Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Volpe parcel’s proposed open space. (Image: Mitimco)

When plans for the 14-acre Volpe parcel return to the Planning Board on July 20 for a rezoning petition filed June 21, there will be a few notable changes, including a Third Street Park redesigned for more combined open space and a community center expanded to 25,000 square feet from 20,000. (And a community center endowment promise of $10 million, up from $3.5 million.)

These are the final zoning documents, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which won rights to develop the parcel in 2016. Work began in 2019 to enable the first part of the project: relocating the federal Volpe Transportation Center, which is paying for its new building by letting go of the rest of its land.

Around the federal research building will be 1.7 million square feet of commercial development, including retail, and approximately 1,400 housing units, or 40 percent of the development, according to publicly released plans. But with residents led to believe over the years that there would be a 7.5-acre Kendall Square park, the radical decrease to an arguable 3.5 became a sticking point for Planning Board members in April. 

Seven members gave preliminary approval to allow for the final development plans to be submitted, but there was grumbling about the open space feeling “squeezed” between buildings, and some residents expressed doubt that what was planned would be enough for a growing population. 

Here’s what the open space plan and Third Street Park looked like in April:

In other development news:

  • The Avalon North Point and Avalon North Point Lofts buildings have been sold by AvalonBay Communities for $325 million to Blackstone, a global company with Cambridge offices in Kendall Square. The sale was noted June 26 on the Bldup real estate industry platform. The buildings straddle Glassworks Avenue in the North Point neighborhood, near its Cambridge Crossing development. Avalon North Point is a 22-story structure with 426 units; the loft building has 103. Amenities in the high-end properties include an indoor, heated pool, private theater, sports club and an entertainment lounge.
  • Union Square Station Associates has acquired 50 Webster Ave., Somerville, for $19 million, and will turn it into a 280,000 square-foot mixed-use life-sciences building, according to a spokesperson for the project. Bldup reported the sale June 29. It’s part of the massive Union Square Revitalization Plan that was approved by Somerville’s planning board in December 2017 with up to 1,000 new homes and some 157,000 square feet of public space improvements. The Webster Avenue plot is the farthest from Union Square itself, but the green line extension stop – a spur from the Lechmere station – will be just to the north; residents on that side of the building will be able to look down and see (and hear) trains arrive.

This post was updated July 7, 2021, to correct a description of a 50 Webster Ave., Somerville, project.