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.

Developers may instead elect to create affordable units or donate land to be used exclusively for the development of affordable housing in the city. Affordable units or land donation must be of equivalent benefit as the Housing Contribution toward addressing the City’s affordable housing needs. A report from the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust which evaluates whether the proposed affordable housing creation conforms to the intent of Section 11.200 of the Zoning Ordinance and identifies any conditions the Trust recommends be included in a Special Permit shall accompany any Special Permit application where the Incentive Zoning Ordinance requirements are to be met through creation of affordable units. Developers considering this option are encouraged to contact CDD.

For More Information

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