View Full Version : Cambridge's Kendall Square Seeks to Improve Its Brand

04-07-2010, 04:40 PM
Cambridge's Kendall Square Seeks to Improve Its Brand

By Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Herald

Apr. 5--Some of Cambridge's largest institutions are throwing their weight behind an effort to promote innovation in Kendall Square by creating a more hip neighborhood for nerds, and non-nerds.

Chief executives from Genzyme Corp., Boston Properties, Legal Seafoods and the Broad Institute met last month at the home of Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield to go over a new "innovation center" study by the Boston Consulting Group and to kick around ideas on how to improve Kendall Square and beef up its brand.

Meanwhile, the MIT Sloan School of Management's "Marketing Lab" is poised to start a new survey of all existing retail establishments in Kendall Square -- and identify potential sites for other retailers in a neighborhood long known for its bland, all-work-and-no-play atmosphere.

The efforts are being coordinated by the recently formed Kendall Square Association, a group of residents, business owners, nonprofit leaders and city officials determined to create a new and improved Kendall Square.

"We're getting together and saying, 'What can we do?' " said Tim Rowe, president of the association and chief executive of the Cambridge Innovation Center.

The Boston Consulting Group's survey, commissioned by the association, shows that Kendall Square is, per square mile, the most economically and scientifically "innovative" place in the world, as measured by new start-ups, venture-capital investments and research labs, said Rowe.

But to attract and keep top-notch scientists and executives from around the world, Kendall Square also needs to be, well, less drab, Rowe said.

"They want places to hang out," said Rowe of future Kendall Square workers and residents. "That's what we mean about needing more 'vitality.' It's got to be more than just a set of business buildings."

Kendall Square has already seen huge improvements in recent years, with 1,700 new residential units built in the area and more units on the way, officials say.

New shops, bars, restaurants and an outdoor farmers market have also recently set roots in the Kendall Square area. Last month, the Za and Evoo restaurants flung open their doors on Third Street.

"Business has been great," said Steve Kurland, co-owner of the two establishments.

But he noted there's empty retail space nearby -- and the area could use a little more zip.

That's where the Kendall Square Association comes in.

The association has established six working committees to study everything from infrastructure needs (such as sidewalk repairs and decorative street lighting) to marketing and promoting the square.

"There are so many things we can do," said Sarah Gallop, co-director of MIT's government and community relations office and a director of the Kendall Square Association.

If Kendall Square is going to thrive and stay competitive with other "innovation centers" around the world, it'll need more restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, dry cleaners, pharmacies and other retail establishments, she said.

"Everyone is working very hard," Gallop said.
To see more of the Boston Herald or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.bostonherald.com.
Copyright (c) 2010, Boston Herald
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

Linked from Architect Magazine (http://www.architectmagazine.com/associations/cambridges-kendall-square-seeks-to-improve-its-brand.aspx)

04-07-2010, 05:02 PM
The should restore the Broad Canal a bit, up to Ames St/6th St, starting with the removal of that ugly ass US DOT facility.

Ron Newman
04-07-2010, 05:18 PM
Get rid of the useless Fidelity Investments office and turn it back into a drugstore like it once was. Even a chain like CVS will do. Right now the nearest drugstore is all the way up in Central Square.

04-07-2010, 07:24 PM
Second Life kiosks on every corner.

Anonymous pocket protector exchange clinics.

A scale replica of the USS Starship Enterprise.


04-07-2010, 08:11 PM
A scale replica of the USS Starship Enterprise.

Ah, but which one? I'd go with 1701-D.

04-08-2010, 08:55 AM
Oh, no, first this happens, the next thing you know they're complaining about heights and shadows ...

04-08-2010, 12:19 PM
I allways thought Fidelity would be a good spot for a bar. I think in that building there is already a convenient store. I'd like to see a 35 story tower in Kendall too, it would really solidify Cambridge's skyline.

04-08-2010, 01:19 PM
Tear down that federal building (is it still owned by the feds?) and redevelop that superblock with thru streets.

Ron Newman
04-08-2010, 05:18 PM
Nope, no convenience store in that building, just a post office, an Au Bon Pain, and a Bank of America branch.

04-08-2010, 06:43 PM
"Meanwhile, the MIT Sloan School of Management's "Marketing Lab" is poised to start a new survey of all existing retail establishments in Kendall Square -"

How long does it take to find all 5?

05-04-2010, 07:25 PM
Step 1: Dispense with all the marketing-speak & pointless studies. They are the biggest con hack architects and planners have ever put over on clients ever for pretty, yet usually useless drawings.
Step 2: Draw something from experience which can be constructed from those documents, because that's an architect's or planner's job to do so using their supposedly institutional/trade centric skills.
Step 3: Build it! BUILD IT! BUILD IT!
Step 4: The users of the place create or realize a(n intentionally fostered) series of social constructs to define it.
Step 5: Profit

06-10-2010, 09:31 AM
Globe, my towns, Cambridge:


Veto stymies councillor looking into developer?s Kendall promises
By Marc Levy
Published: June 8, 2010

A policy order by city councillor Leland Cheung affecting development in Cambridge?s Kendall Square failed Monday because of a ?charter right? veto. (Photo: Liv Rachelle Gold)
City councillor Leland Cheung hoped to hear Wednesday about the chances of getting housing, low-cost office and lab space for entrepreneurs and public amenities such as a grocery store and public art for Kendall Square.

