governmental bodies that have been oversee development. This proposes merging the previous CRA practice with the Special Permit process and to have joint approval with the CRA and the Planning Board. A concept plan would be created and approved by both boards.
Councillor Carlone suggested hearing from the City staff to evaluate the CRA proposal.
Jeff Roberts, CDD, noted that this is a proposal that will be reviewed by Planning Board on October 13th. He stated that the Community Development Department reviewed this proposal (ATTACHMENT C). He stated that he K2 plan is the guide which looked at the immediate area around KS including sustainability, economic development, housing and a second set of recommendations was made. The recommendations envisioned additional growth in KS and to make KS a better place where there are a diverse range of activities and uses that would foster more connection with the larger community. The K2 recommendations split the area into 4 different districts based on existing zoning and land ownership. He noted that the MIT zoning, referred to as the PUD 5, was adopted by the City Council in 2013. He explained that MIT is before the Planning Board for review of the development proposal. The PUDKS (Volpe Center) proposal is an initiative that the Planning Board and the City Council will be working on.
The MXD is the 3rd of the 4 component looked at in the K2. He listed areas where there is broad agreement between petition and K2. The additional capacity to add one million square feet development with a split of 600,000 non-residential and 400,000 square feet for residential is aligned with the K2 plan. Innovation and height incentives are also in line with the K2 plan. The active ground floor retail space, parking and sustainability requirements are in alignment with the K2 Plan. Mr. Roberts highlighted the areas of difference: height, affordable housing, the total open space requirement is similar, but the lot by lot requirement is not in the K2 plan. He stated that the larger issues: the development review process have not been fully discussed at the Planning Board as it relates to Planning Board and CRA review process and a clear delineation of the jurisdictions. He explained how this new process would work. He spoke about the K2 fund commitment at $10.00 and go to programming, workforce readiness and transit.
Councillor Carlone opened the hearing to comments and questions by members of the City Council.
Councillor Cheung congratulated the CRA. He is concerned that the 15% open space is open and usable. He wanted to see the green space incorporated to included access to the river and maintenance funds for the open space. He wanted to see affordable housing go to 20%. The middle income housing in KS does not work. He wanted to ensure that middle income housing gets built in KS. He would support increased height for housing. He stated that 20% innovation should be matched across the district. He supported locally owned businesses but did not want to see banks and phone stores as retail. He wanted a plan for the transit and how it will work. He wanted transportation for bikes. Car sharing needs to be included. Net zero standards need to be reflected and solar included. There should be a special architectural review for whatever is being built in this district. Mr. Evans stated that there is a commitment to open space within the project area and expanded beyond the MXD. He stated that on the transportation piece the general network of streets are set. He stated that super-blocks were built in the urban renewal. The CRA is looking to enhance the connectivity within the blocks. Broader transit service conversations have occurred with the state through the Mobility Task Force and planning is being done now. Ms. Born stated that the CRA commitment to transit is in the background of Mr. Evans and Mr. Mullan.
Councillor Toomey stated that on September 21, 2015 there were two City Council orders - his order asked if this project goes out to a bidding process for other potential developers with different ideas and would this additional development be an opportunity for additional developers. He spoke about the allocation of the open space. The affordable housing should be increased. The Grand Junction should be included in the transportation planning. City-wide mitigation and additional mitigation should go to the neighborhoods affected by this development separate from the city-wide. He wanted the commitment to be binding. He stated that he will be interested in transit issues including the Grand Junction.
Councillor McGovern spoke on affordable housing and open space. He stated that the open space should feel welcome and he wanted parks. He stated that residents from all over the city come to Kendall Square for the skating rink. He wanted the open space to be geared to a residential area. He cannot support anything less than 20% for affordable housing. He will support additional height if it means we can get to 20% affordable housing. He wanted 5 % middle income housing as a commitment.
