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As Cambridge Builds And Builds, City Seeks Hike In Affordable Housing Fees06:51
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Cambridge City Councilor Denise Simmons is pushing a hike in the city's linkage fees, which go toward an affordable housing trust. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
Cambridge City Councilor Denise Simmons is pushing a hike in the city's linkage fees, which go toward an affordable housing trust. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Construction is all over the area this summer, and one of the major projects is a redevelopment of Kendall Square in Cambridge.

And just this week, MIT announced plans for even more: a $1.2 billion research, business and housing proposal.

MIT Provost Marty Schmidt says the idea is to meet both the needs of the institute and the Kendall Square community.

"This activity is really to strengthen the Kendall ecosystem, create a much greater sense of place and a much greater gateway to the campus and, along the way, add vibrant retail and housing," Schmidt said.

Part of the MIT plan might also involve developing the 14-acre site of the federal Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.

The federal Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
The federal Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

But with the development boom come higher costs, especially for housing. The average rent of an apartment in Cambridge is currently about $2,500 a month.

City officials are taking steps to try to protect affordable housing. The City Council is expected to vote next month on a plan to triple the linkage fees that developers pay -- fees that go toward an affordable housing trust. The plan would raise the fees immediately from $4.58 a square foot to $12.

Denise Simmons, one of the city councilors pushing the hike in linkage fees, said Cambridge's residents should "gain some benefit from [developments'] presence here, their longtime presence in our city. ... We want the innovation, but we also have to live with the innovation."

She said the plan to raise linkage fees wouldn't scare away developers.

Simmons, who spoke with us next to a construction site, added: "What makes Cambridge so special is its diversity, its cultural and its economic diversity. That will not maintain itself without deliberate action."

Click the audio player atop this post for the full conversation with Simmons.

This segment aired on July 31, 2015.

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