Sunday, July 14, 2024

All boats rise with the tides, even on the Charles River.

I write in strong support of the proposed CambridgeSide rezoning, which will allow for a much-needed redevelopment. The revitalization is sorely needed, not only for CambridgeSide in an era of dramatic retail change and a spate of “everything must go” signs, but also for area businesses who depend on a healthy CambridgeSide.

The two are connected like the tides – a healthy CambridgeSide translates to a healthy local economy. And so I write on behalf of nearby hotels, restaurants, stores and shops that share a common interest to revitalize this linchpin of our neighborhood.

I’ve studied the CambridgeSide redevelopment proposal closely. It will bring incredible vibrancy to CambridgeSide, create thousands of jobs, provide much-needed affordable/workforce housing, generate more than $60 million in community benefits, enhance area property values and yield significant tax revenues for the City of Cambridge to defray the mounting costs of public safety, schools and other municipal needs.

What’s there not to support?

The reverse is a declining CambridgeSide, a bleaker First Street, and area businesses on the wane. The options are clear.

The Planning Board has come to terms with this in its recent 5-1 vote to recommend CambridgeSide rezoning. A majority of the board reached consensus on the height and massing of the proposed redevelopment, the critical need for a greater commitment to housing and a mixed-use program to maintain the mall as a commercial center, reactivating First Street and surrounding areas.

Forty-one years ago, the East Cambridge Riverfront Plan created a vision for a mixed-use community gathering place, combining pedestrian and commercial uses and creating a core of activity in and around the Canal and the Charles River, as many have noted. The vision came to light in 1990 with the opening of the CambridgeSide Galleria.  

Now far more vision is needed to sustain CambridgeSide and the area economy. New England Development has proposed an extraordinary plan of great vision for the future, one that dramatically benefits the city and the East Cambridge Community.

The Ordinance Committee should act with dispatch to refer the CambridgeSide rezoning proposal to the City Council, who should adopt this rezoning for the good of all.

All boats rise with the tides on the Charles, as do area businesses with a healthy local economy inspired by great vision.

Joe Capalbo

Joe Capalbo is area director of hotel operations for Kimpton Hotels of New England and the general manager of Kimpton Marlowe Hotel on Edwin H. Land Boulevard in East Cambridge.