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 Round Table Meeting

Round Table Meeting Minutes #1

In City Council April 25, 2012

Update from Goody Clancy and the Community Development Department on the Kendall Central Study

PRESIDING OFFICER                    Mayor Henrietta Davis

PRESENT       Mayor Davis, Councillors Cheung, Decker, Maher, Reeves and vanBeuzekom, City Manager Robert W. Healy, Deputy City Manager Richard Rossi, Assistant to the City Manager Nancy Schlacter, Assistant City Manager for Community Development Brian Murphy, Deputy Director, Community Development Department (CDD), Susan Glazer, Director of Urban Design, CDD, Roger Booth, Zoning and Land Use Project Planner, CDD, Iram Farooq, Public Works Commissioner Lisa Peterson, City Engineer Owen O'Riordan, Senior Engineer Katherine Watkins, Executive Director, Historical Commission Charles Sullivan, Interim City Clerk Donna P. Lopez and Administrative Assistant, City Clerk's Office Paula Crane.

Also present were Davis Dixon and Ben Carlsen from Goody Clancy.

SEE ATTACHED SUMMARY OF DISCUSSION POINTS.

ADJOURNMENT                             6:08 PM motion of Councillor Cheung

 

SUMMARY OF MATTERS DISCUSSED

The purpose of this meeting was for an update on Kendall Square by Goody Clancy and the Community Development Department.

Brian Murphy, Assistant City Manager for Community Development thanked Council for the opportunity to update all present on Kendall Square.  He felt that it is timely for an update on what is happening with the process and community discussions.  He stated that in Kendall Square there are limited opportunities but that the key piece is proximity to MIT and to research institutions.  He stated that trajectory needs to continue to make Kendall Square vital and livable.  He stated that it is important to be creative in the live and play components and that it is important to think of open space for the entire area.  There is a need to look at this as a design perspective from the ground up and that good design and streetscape issues are important.  He stated that this is a challenging exercise.  He commented that the Kendall Square Committee is winding down and final recommendations will be put into proposals for the City.

He introduced Dave Dixon, Goody Clancy, Chief Consultant.  Mr. Dixon stated that it has been a pleasure to work on this project.  He stated that it has been a fascinating endeavor and that he favors the active engagement in the process.  He submitted a PowerPoint presentation as a guideline to his presentation (ATTACHMENT A).

Mr. Dixon stated that K2C2 are two different projects.  His presentation was a summary of findings for Kendall Square and update on Central Square.  He stated that one thing that struck him is that there are constants such as livability, community character, and sustainability in both areas.  Neighborhoods around Kendall Square work well with similar kinds of housing.  They are next to the center of rapid change.  He wanted this area to be a mutual benefit to all.  He stated that Kendall Square is the most productive in terms of measures used by innovation districts and it is literally about to run out of space as currently envisioned.  He stated that this site should be transit-oriented.  He spoke of the growing labor shortage of educated workers and that places such as Kendall Square have to compete for the educated and creative employees by offering a certain lifestyle.  This means walk ability of streets with plenty of housing and cool places to hang out.  He stated that Kendall Square is currently shaped around institutions and companies but the current vision should be shaped around people.   It should be the goal to create a place that can achieve the promise of this vision: great places that foster community and vitality, promotes environmental sustainability and mix living, working and playing for creative interaction.

Place making fosters community and vitality.  These are things that make Kendall Square a better neighbor.  People want a continuum of public realms such as gardens, plazas surrounded by activities, cafes, and parks.  The first step is to concentrate on the market for additional retail.  A main focus would be on the community that is shaped around a lively square.  

Mayor Davis asked about One Kendall Square and stated that some perceive this building as being part of Kendall Square and so brings up the question of knitting it together with Kendall Square.  She would like to see that area knit within this plan.  Mr. Dixon stated that before developed this would require its own study.  Mayor Davis stated that many view this as part of Kendall Square and that this issue should be researched. 

