Incentive Zoning Ordinance

Second Street

The City's Incentive Zoning Ordinance requires developers seeking certain Special Permits to comply with the Incentive Zoning provisions of Section 11.200 of the Zoning Ordinance.

For the full text of the Ordinance, click here.

Incentive Zoning applies to commercial developments of more than 30,000 square feet of gross floor area. The provisions apply when a developer seeks: an increase in the density or intensity use, such as increased floor area or height; waiver of parking requirements; changes in dimensional requirements. Special Permits that require compliance with the Incentive Zoning provisions are listed in Section 11.202.1 of the Zoning Ordinance.

Developers with projects that are subject to the Incentive Zoning Ordinance are required to make a Housing Contribution or create affordable housing units. The Housing Contribution is currently $4.58 for every square foot of gross floor area over 2,500 square feet of the portion of the project authorized by the Special Permit. The amount of the Housing Contribution may be adjusted annually by the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust. Payment of the Housing Contribution is required before the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy for developments subject to the Incentive Zoning Ordinance.

In January 2015 CDD completed a new Nexus Study for the Incentive Zoning requirements which recommended changes in the incentive provisions. These recommendations were endorsed by the City Council and have formed the basis for the proposed amendments to the Zoning Ordinance filed in June 2015.

For More Information

For more information including a link to the Nexus Study and the revised petition, please click here, and scroll down to “Incentive Zoning Amendments”.

If you have questions or if you would like additional information on the Incentive Zoning Ordinance, please contact Chris Cotter at 617/349-4634 or