CAMBRIDGE HAS been the scene of a bitter development civil war in recent months. A conversation about how to best reshape the city veered sharply into the ditch, and became a serious debate over whether residents should stonewall nearly all future development. Given the recent history, it’s notable that major efforts to remake Central Square and Kendall Square are moving ahead at all. But the Cambridge development plans, which were both advanced last week, really matter not for what they propose to build, but how they propose to build. Both plans hinge on giving incentives to desirable developments, and on converting stagnant parking lots into active buildings that advance broader benefits.
Last week, MIT re-launched a major bid to rezone its Kendall Square holdings, while a citizens’ task force came down strongly in favor of opening up development opportunities in Central Square. Both efforts will leverage private investments to improve shared civic spaces. And both make conscious efforts to build progressive neighborhoods that elevate people over cars.