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Zoning change clears the way for CambridgeSide mall’s redevelopment

An artist’s rendering of First Street in Cambridge showing the redeveloped CambridgeSide shopping mall.
An artist’s rendering of First Street in Cambridge showing the redeveloped CambridgeSide shopping mall.Elkus Manfredi

CAMBRIDGE — The City Council on Monday cleared the way for a major redevelopment of the CambridgeSide shopping center into a campus of retail, housing, and office space.

The council voted 6 to 3 to approve new zoning for the mall, which will enable its owner, New England Development, to convert an above-ground garage, a shuttered Sears store, and other areas into housing, offices, and laboratory buildings, while creating more ground-level open space on the massive block.

The zoning allows New England Development to add 575,000 square feet to the complex, in buildings as tall as 155 feet, but requires that 30 percent of that new space be housing, with 65 percent of the housing set at prices that are affordable to lower- and middle-income residents.

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New England Development also pledged $90 million in community benefits, including $9 million in funding for the nearby East End House, a social services agency.

That helped the project win support from a neighborhood group, the East Cambridge Planning Team.

New England Development is already at work converting the mall’s third floor into office space. It said this larger project will help it reposition the property for a future with far less demand for enclosed shopping malls.

A spokeswoman said the developer plans to go before the City Council and neighborhood groups again next year, with more specific designs, to seek the special permits needed for the project.


Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.