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Securing a Special Permit for an Arts/Science Tower in Kendall Square

The Opportunity

BioMed Realty, an international life sciences developer that had retained the Belfort Group in winning political and community support for rezoning the site of its proposed 585 Third Street arts/laboratory complex, asked our team to continue its work as the project moved into a new phase. With the rezoning portion complete, attention now turned towards securing a special permit for the proposed landmark in Kendall Square, the technology hub of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Winning a special permit would require engaging with a new political body, the Cambridge Planning Board, as well as demonstrating responsiveness to a host of design and community input requests.

The Strategy

Repurposing the stakeholder engagement strategy that benefitted the rezoning phase, BG enlisted civic, neighborhood, and artistic organizations — both new and old — to support BioMed’s special permit application. Our team worked closely with regional and local media to secure positive coverage of the project in outlets likely to be seen by Planning Board members. We also provided messaging and framing for key hearings with the Planning Board, helping direct a discussion that would ultimately influence the special permit decision.

The Result

After more than a year of positioning the project for success, 585 Third Street won unanimous approval from the Cambridge Planning Board. At the final hearing, an outpouring of community support combined with a carefully crafted message and a drumbeat of positive media coverage led Planning Board members to wholeheartedly endorse the project. After winning the final permit needed to pursue the project, BioMed is now entering the construction phase. 585 Third Street is estimated to be completed in late 2024.

Got a zoning project that you need to get off the ground? Reach out to us today and we can see what we can do for you.
Get in touch: mike@thebelfortgroup.com or 201-615-2218.