Councillor Simmons stated that the presentation is exciting. Housing is important to her. CHA is currently renovating its properties over the next four years and the list is frozen. Looking forward people will be looking to live and/or to move to Cambridge. Cambridge has done more on housing than other cities and towns. She wants 20-25% affordable housing. She does not know if the inclusionary will impact this project. She does not want to ask for less than what Alexandria offered. She is looking for studios and 3 bedroom units so that there is a diversity of family types. She is looking for diversity in ground floor retail. She noted that the City has not developed its own plan for ground floor retail. She stated that her concern is the possibility of one large retail space such as a supermarket that is affordable. She wanted the open space contiguous, active and passive open space. She stated that East Cambridge, Area Four and Wellington-Harrington should not feel walled off. She asked if there will be home ownership opportunities. Mr. Evans stated that the zoning does not regulate tenancy and ownership. This would be kept on the list of discussion. She supported funding for public transit infrastructure. She asked the mitigation or community benefit is $10 per square foot. Mr. Evans stated that the CRA would lead the charge so that mission would be funded, implemented and greater than $10. She spoke about job training and that there are jobs for people who live in Cambridge. She wanted timelines and benchmarks. She wanted a sense of the staging of development because people are getting construction wary with Volpe, MIT and now the MXD. Mr. Evans stated that the North Garage initial phase will begin design review phase next year and construction will follow. The other developments, south of Broadway, the timeline is longer and is planned over a 10 year period. There is a lot of growth and it is being tallied. Transit analysis is planning for 2.5% growth. He stated that the inventory and EIR of the growth will be shared when completed. Councillor Simmons at the end what will the transportation burden when all the people are in the Kendall Square area. She wanted City Council to have an idea of how all this development will play out. She wanted the history of Kendall Square preserved and how does this happen. Councillor Carlone noted that the retail can be incorporated into zoning. Councillor Simmons asked to what extend are the current businesses engaged in this process. Mr. Evans stated that the engagement is with the KSA with business, innovation and biotech. There are a lot of on the street discussion with businesses in Kendall Square.
Mayor Maher thanked the presenters for the clarity of the proposal. He looks at this proposal as an opportunity to remediate the planning that happened in the l970 and 1980 and bring KS into the 21st Century. He spoke about the lack of housing. There is an opportunity to add 500+ units of housing to Kendall Square; this is a good thing. He spoke about the need for a drug store and supermarket and this will happen with critical mass. He stated that KS will be a different area in the future. He is excited about this. The City Council wants to use this opportunity and point to the community benefits and the affordable housing and the connectivity to open space in this area. He stated that Cambridge has not seen the shift to home ownership that Boston has seen. He wanted to see this happen in Cambridge. The last opportunity seen for this was 303 Third Street, but the timing was not right. There was an investment made in KS that has led to the innovation economy. He stated that all can look back to the 1980's and now say that it would be done differently.
Vice Mayor Benzan spoke about bringing part of KS into the 21st century and bring residents into the 21st century. He stated that it is important to include seniors in KS. He stated that baby boomers are looking to down size and urged finding a way to do this in KS, such as a retirement community. He stated that it is key to have a supermarket to KS; he suggested bring Market Basket to KS. He suggested push carts in the open space area and along the Grand Junction Path. He suggested incorporating a museum of the history of KS, Area Four and East Cambridge into the winter garden. Rooftop gardens are a way to grow food. The Green Line extension and having developers help to pay for some of this extension. He stated that developers are being asked to do a lot. He wanted to know what it means if the linkage fee is increased and what community benefits are. He wanted open spaces that are active. He stated that other communities are creating discovery parks. He asked how many units of affordable housing would be created. Mr. Evans under 15% requirement = 500 units of housing this equals 75 affordable units. Vice Mayor Benzan height would be along train tracks. He wanted 20-25% affordable housing. He spoke about the design of the buildings. He wanted small ground floor retail spaces for mom and pop stores. The design of streets - he is not a fan of narrow streets. He stated that if the streets are wide and accommodates bikes and buses there is a direct travel lane through the squares from Kendall to Harvard.
Councillor Kelley spoke about who owns cars and demographics of the housing. He stated that the foundational make up of Cambridge is being changed with these units. He wanted information on comparable units, car ownership who are living here; transitions rates and if children are in school.
