Sunday, June 16, 2024
The residential tower promised for Kendall Square three times by developer Boston Properties comes before the City Council on Monday

The residential tower promised for Kendall Square three times by developer Boston Properties comes before the City Council on Monday

The residential tower promised for Kendall Square three times by developer Boston Properties – most recently in exchange for taking away 42 percent of a rooftop garden – comes before the City Council on Monday for a step that is small but crucial: the sale of a 20-foot-wide slab of sidewalk that makes possible a 200,000-square-foot apartment building.

The company has offered just over $2 million for the 8,660-square-foot portion of city-owned land on Ames Street, City Manager Richard C. Rossi said in a report to the council.

Based on two independent appraisals of the sliver of concrete, Rossi said “the amount offered is a responsive and responsible offer [that] appropriately reflects the value of the property and … is advantageous to the city.”

Without the sidewalk, there are no workable designs for the 250-foot, 240-apartment tower, Boston Properties officials have said.

In addition to looking at a sale of the sidewalk land, the council – in its first meeting back after the Nov. 5 election that saw two incumbents unseated – is getting a positive report on the zoning proposed to let the tower to go up. (Councillor Denise Simmons, who was reelected, said Thursday she is convalescing from a medical procedure that will keep her from attending meetings for the next few weeks.)

The Planning Board heard a request to create a tiny Ames Street District on Tuesday and approved the custom zoning for height and size. “It is important to note that adoption of the proposed rezoning would not constitute final approval of the project,” board chairman Hugh Russell said. The developer still needs a special permit to build, and “the urban design and transportation characteristics of the project will be reviewed in greater detail at that stage.”

The part of the zoning setting the project’s affordable-housing component will also be decided later, Russell said. At the moment there are 31 affordable apartments planned for a building the developer says will have a mix of micro-unit, studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom rentals. That’s just below 13 percent of the number of apartments, although the city’s “inclusionary housing” rules aim generally for 15 percent, or 36 units in this case.

The site would also have 9,000 square feet of ground-floor retail – residents and the developer say a pharmacy is a likely use – and the proposed zoning for the building raises the cap on fast-food businesses. Russell said the Planning Board supported the move:

The proposed zoning approach of raising the cap on fast order food establishments, instead of eliminating the cap entirely, is a reasonable approach in this case because it would continue to protect against over-proliferation and would retain the special permit review process to ensure that impacts on the character of the area would be mitigated. A more comprehensive approach to resolving issues around fast order food zoning would require more discussion and may better be approached from a citywide perspective.

A Kendall Square startup called CoUrbanize, which creates websites to serve as meeting spaces for community projects or big developments, has a website here with project information and a community forum on which Boston Properties officials sometimes answer questions or explain policy.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.