Incentive Zoning Ordinance

Second Street

The City's Incentive Zoning provisions of the Zoning Ordinance applies to large non-residential developments. The Incentive Zoning provisions require a Housing Contribution to mitigate the impact of these developments on the need for affordable housing in the city.

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 to any new developments devoted to certain uses outlined in the Zoning Ordinance. New development under Incentive Zoning includes construction of new buildings or additions, substantial rehabilitation to accommodate the uses listed in the Ordinance, and changes in use where the new use is subject to the Incentive Zoning provisions. Section 11.202.1 of the Zoning Ordinance outlines the applicability and compliance requirements for Incentive Zoning.

Developers with projects subject to the Incentive Zoning Ordinance make a Housing Contribution to the Affordable Housing Trust for use by the Trust in its efforts to fund affordable housing in the city. The Housing Contribution is currently $33.34 for every square foot of gross floor area. The Housing Contribution Rate will be increased annually based on the Consumer Price Index. Payment of the Housing Contribution is required before the issuance of Certificates of Occupancy for developments subject to the Incentive Zoning Ordinance. 

The City Council last amended the Incentive Zoning provisions of the Ordinance in March 2020. This amendment followed the completion in December 2019 of the Cambridge Incentive Zoning and Nexus and Jobs Linkage Study. The Study includes a reevaluation of the impact of new non-residential development and affordable housing needs. Click here to read the 2019 Nexus Study.  

For More Information

If you have questions or if you would like additional information on the Incentive Zoning Ordinance, please contact Linda Prosnitz at 617/349-4619 or