Cambridge City Officials Say OK to Google Kendall Square Expansion Plans

With a 7-2 vote, the Cambridge City Council finally approved on March 19 Google’s revised expansion plans that would reshape Kendall Square. The decision comes only days after the East Cambridge Planning Team, an independently incorporated neighborhood association that advocates for the community on issues concerning urban planning, commercial and residential development—rejected the search giant’s original plan for lack of housing amenities.

With a 7-2 vote, the Cambridge City Council finally approved on March 19 Google’s revised expansion plans that would reshape Kendall Square. The decision comes only days after the East Cambridge Planning Team, an independently incorporated neighborhood association that advocates for the community on issues concerning urban planning, commercial and residential development—rejected the search giant’s original plan for lack of housing amenities.

According to WickedLocal.Com, Google originally planned to extend its office space from one of its Kendall Square office buildings to another facility located across a public rooftop garden and rent extra office space in a third building within the area. What this original plan lacked was the residential component that would ease the traffic in the neighborhood and offer housing options (now almost completely absent in Kendall Square, except for a hotel) to employees.

The search giant and Boston Properties, a real estate investment trust that owns the three Kendall Square buildings that will be renovated, quickly revised the expansion plans and, according to The Harvard Crimson, will create walkway bridges that will link the facilities so that Google can fully take advantage of the three buildings.

As reported by the Boston Herald, Boston Properties decided to add a much desired 200,000-square-foot apartment building on Ames Street. Boston Properties also intends to use the recently renovated plaza area at One, Two and Three Cambridge Center for a series of outdoor events that would transform the area into a more vibrant community space. Reportedly, the glass bridge between Four and Five Cambridge Center will be 25,000 square feet. Boston Properties will create a similar bridge between Three and Five Cambridge Center and will also include retail space to address community needs. In order to compensate for 18,000 square feet of open space that will be lost in the process, the real estate investment trust pledged to develop a $2 million urban park located between Broadway, Binney Street and Galileo Galilee Way.

Cambridge City Council’s favorable decision comes after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s proposal (seen more like a Plan B) to offer Google office space in the Hub’s Innovation District.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps