Central project reducing parking spaces draws concern; board OKs Kendall deal
Two residential buildings, one in Kendall Square and the other in Central Square, are each a tiny step closer to becoming a reality.
In Central Square, 3MJ Associates hopes to build 46 residential units of varying size and ground-floor retail at 10 Essex St. The company’s proposal was presented to the board, but no decision was made on it – giving developers and neighbors of the 10 Essex Street project time to go over details.
Mark Boyes-Watson, of Boyes-Watson Architects, discussed several waivers of regulation the building needed to go up as designed. These include a waiver of setback requirement, building height and short-term bicycle parking, but the most contentious issue was the reduction of required parking from one per unit by half.
During public comment, many residents expressed concern about waiving the parking regulations. The project will take away 28 public parking spaces and create only half the currently required spaces for the building.
Others noted that 10 Essex Street would be only a block from the Central Square MBTA stop, arguing that having less parking spaces would encourage public transportation and further Cambridge’s commitment to a green future.
“Lower parking ratios are where we have to go,” board member Steven Winter said. “We have to be bold and make this happen now.”
Other concerns about the building include what Cambridge Residents Alliance members referred to as a “Miami Beach style,” saying the turquoise color may be too loud for Central Square. Aesthetically, the public and board were also concerned with a large, blank wall seen to face the street. Currently, the design uses a textured black material to enliven the space, but resident Peter Valentine suggested it should be transformed into a mural or public art space, an idea many board members agreed with.
An updated design is to be presented to the board Jan. 21.
Kendall Square approval
A Kendall Square deal between Boston Properties and the city got Planning Board approval Tuesday night. The board recommended that the City Council approve the sale of a 8,660-square-foot portion of city-owned sidewalk so Boston Properties can move forward on building a 200,000-square-foot residential tower. The portion is along the eastern edge of Ames Street, between Broadway and Main Street.
The details of the sale allow Boston Properties to buy and use the additional space to add to adjacent properties to build the 22-story tower under the stipulation that any additional space be used as publicly beneficial open areas.
Boston Properties is looking to create a pedestrian-friendly environment by having ground-floor retail, narrowing the streets by 20 feet and improving a walkway from Ames Street to a retail and eateries. Ames Street is wider than average, leading to an automobile-dominated area, according to a report by City Manager Richard C. Rossi, so the loss of space will not affect traffic. Third Street will also be extended, past Broadway to Main Street.
The land’s price has been estimated by the city, but the exact amount will not be released until after the sale is complete, according to Jeff Roberts of the Community Development Department. Boston Property’s offer of just over $2 million was deemed acceptable by the city, and will be brought before the council for final approval with full support from the Planning Board.