CAMBRIDGE — Plans for a new arts space in Kendall Square took a decisive step forward Wednesday as BioMed Realty and Global Arts Live announced they would form 585 Arts, a freshly minted nonprofit to operate and program the facility on Third Street, which will comprise more than 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for public gatherings and performances.
The arts venue, which will be housed in the lower levels of a planned 16-story lab and office building in the Canal District, will include a 300-seat theater, rehearsal studio, flexible meeting rooms, and other indoor and outdoor spaces. The facility is expected to be completed in 2025.
“We felt it was the right thing to do by the community,” said Salvatore Zinno, BioMed Realty’s vice president of development. “I hope people will be able to say it’s one of the things that helped Kendall transition from more of a 9-5, business-centric area to a real neighborhood.”
Global Arts Live board president Nagesh Mahanthappa said the new venue would serve a critical role in the Greater Boston arts ecosystem, which for years has lacked adequate rehearsal and performance spaces for smaller arts organizations. He emphasized that the new venue would be accessible to local groups, saying the facility will accommodate smaller-scale acts, movies, and perhaps gallery shows for visual artists.
“The opening of a new theater in and of itself is a phenomenal addition to the cultural landscape,” said Mahanthappa. “We’ve made a strong commitment that this embedding within the community will be a real and tangible thing.”
Once operational, 585 Arts will be a separate nonprofit charged with programming the theater and surrounding spaces, including other spots in the 10-acre Canal District. Global Arts Live will become the theater’s anchor tenant, presenting at least 100 nights of programming each year. In addition, partners say more than 200 nights a year will be available to other artists and cultural organizations, with a focus on attracting artists and audiences of color.
“Affordability and access have been real issues for arts communities in the Boston area,” said Mahanthappa, who added there would be a sliding scale for rentals. “We are anticipating the theater will be available in the first year for 28 nights for free for appropriate organizations.”
The partnership represents a major expansion for Global Arts Live, a smaller nonprofit that for years has presented international music, dance, and jazz at a variety of venues across Greater Boston. Formerly World Music/CRASHArts, the organization changed its name in 2019 to better reflect its mission.
Mahanthappa said Global Arts Live, whose operating budget he estimated at around $2 million, has committed to raising $15 million to support operations at 585 Arts.
Meanwhile, BioMed Realty has budgeted $40 million for the project, which Zinno said would be “delivered in parallel with the larger building, completely fit out.” The city recently approved rezoning the project site at 585 Third St., currently a gravel lot that houses a gas transfer station.
“We’re going to position it to be a success,” he said. “It’s important to us that whatever we create there is sustainable.”
The Cambridge arts venue is one of a handful of other area real estate projects that are incorporating cultural venues into commercial and residential developments, including new facilities in the Seaport and the Fenway.
Cambridge Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon called the new nonprofit “an important step forward in revitalizing the arts in Cambridge, which have faced tremendous losses in recent years.”
“When I voted to move this project forward, I knew the energy and creativity of the Cambridge arts community could do so much with the opportunity it presented,” she said in a statement. “Choosing Global Arts Live to oversee the formation of 585 Arts as the operator for the space shows a tremendous commitment to local, cultural leadership and bodes well for the future of the space.”