Winning Community and Political Support for an Arts/Science Tower in Kendall Square

The Opportunity

In mid-2019, international life sciences developer BioMed Realty engaged the Belfort Group to build community and political support for its planned 16-story laboratory tower in Kendall Square, Cambridge- a critical hub for the global biotech industry. The project would face heavy scrutiny from development-skeptical residents and elected officials.

The Strategy

BG collaborated with BioMed to introduce a series of public benefits that the project would offer the community. These included 30,000 SF of public space, the relocation of a locally-disliked gas transfer station, and the creation of a new 300-seat performing arts theater, in a nod to promises made for the site prior to its purchase to BioMed. BG then coordinated public communications and private meetings with neighborhood activists, civic and arts groups, and public officials to secure buy-in and support for the overall project design.

The Result

After more than a year of engagement with the community and city government, extensive local and regional media coverage, and dozens of in-person and virtual community meetings, the City Council voted 9-0 to support the rezoning needed for the project. Though unanimous support for large developments is rare in Cambridge, Councilors were impressed with the project’s design, ambition, and public support. BioMed Realty is now pursuing a Special Permit for the project in the hopes of starting construction later in 2021.