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Here's an idea: Levy a fee on developers for T improvements

The Globe reports Cambridge is looking at adding a fee for developers looking to build in Kendall Square for a new transportation-improvement fund.

Developers of some large projects have stepped up (think New Balance with its Brighton commuter-rail stop and Harvard with its Allston commuter-rail stop), but this would apply to smaller developments as well.

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In the past when developers have offered to pay for new/renovated/reopened MBTA head houses the answer has been "no". The new Millennium Residences over Chinatown Station and that concrete box that destroyed the Gaiety Theater come to mind.

Why the Filene's tower project was not required to renovate Downtown Crossing station to not look, feel temperature wise, and smell like the worst of the 1970s boggles the mind.

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DTX is a daily hell, and I think these are valuable to investigate, but also not a silver bullet. Right from the article:

Cambridge, for example, already has a $10-per-square-foot fee on large commercial developments to fund community initiatives, including local transit works.

While business groups support better transit, Lee said, Cambridge risks making Kendall Square too expensive with fees and demands on real estate owners. “There is this 20-item list of things [developers] are being asked for,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is thinking about all of that holistically.”

Those costs are going to be passed directly to residents living in the new stuff, meaning they definitely won’t help with housing prices in the area, and what is Cambridge doing with the current funds? Stuff to think about.

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Downtown Crossing business owners are already required - by law - to pay a tax to the Downtown Business Improvement District.

This was supposed to clean the place up.

Regarding adding the tax to what developers are required to pay in linkage funds and to the city's IDP?

Sure, that makes sense.

How much should each developer make that check out to so it covers the $3-billion Green Line extension?

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I'm interested to know if you think the Downtown Business Improvement District tax has worked? I know people talk about how bad DTX was at some point but I don't know the timeline.

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There should be specific, prioritized projects that developers can pick and choose from to gain concessions on zoning. Points should be assigned to projects and variances.

"From the EIR, it looks like your new apartment building will negatively impact X and deviate from the zoning by Y. You'll need to offset that by Z points. Here's a list of projects."

End the vague, corruption-prone approval / concession process that can either take years or weeks, depending on who likes you in City Hall. Replace it with something more straightforward and accountable.

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Seem to remember reading that Japanese developers are on the hook for expanding transit through their projects.

Also, didn't the Pre-MBTA B-Line rails expand mainly on the back of developers that were building streetcar networks to sweeten their projects?

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I know down there there are acres of shiny new developments serviced by crappy rural roads because people have moved there for the cheap cost of living, only to later realize that their fellow carpetbaggers don't want to pay for schools, roads, or really any public infrastructure.

I think this is a better approach.

Roslindale Main Streets should have made Petco Unleashed buy a DMU for the Needham line.

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Roslindale Main Streets should start an advocacy team for and OL expansion so maybe we can get a station in the next twenty years.

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I'm pretty sure that this is how London financed the Docklands Light Rail.

All cities should do this. And, sure, some companies will move out to east bumbledywherever to avoid this levy, but then good luck attracting talent.

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roadway improvements are funded these days. It's along the lines of "Your development will impact traffic. So you are required to provide a traffic signal as part of your site plan".

Expanding this concept to requiring certain MBTA improvements as part of development is the logical next step. Provided, of course, that there are enough controls in place so that a developer isn't forced to accept every NIMBY whim as a condition of construction.

The way to make it work, and to avoid the MBTA saying "No", is to get transit improvements written into the MEPA regulations for private development projects. This would establish the base requirements, but keep some control over the process.

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I support this tax for improvements scheme. It charges the new residents for the improvements needed to support the increased occupancy.

From my soapbox, if I were governor I would push to pass a law that states that when a road is being rebuilt the adjacent utilities must be moved underground. It would take years to get all the improvements complete but the result would be beneficial.

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Isn't this happening with that new building going over the pike by the Hynes? They're going to renovate the Hynes station as part of the project, right?

Anyway, this seems like a great idea. They're building in that area so their tenants/residents/whatever can take advantage of the transit, they're (usually) getting parking variances approved because they're on transit, they should be required to help upkeep the transit they're going to be putting further strain on.

My only worry is how they're going to force the MBTA to accept the funds.

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This should be applied to Downtown developments to pay for the Big Dig overruns that were dumped on the MBTA by Gov Baker. How about 128 and 16 expansions being paid for not by all of us, but by developments along there. How about all those defunct bridges across the state being paid for by companies that are located near them or developments near them.

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Maybe next time, vote to increase the gas tax.

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