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City Manager Letter to City Council re: Google and Boston Properties

City Manager Letter to City Council re: Google and Boston Properties

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Published by Saul Tannenbaum

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Published by: Saul Tannenbaum on Feb 24, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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City Manager Letter
February 27, 2012To the Honorable, the City Council:The City of Cambridge has received a request from Boston Properties Limited Partnership ("Boston Properties") forthe modification of two existing open space restriction covenants on buildings located at Four and Five CambridgeCenter. A copy of Boston Properties' letter describing their request in more detail is attached hereto for yourinformation and is summarized below. Boston Properties has indicated that this request is being made in order toallow for the construction of a new connector building containing approximately 25,000 square feet of gross floorarea between the existing buildings located at Four and Five Cambridge Center. In addition to being located on theFour and Five Cambridge Center properties themselves, a portion of the connector building between Four and FiveCambridge Center would be constructed over the existing garage facility known as the Cambridge Center EastGarage. As is discussed in greater detail in Boston Properties' letter, the construction of this new connector buildingwill require the modification of the two existing open space covenants, resulting in an 18,147 square foot reductionof the public open space created by those covenants, which is part of the open space required in the MXD ZoningDistrict as set forth in Article 14, Section 14.42 of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance. However, the term of thesecovenants, once modified, would be extended for an additional 28 years from the current expiration date of 2022until 2050. In addition, a new 47,000 square foot urban park would be created as part of this process, pursuant to anew open space covenant with a duration of 40 years, for a net gain of 28,853 square feet of public open space in theCambridge Center area.In consideration of the modification of the existing Covenants and the reduction in open space, Boston Properties,together with the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, is proposing the following:1. the extension of the current expiration date for the dedication of the remaining open space on the East Garageroof to the public from August 5, 2022 to August 5, 2050; and2. the creation of a new at-grade urban park on a parcel of land owned by the Cambridge RedevelopmentAuthority at the corner of Binney Street and Galileo Galilee Way adjacent to the "Innovation Boulevard" projectfunded by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which would be dedicated as public open space for aperiod of 40 years by a new open space covenant and which is more than twice the size of the area that is beingimpacted by the modification plan (approximately 47,000 square feet being added by the creation of the new parkversus 18,147 square feet being removed as part of the reconfiguration of the East Garage roof park to accommodatethe connector building).There are currently 133,733 square feet of publicly dedicated open space in Cambridge Center. This plan willincrease the overall amount of publicly dedicated open space to 162,586 square feet (even after taking into accountthe 18,147 square feet that would be removed from the rooftop park on the East Garage), and will add an urban parkas an amenity to the project area that will be easily accessible to the neighborhoods surrounding Cambridge Center.
Request for Approval to Modify Existing Covenants
The Four Cambridge Center Covenant provides that it may be modified by a majority vote of the City Council withthe approval of the grantor and the ground lessee of the East Garage. The East Garage Covenant similarly providesthat it may be modified by a majority vote of the City Council with the approval of the grantor and the ground lesseeof the East Garage. Boston Properties has requested that these proposed modifications to the two existing Covenantsand the proposed new open space covenant be presented to the City Council for approval. For reasons stated herein,I recommend that the City Council approve the modifications and the new covenant as proposed or in such mannerand at such time as I reasonably determine is necessary or advisable.
Request for Disposition under Chapter 2.110
In addition, because the requested modifications to the existing open space covenants will result in a reduction of theopen space created by those covenants, these modifications are subject to the provisions of Chapter 2.110 of theCambridge Municipal Code. Under Chapter 2.110, which governs the disposition of City-owned property, approvalof this request requires a two-thirds vote of the City Council. I believe the value and public benefit of the extensionof the two existing open space restriction covenants (as modified) for an additional 28 years, the creation of the new47,000 square foot public park together with a new open space covenant with a duration of 40 years are greater thanthe value and public benefit of the reduction of existing open space areas that is proposed. For reasons stated herein,I recommend such approval at this time.
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