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Curbed Boston Awards '12: Meatiest Debate

It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the good, the bad and the ugly in the Hub real estate universe. Yep, it's time for the Second Annual Curbed Boston Awards!

We picked the year's Silliest/Stupidest Feud on Wednesday: the debate over Boston's hipness. Now it's time to pick the meatiest, most consequential debate of the year, and we think it's pretty easy as it has ramifications way beyond its two sides.

The meatiest real estate debate in the Hub in 2012 was over how to develop Cambridge: densely or not so densely. One one side you had (and have, as the issues remain unresolved) NIMBYs, the classic Not In My Backyard sorts opposed to development in general, but especially that development which upends a neighborhood's long-time feel. One the other side you had YIMBYs, a newer term to describe those who want more development and fast.

See, the issues at hand revolve around how to build up already hopping areas like Kendall and Central squares. The Cambridge NIMBYs want smaller-scale developments (if there have to be any new developments at all) and the YIMBYs want denser development; bigger, taller buildings with more units for more people. Just beneath this debate, of course, runs oft-unspoken currents about diversity, about what kind of people are to populate these additional housing units. The debate, then, has turned rancorous at times, even absurd and histrionic (see the above image of a flier put out by a group of NIMBYs).

But the debate matters, and beyond the People's Republic. The entire region is figuring out how to grow real estate-wise, after decades of building what many consider the wrong kind of smaller-scale, spaced-out housing that has exacerbated Greater Boston's dearth of quality lodging. This dearth has sparked an exodus of the young, who are often priced out of the market, and turned parts of the region into glorified retirement communities (no offense to the boomers).

For being passionate and consequential, the brouhaha of how to develop Cambridge wins the 2012 Curbed Boston Award for Meatiest Debate.
· Curbed Boston Awards '12: the Year's Stupidest/Silliest Feud [Curbed Boston]
· NIMBYs and YIMBYs in Cambridge Hone Their Messages [Curbed Boston]
· What We Don't Talk About Re: Cambridge Development [Curbed Boston]
· Scenes From a Cambridge Development Fight [Curbed Boston]
· Why the Hub Housing Market Could Get Worse, Much Worse [Curbed Boston]
· Downtown Boston Is Just One Big Empty Nest [Curbed Boston]

Kendall Square

Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA