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In Kendall Square, M.I.T. Rips from Harvard's Allston Playbook

Across the Charles River from its ancient home, Harvard is building what it calls an "enterprise research campus," a 36-acre unfolding of as many as 12 commercial and academic buildings designed to entice private companies to the university. It's also meant, however implicitly, to turn the Allston area into a live-work hub for people in Harvard's orbit (and that's a lot of people). Now, back in Cambridge, M.I.T. hopes to replicate that approach with its big-time development in Kendall Square. To wit, per Jay Fitzgerald in The Globe:

· The institute plans to spend $700 million to redevelop eight of its properties in Kendall Square to add 1.1 million square feet of new space, mostly along the lower Main Street corridor near the Red Line station.
· The redone buildings, valued at $2 billion, are supposed to attract some of Big Pharma's biggest names.
· They also gel with other major development going on in the Kendall Square area, including the 1.7 million-square-foot, $500 million Alexandria Center, a mixed-use project that we speculated could turn the area into a sort of M.I.T. East.

All good, right? M.I.T.'s redevelopment will add jobs, spiff up what Fitzgerald nimbly called "something of an urban desert," and mesh well with other construction already under way.

Some residents, though, say M.I.T.'s vision of a truly live-work Kendall Square will fall far short if the institute doesn't boost the amount of housing it has planned. Right now, calls for 120 housing units—that's a recipe, the residents say, for a commuter community.

“We don’t want a 9-to-5 Kendall Square,’’ said Barbara Broussard, president of the East Cambridge Planning Team, a community group. M.I.T., she argued, is too focused on commercial development rather than on building a true mixed-used neighborhood with bustling shops and housing. “We’re very opposed to the idea as it is now,’’ she said. “They’re not giving anything to the community.’’

Cambridge officials, for their part, are pressing M.I.T. to build significantly more than the 120,000 square feet of housing it has planned for a lot next to One Broadway. The institute says it's receptive to more housing, as well as to what one executive called "funky retail." M.I.T. will submit a revised plan to the city in about a month, and construction on the first buildings could be finished by 2014.

M.I.T.'s Kendall Square will happen, don't you worry. Harvard's Allston did.

· M.I.T. Injecting Life Into Kendall Square [Globe]
· New Kendall Square Giant Pulling M.I.T. Braintrust East [Curbed Boston]


Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

Kendall Square

Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA