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Investing in Our Community

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Cambridge's commitment to investing in infrastructure such as schools and municipal buildings (including Cambridge fire stations) that provide community services and programs, has been important priority for the City administration over the past few years. Below are some highlights for FY22:

Construction of the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools complex at 197 Vassal Lane kicked off in December 2021. Designed as a Net Zero Emissions facility, the complex will house Tobin Montessori School, Vassal Lane Upper Schools, new preschool and after school programs, including Special Start preschool program for students with disabilities. The project also includes construction of a 1.5-million-gallon underground storm water tank on-site to mitigate street flooding in the neighborhood, open space enhancements, and reconstruction of Father Callanan Park. This project was the third, along with the Martin Luther King Jr. and Putnam Avenue Upper School and the King Open and Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex, that were part of a $500 million investment in three new school facilities.

Firehouse Renovation Update
A multi-year $72 million renovation of Cambridge’s 8 fire stations is ongoing. Renovation of the Taylor Square fire house was completed. Engine 9 was scheduled to reoccupy the renovated firehouse at 167 Lexington Avenue in June 2022. Renovation work at Engine 6 firehouse at 176 River Street is nearing completion. The total reconstruction of Fire Headquarters is in the design phase.

Renovated Foundry Building to Reopen in Fall 2022 as Center for Creativity and Collaboration
A $45.5 million transformation of the historic Foundry Building at 101 Rogers Street is nearing completion and is expected to open this fall. The building, originally constructed as an iron foundry in 1889, is an adaptive reuse project that will reopen as a self-sustaining center for creativity and collaboration for the Cambridge community. At the intersection of the Kendall Square Innovation District and the East Cambridge neighborhood, the Foundry will provide space and programs for visual and performing arts, entrepreneurship, technology, and workforce education. The Foundry will also help facilitate access for residents, especially underrepresented communities and adjacent neighborhoods, to the dynamic working and learning environment of Kendall Square.

Broadband Initiative
The City launched a 21st Century Broadband initiative and hired nationally known CTC Technology & Energy (CTC) to conduct a yearlong feasibility study to help the City achieve its digital equity, connectivity, and Municipal Broadband goals. CTC is conducting a baseline analysis; performing technical analysis and design; performing market analysis, financial analysis, developing business and City-ownership models; conducting stakeholder engagement; and generating a comprehensive report. This initiative is one of the identified strategies from the 2021 Digital Equity in Cambridge Report. This City-commissioned report outlines the research findings from a comprehensive study examining digital equity gaps in our community, including broadband access, affordability, digital skills, and device ownership, and is serving as a roadmap for the City’s digital equity initiatives.

Preservation Grants
Cambridge Historical Commission (CHC) awarded over $401,000 in Institutional Preservation Grants to eight non-profit organizations to assist with exterior restoration, including needed repairs to their significant buildings. CHC also awarded four historic Preservation Grants totaling $225,000 to local affordable housing agencies and income-eligible homeowners to assist with exterior property restoration.

Updates on Projects Subject to Rezoning and Subsequent Commitments for Public Benefits:

  • MIT Kendall Square Development. Four out of six buildings are built or nearing completion, including 300 units of housing, in this transformative project blending academic, commercial, residential, cultural, and retail uses. Commitments to date include funding for a portion of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path (completed in 2016), nearly $6 million in contributions to the Community Benefits Fund, and conveyance of 35 Cherry Street to the City.

  • 325 Binney Street (Alexandria Real Estate). Construction is underway on this new highly sustainable office/lab building, which has been announced as the future home of Moderna. Commitments include land and funding for another portion of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path (in design) and future conveyance of a parcel on Fulkerson Street for City use, if acquired from Eversource. 

  • CambridgeSide Redevelopment (New England Development). Construction is underway on three new commercial buildings and about 160 units of mixed-income housing attached to the retail mall, which will be preserved. Commitments include $9 million for the East End House ($4 million contributed to date) and space and programs to support non-profits, local retailers, and artists.

  • MIT Volpe Parcel Redevelopment. The Planning Board approved the plan to redevelop this major site in Kendall Square, which will transform it into an active district with a mix of commercial and residential buildings, about 1,400 units of housing (around 300 affordable), ground-level retail and entertainment, over two acres of public open space, and a community center. Commitments include a large section of the Grand Junction Multiuse Path (in design), 950 new graduate student beds (all completed or in construction), a community job connector (currently operating), and community events and arts programming.

  • Kendall Center Development (Boston Properties). The Planning Board approved the plan and designs for two new commercial buildings and a 445-unit residential building. This project has committed to host a below-grade electrical transformer substation, with public open space on top, which will allow the City to acquire the Eversource parcel described above.

  • 585 Third Street (Biomed Realty). The Planning Board approved this plan for a new commercial building that will include an Arts and Culture Center and indoor/outdoor public space. Commitments include $2 million for the Margaret Fuller House.


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