About a month ago we took you to the scenes of a vociferous, cantankerous Cambridge development fight—namely, over developer Forest City Ratner's proposals to build a 95-foot commercial building at 300 Mass. Ave. and a 165-foot residential building at at Sidney and Green streets; current zoning allows for 80 feet and opponents basically want to set that in stone for the area (Forest City has so far been stymied in its efforts).
The Globe's Robert Weisman over the weekend covered just how deeply this jones for downzoning runs in the People's Republic, thanks in no small part to the battle in Central Square: "'There's a sense that commercial development, particularly related to these hot bio- and information technology industries, is moving from Kendall Square, up Main Street, and right into Central Square,' said resident Nancy Ryan, who co-chairs a citizens group called the Cambridge Residents Alliance."
Any downzoning targeting commercial development, of course, would run smack into residential development as well, precluding larger-scale apartment buildings in a part of the Hub that desperately needs them (well, basically every part of the Hub desperately needs larger-scale housing development, which is one of the reasons prices/rents are so high here, and young people and families are having trouble moving here/staying here). So, while the alliance fights the perceived evil empire of slightly bigger development on main commercial drags, one reader reminds us of something that's not really talked about much:
You guys are missing the man-bites-dog aspect to this particular tale—the many supporters of diversity and inclusivity who showed up to testify in support of appropriate increases in density along designated corridors. It's fun to snark at Cambridge, and often, we deserve it. But there aren't many places spawning networks of neighborhood activists agitating in favor of greater diversity—and of the heights and densities that will enable it. It's a story worth telling. Build it and they will come. Maybe that's what the downzoning proponents are really worried about.
· Tech, Bio Firms Meet Resistance in Cambridge [Globe]
· Scenes From a Cambridge Development Fight [Curbed Boston]
· Why the Hub Housing Market Could Get Worse, Much Worse [Curbed Boston]