Brian Murphy stated that as they look into the open spaces and parks and way finding, One Kendall will be included in that discussion. 

Mayor Davis commented that she thinks of rooftops as resources and that in the planning, typically only the ground is considered.  She believes that roofs are a valuable resource and as a concept in thinking of Kendall Square she thinks of energy and the importance of roof resources.  Mr. Dixon stated roof top opportunities need to be explored.  Retail will be doubled along Main, Broadway and Third Streets.

Mr. Dixon stated that this is a connected network that should extend into East Cambridge.  He stated that the city is about to launch a process into looking at this area and the Volpe site and the possible configuration of a park.  Incentives will be for street front retail.  He spoke about connection from Third Street to the Board Canal.

Regarding mixed use and activity, Mr. Dixon stated that Goody Clancy in the plan would like to add 1,000 or more housing units in Kendall Square.  He stated that this housing would reach across all income levels.  If the plan is implemented more housing is proposed around the Broad Canal.  The plan would like to add 6 or 7 million square feet combining housing, retail and research.  Mr. Dixon then explained the mixed use of housing units and research and office retail.  He stated that the main point is that the Kendall Square would be a mixed use environment.  He noted that Kendall Square is a place that needs to grow in and not out. 

Mr. Dixon commented on how to grow in and up.  He noted that it is imperative to ensure that there is a well-defined street wall and that large, monolithic buildings should be avoided.  He stated that the next buildings in Kendall Square need to be varied compared to the technology buildings that are more statement buildings. 

Councillor Reeves inquired about the Osborne Triangle and cited four new buildings.  The one closest to Main Street is the Pfizer.  On the subject of new growth he questioned if there was concern that some of the buildings may disappear because they will be viewed as obsolete.   He believes that if timing was not such a big question, he wondered if Boston Properties would have re-visited the issue of better space usage.  Roger Boothe stated that the Broad Institute got permission to expand on Main Street and it will be connected with its existing building.

Mayor Davis felt that the height for these buildings would be a dramatic change.  She suggested that a discussion should take place regarding building heights.  She expressed her concern about the shadow cast by taller buildings.

Mr. Dixon then spoke about suggested design guidelines, the main points being active ground level use, design and architecture.  He commented that building variety, the use of glass, stone, etc., will form the character of the area.

Mr. Dixon spoke of active street frontage in core areas, where retail would be on Broadway, Main and Third in the proposal.  If a ground-floor location did not have an active tenant, the City of Cambridge would step in and an arts organization, educational or cultural organization would be sited in that location.

Councillor Decker stated that Kendall Square and Central Squares seem to have turned into one conversation.  She spoke of prior talk that took place involving Newtowne Court and Washington Elms and potential development for these sites.  She felt that these issues have caused unnecessary anxiety to the residents.  She commented that her hope is that in moving forward there is a need to be mindful and respectful that these are people's homes.  Mr. Murphy stated that taking people from their homes has never been on the table when discussing future development. 

Mr. Dixon stated that people in public housing deserve to come to the table and have a say in their future.  He understands the sensitivity.  Councillor Decker stated that there is distrust from the residents and this process has not increased trust.  She noted that in the aftermath of these issues there is a real opportunity for trust to be built. 

Councillor Decker spoke about disconnect between the Area 4 neighborhood and the Kendall Square boom.  She noted that it is important to ensure that Kendall Square does not become a community unto itself.  She stated that with the availability of new jobs, it is important for Cambridge residents to be involved in that job pipeline.  Partnerships need to be created.  An example would be to welcome workers that come to Cambridge and informing them of the opportunities regarding schools, recreation, and life beyond Kendall Square so they will feel that they belong to the city. 

Councillor Reeves commented that he did not see one member from the Area 4 community or the neighborhood association at the Novartis groundbreaking for three new buildings.  He noted that communication with residents is a priority.

