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Not Down w/ Downzoning: a Manifesto on Central Square

One of the most heatedly fought development fights is unfolding in Cambridge. It's not over a specific project necessarily, but over the scope and density of parts of the city. In one corner are those who want any new development to be within the current low-rise sphere of much of the rest of the People's Republic; on the other are those who want to build taller and denser to both bring down housing costs and up the demographic diversity. Each corner believes it has God on its side (or, this being Cambridge, each believes it has Nothing on its side). Of course, only one group can win in the end—whenever the end comes at the hands of the current or subsequent city councils.

The last skirmish in the fight erupted over developer Forest City's plans to build a 95-foot commercial building at 300 Mass. Ave. and a 165-foot residential building at Sidney and Green streets. Current zoning allowed for 80 feet, and, after much cacophony, including a virtual Occupy City Council Chambers, those opposed to the taller development won. That has not stopped those on the other side, of course. A group calling itself A Better Cambridge is out with a point-by-point explanation of just why it's opposed to downzoning Central Square (and, we imagine, other major areas of Cambridge). For example:

Downzoning will hurt diversity in Central Square. It restricts our ability to create the types of housing needed by seniors and families with children or multiple generations. Downzoning encourages development of higher-cost housing that does not align with the needs of most Cambridge families. The group also has a petition going against downzoning Central Square. Now more than ever, it's on.

· Scenes From a Cambridge Development Fight [Curbed Boston]

Central Square

Central Square, , MA 02139