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Cambridge joins Boston in issuing coronavirus-related construction moratorium

The city will allow emergency work and construction on permitted one-, two-, and three-families to continue—most other projects are on hold

The side of a building up close from the sidewalk, and there’s construction casing across its windows and a sign that reads “Coming soon.”
A construction project in Cambridge’s Harvard Square in May 2019.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

Cambridge has placed a moratorium on most construction in the city starting March 19. Developers and contractors will have until March 26 to secure their projects for the duration—which, for now, is indefinite.

The city joins Boston in suspending most construction projects in an effort to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Boston became the first U.S. city to issue such a moratorium on March 17. Its ban is in place for at least two weeks.

Like with Boston, there are exceptions to the Cambridge moratorium. It does not cover construction of one-, two-, and three-family houses already permitted. It also does not cover emergency work or work essential for transportation or for safety—or for dealing with the coronavirus, including the construction of temporary shelters or health care facilities.

The full order can be read here. It and Boston’s come as a years-long, historic building boom in the wider region, which added tens of thousands of condos and apartments and millions of square feet of commercial space, appears to wind down. It already seemed the case at the start of 2020, if building permits were any guide, but the coronavirus has certainly accelerated the slowdown.

Projects already underway are expected to pick up after any moratoriums, but new ones will face a different financing reality and a different marketplace.