Councillor Decker stated that she would like to know more about where Goody Clancy has identified the 1000 units of housing.  She would like a list of potential housing sites.  She is curious as to value of this development.  What is the total cost?  She stated that the other issue is that the Kendall Square Association has brought great press but that non-profits and residents feel excluded in the partnership processes and that the burden of this exclusion will fall on the Community Development Department.   

Councillor Reeves commented that one thing that we are learning is that the process is messy.  He stated that it is not based on science.  He noted that the Planning Department is making connections but that it will take time.  He thanked the Planning Department for their role. 

Councillor Cheung then inquired about retail development.  Mr. Dixon stated that retail development needs to be on the ground floor of buildings.  Mr. Murphy stated that we need to ensure that the retail that the City will require will be successful and will work well in Kendall Square.  Councillor Cheung questioned if buildings can be built and retail space made to be convertible.

Mr. Dixon stated that there will be no single use zoning in Kendall Square and that the requirements are that ground floors need to support and accommodate retail.

Councillor Maher questioned the Volpe Center.  Mr. Murphy commented that nothing will happen at this site immediately.  He stated that the federal government is taking a look at its real estate opportunities.  The Volpe Center has been clear that their first priority is their work and research.  The City has asked them to envision what their goal is for the future.  The City would like them to think creatively to ensure that their requirements are met on site but other parcels could be freed up for other opportunities.  Councillor Maher stated that the reality of the Volpe Center is that there are many obstacles to overcome and that development will take place all around the Volpe Center.

Councillor Decker commented that a retreat should be scheduled on this issue.  She stated that the City Council has not been in the loop regarding discussions about the Volpe Center.  The City Council needs to be on the same page as other organizations and groups.

Councillor Reeves stated that this process is important to him.  He believes that the City must use its resources wisely.  He would like to talk about the MIT campus and their 6 or 7 new buildings that are being talked about.  He questioned why the street ways currently do not make sense in Kendall Square.  He questioned who is looking into the coherence of the pedestrian experience.  He would like to see Goody Clancy make recommendations for improvements for plazas, etc.  He questioned why Draper Lab is not part of the Kendall development.  He noted that with the given potential in Kendall Square, the historic importance of buildings is a one to ponder. 

Mayor Davis stated that the zoning proposal from MIT will be before the City Council soon. 

Mr. Dixon stated that another meeting on the topics of Kendall and Central Square would be of great benefit to all.

Mr. Dixon stated that Goody Clancy is looking at mechanisms to extend support to households that do not qualify for assistance but that have been priced out of the area.  He stated that the community benefit is parks and public spaces, education, expanded transportation alternatives and demand management.  

Councillor Decker stated that an additional meeting needs to be scheduled to go over all the issues.  She stated that this needs to be a strategic meeting with planned follow-up meetings.  Mayor Davis stated that she will work with Good Clancy about the way to structure this meeting so that there is strategic planning. 

Councillor Murphy stated that the Kendall Square and Central Square Committees are made up of community members and staff from the Community Development Department which will then give their recommendations to the City Council.  The Community Development Department will then take the concepts that come out of the meetings to present to the City Council. 

Councillor Reeves pointed out that this work represents a different conversation, one that is not reactive about zoning but one which people have thought through that they might like to see for the time when the proposal comes forth.  He stated the importance of this issue and that it deserves the City Council's time and attention.

Mr. Dixon stated that regarding sustainability, Cambridge is very current in this respect.  The Volpe Center should be perceived as a district rather than a series of buildings.  The Redline has growth potential.  He suggested looking regionally for who is coming to Kendall Square, from where and how to get them to Kendall Square without the use of a car.

Mr. Dixon then moved on to explain the transportation issues and initiatives. 

Mayor Davis thanked all those present.  She stated she would work on setting another meeting to hear the presentation for Central Square and what the next steps in the process are.

On motion of Councillor Cheung the meeting adjourned at 6:08 p.m.

Donna P. Lopez
Interim City Clerk

 

 

 

  
  

View attached file

 

  
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