A Better Cambridge supports the CambridgeSide redevelopment project that City Council approved in December. With 175,000 square feet of planned residential development, 65 percent of which will be low- or middle-income affordable housing, the project will add much-needed homes to our city. Moreover, it will contribute $7 million to the Affordable Housing Trust.
Our organization recognizes that the changing retail landscape threatened the future of the mall, making redevelopment necessary to save it and retain its diversity of shopping options. Community benefits, such as the revitalization of the First Street corridor, a $9 million contribution to the East End House, and $1.3 million for the East Cambridge Scholarship Fund, further make it a valuable project.
As the project moves forward and permits are issued, the city needs to ensure that the housing component of the project doesn’t trail the commercial piece. The city should also push New England Development to produce as many units of housing as possible.
A Better Cambridge shares concerns that others have expressed regarding displacement pressures additional commercial development will cause in East Cambridge. Although 175,000 square feet of housing will be produced, new high-paid workers in the project's 400,000 square feet of office and lab space will put further upward pressure on area rents and home prices.
To prevent the displacement of long-time residents and accommodate and welcome new workers who want to live in Cambridge, the City should loosen zoning restrictions that stifle the building of new homes, while also increasing linkage fees and taking other steps to incentivize housing production. Tenant protections must also be put in place to mitigate the impact of this development.