Councillor Carlone stated that this will add value to this area and this value will go to CRA and the value is in the public domain. He stated that where buildings are being planned they make sense. He spoke about the loss of open space. He did not know what the 15% open space represents. Mr. Evans the 15% is within the MXD district - the 3 blocks and land on the other side of Galileo. Opportunities for vertical open space is being looked into. A front porch deck is being planned for the winter garden. Creative ways will be investigated for open space. The 100,000 square feet - a portion is included. The pork chop park is owned by CRA to be transferred to City as part of the open space. He spoke about transforming walkways between buildings into interesting space. Councillor Carlone commented to Mr. Roberts that 3 areas are changing rapidly: Volpe, MIT and CRA. He stated that it would be good to include the exemptions retail, office and innovation space. It would be good to get the FAR. He spoke about parking behind the housing tower. Mr. Evans stated that in current design the housing parking is below grade which is expensive so zoning is being sought that would discourage too much parking. The CRA is looking for residential parking data for the area. He further stated that new parking is being discouraged. Councillor Carlone questioned who decides how the $10 is the broken down. Mr. Evans stated that these are CRA programs developed in conjunction with the City. Councillor Carlone stated that the CRA urban design report would be useful and would supplement what the City Council has. He stated that the traffic decline is due to the bridge construction. He stated that this needs to be updated. This is a complex project and the presentation was clear.
Vice Mayor Benzan questioned storm water management and climate action to use the canal to collect water during flooding.
Councillor McGovern during construction of building that prevailing wages are paid and work with unions on the development of the buildings.
Councillor Carlone opened public comment at 7:48 PM.
Stephen Kaiser, 191 Hamilton Street, stated some of difficulties with KS have not been touch upon. We are talking about up-zoning by Volpe, CRA and MIT of between 3.5-4.5 million square feet. He stated that this will overload the Redline worse than it is today. He spoke about strangling the redline and how this is part of the common good as stated in Article 7 of the Constitution. He wanted a treatise prepared relating to his concerns. He stated that the CRA has come a long way and has won the confident of the public. CRA is becoming a respected entity. Bad architecture is not included in zoning. He also believes that the architecture is ugly in KS. He stated that the zoning has been an open process and was better than Volpe and Normandy. He stated that the CRA has taken an important initiative by looking at improving transit. He noted that sustainability issues in the presentation did not include transit. When the transit was lost last winter this was a sustainability issue. Boston Properties and MIT has looked at transit regarding KS. He stated that the EIR will be available at the end of the month. Some developers are doing their job for transit mitigation. He noted that at MBTA Control Board meeting the MBTA General Manager stated to the board that an alternative that is being considered is to cut the Redline in half and changes Cambridge perspective and what is possible at KS. This has major implication for Cambridge. He stated that regarding architecture there should be a standard of excellence for all new buildings similar in the Volpe petition.
Laura Younger, Red Cross, 139 Main Street, thanked Cambridge for helping the Red Cross to deliver services from their Cambridge address. She stated that she looks forward to continue in this process and to help it along. It is exciting to help build the future.
Ed Dondero on behalf of Biogen, stated that he supported the petition. He stated that KS is the Biogen headquarters since 1980. He stated that in the last 5 years there has been great growth for Biogen and has launch four new products. He spoke about all the progress made in drug production. Biogen is committed to sustainability and has its own co-generation plant that produces its own clean energy.
Hasson Rashid, 820 Mass. Avenue, stated that he has been trained as a human service professional. He advocated for the low income residents. The zoning use language draws a line with middle income. He noted that there is no mention of the homeless. He stated that initiative for homelessness for KS cannot occur because of the zoning. The K2 study and zoning petition is out of pace with the master plan. The charrette recommended a policy for the City to deal with homelessness. He stated that the K2 petition if allow is discriminatory for homeless; if federal taxpayers money is used then the City is mandated to address homeless in KS.
Heather Hoffman, 213 Hurley Street, address affordable housing. She stated that in the MXD district it is required at 15%. She stated that she has been critical for Boston Properties. She noted that Boston Properties took the initially risk, but they have a tremendous entitlement. Now we are seeing a reversal. She stated that if Boston Properties is forced to do good things they do good things. She wanted to make sure that the good things happen. She stated that the MXD is not subject to the noise ordinance. Inspectional Services Department has not enforced the zoning as it relates to noise. Kendall Square must be livable with strict noise provisions. She emphasized athletic fields as part of the open space. She stated that dog parks, playgrounds and athletic fields are places where people meeting each other. Good architecture needs to be demanded. and make this the standard.
Councillor Carlone closed public comment at 8:09 PM.
An e-mail was received from Carol O'Hare (ATTACHMENT D).
Councillor Carlone moved that the requests from the City Council be made part of the record. The motion carried on a voice vote. Councillor Carlone commented that this was an open discussion with great detail.
Vice Mayor and Councillor Carlone thanked all those present for their attendance.
The hearing adjourned at 8:10 PM on motion of Councillor Carlone.
For the Committee,
Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chair
Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chair