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M.I.T.’s Volpe Center redevelopment takes major step forward

1,400 housing units

The Cambridge City Council has approved M.I.T.’s petition to rezone the Volpe transportation hub that the university bought from the federal government earlier this year for $750 million.

The Kendall Square location is considered one of the nation’s choicest development sites and M.I.T. is dreaming big there. Current plans, per the university, include:

  • approximately 1.7 million square feet of commercial space, including retail
  • around 1,400 housing units, representing 40 percent of the development and including 280 permanently subsidized affordable units and 20 middle-income units
  • a minimum of 5 percent innovation space for entrepreneurship and incubator activity
  • approximately 2.5 acres of open space on the M.I.T.-owned land, which is a minimum of 25 percent of the site (4 acres of the 14-acre site will include a revamped transportation center)
  • buildings as high as 500 feet, which would mean the site would host Cambridge’s tallest building
An aerial view of a large park plaza with trees. There is a path adjacent to the plaza with people. There are building surrounding the park and path. Rendering via Elkus Manfredi

M.I.T. still needs the requisite permits to build so big on the Volpe site—but the City Council’s imprimatur means the school can build so big.

It should be noted that the approval came only after M.I.T. sweetened the pot with community incentives such as the aforementioned affordable housing.

The university will also build a community path on its property along the Grand Junction railroad corridor and an on-site community center. M.I.T., too, has committed to financially supporting arts and community programs in Kendall Square.

Stay tuned. This is one of the biggest projects in the region.