But he was blocked Monday at a council meeting by Mayor David Maher, who invoked his councillor?s ?charter right? to veto the proposed policy order until the council gathers again ? Monday, well after the Ordinance Committee meeting in which Cheung hoped to explore the issues.

?This is absolutely the wrong place to bring this forward,? Maher said before announcing his veto.

Cheung?s request of the city manager had already survived an amendment by Sam Seidel to move it to the committee itself, meaning that instead of hearing an answer back on Cheung?s questions, the committee would discuss whether to ask the questions in the first place. Seidel said Cheung?s questions seemed ?precipitous? because there was ?a lot of conversation that could still be had,? and said after his amendment failed 6-3 that ?we have four very substantive requests that need to be processed by Wednesday at 5 p.m. We never operate on this calendar. The shortest turnaround time typically is Monday to Monday. Zoning matters typically take weeks.?

Those voting to put off the request were Maher, Seidel and Tim Toomey. Seidel and Toomey are co-chairmen of the Ordinance Committee.

Toomey ? who called the proposed policy order ?a waste of space at this location? ? suggested the council meeting be paused for an impromptu meeting of the committee, but Maher ended the discussion with his veto.

?We keep letting them off the hook?

Cheung?s proposal was directed at the developer Boston Properties, which is asking to enlarge a project beyond what city zoning ordinances allow. The project could host an expanded Broad Institute, a base for genomic research founded in 2004 in collaboration with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is now spread throughout more than three Kendall Square buildings, including 5 and 7 Cambridge Center and 320 Charles St.

Boston Properties had agreed as part of a project to build Kendall Square housing, but has not, and Cheung?s policy order hoped to ask the city manager ? possibly in return for letting the company build bigger than it first proposed ? to enforce the agreement.

There are ?promises of housing that haven?t been followed through on. We keep letting them off the hook, and we?re the ones who suffer because of it,? Cheung said of developers.

He also wanted ?a nonbinding review of the Broad expansion at the Planning Board at the appropriate juncture? and

a draft letter of agreement which can be set forth as a proposal to the landlord and anticipated tenant, designating a portion of the building to hosting an ?incubator? of low-cost lab space for upstart local entrepreneurs to work from, and setting aside an investment in public art at the location. ? [Also, a report] on whether the ground floor retail proposed by Boston Properties would be of the size and nature suitable for a grocery store, convenience store or small foodstuffs boutique.

Comments from some during debate suggested Cheung?s proposal was misunderstood and his explanations went unheard. (This is not the first time proposals by Cheung have encountered resistance as a result of misunderstandings.)

Ken Reeves warned that placing a grocery store was ?more of an art than a science? and that it would be bad to ?send a message that we want to look at a food store above all else,? for instance, but Cheung?s language asks only to see if Boston Properties? proposed ground-floor retail space was able to accommodate a grocery store. Reeves worried such demands could scare off the Broad Institute, which ?surely most any other place in the world would love to have,? a concern amplified by Toomey noting:

?I?m hoping we?re not going to try to discourage development in this area ? other communities are rolling out the red carpet to get this kind of development. I would just caution how we move forward and approach this.?

Cheung assured his fellow councillors he?d spoken with leaders at the institute ?and nothing here is alarming to them.? And he said twice he?d talked with the city solicitor and with City Manager Robert W. Healy Jr. last week about his requests ?and there was no red flags raised about the turnaround time.?

Mixed use and smart development

Other councillors seemed supportive of his policy order, including Vice Mayor Henrietta Davis, who repeated longstanding criticisms that Kendall Square is lively during the workweek and largely dead at other times, a result of having fewer residents and public resources than other parts of the city.

Asked for comment Tuesday, Cheung said in an e-mail that ?I support local businesses, nonprofits and smart development, but I?m not afraid to hold developers accountable to the promises they make to the community.?

?Roughly 2.6 million of the 2.7 million square feet set aside in the original zoning have been built out. The original intent of the zoning was for mixed use ? housing and commercial in the same district, knitting together the square. That?s not what we?ve gotten and now we?re at the last of the space. Promises have been made to the council that have not been kept.

?Some of my colleague felt I was moving too fast; that I wasn?t following the established process. I worry that that?s the very process that got us the results we?re not satisfied with now. So yes, I am going to think outside the box to fight for the community. I am going to push hard to prevent the council from rubber-stamping a petition made by the developer, for the developer, that doesn?t consider the broader community and economic ecosystem of the area.

?I?m interested in working with Boston Properties to achieve an outcome that makes sense for everyone, including the community.?

?As a credit to my colleagues, the attempt to stop debate on my policy order by sending it to committee was defeated,? he said. ?The order ? which asked developers to consider the community ? failed only because it was charter-righted.?

06-11-2010, 10:50 AM
Globe, my towns, Cambridge:


a draft letter of agreement which can be set forth as a proposal to the landlord and anticipated tenant, designating a portion of the building to hosting an ?incubator? of low-cost lab space for upstart local entrepreneurs to work from, and setting aside an investment in public art at the location. ? [Also, a report] on whether the ground floor retail proposed by Boston Properties would be of the size and nature suitable for a grocery store, convenience store or small foodstuffs boutique.

and a day care center..... and a play ground.... and a free health clinic.... and a splashy fountain..... and a cotton candy machine.... and ponies.......and rainbows, who doesn't love rainbows.... and..........................

06-11-2010, 01:35 PM
What the heck are "foodstuffs"???

Ron Newman
06-11-2010, 03:38 PM
This is not from the Globe, it is from Cambridge Day, a local online newspaper. The Globe just links to it from their Your Town Cambridge page.