Exciting news about the Kendall Square neighborhood and our future

January 18, 2017

To the members of the MIT community:
Last November, the federal government announced its plans to work with MIT to negotiate an “exchange” that would give us the right to own and develop a multi-acre site in the heart of Kendall Square: The Volpe parcel. Today, we signed the exchange agreement.
You can explore the details in the MIT News story and a 3Q with Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz.
With the contract finalized, I'm writing to share my excitement and explain why this initiative is so important for the long-term interests of MIT and of our Cambridge neighbors.
The Volpe site offers an opening that will not come again: 14 acres, mostly underdeveloped, nearly contiguous with our campus and in the thick of Kendall Square. When this parcel became available, it felt obvious to us that we should pursue this unique opportunity to work with the City and our Cambridge neighbors to help shape the future of the Kendall Square neighborhood, so that it would serve both MIT and the broader community.
From the entrepreneurial energy and culture of its hundreds of start-ups, to the research might and market reach of its major corporate players, Kendall Square is a vital source of opportunities, talent and resources to help the people of MIT deliver their ideas to the world. The emerging strengths of this ecosystem already offer powerful advantages to MIT; it is now clear that our future success depends on making sure that Kendall succeeds as a place – a place where people want to live, work and play, and a place that makes our city stronger, too.
It's important to understand that the agreement we signed today will be paid for entirely with MIT's investment funds, just as if it were a purchase of stocks or bonds; MIT's development on the site will serve as a long-term source of funds to support the Institute, just as with any income property MIT might own anywhere.
In effect, the Volpe project is simultaneously a way of generating future financial support for our mission, while enhancing an innovation ecosystem and neighborhood that support that mission, too.
Today's signing marks the latest step in a community-wide process that began four years ago. In that time, city and neighborhood leaders have developed a broad vision for how the Volpe site might be used, and MIT faculty and staff have worked with them closely to understand their priorities and values. As we begin detailed planning for the site, we are confident that we can develop it consistent with the vision that the City and the community outlined, so that Kendall Square can grow into a lively, distinctive neighborhood with an irresistible personality that is welcoming to all.
I am inspired by the possibilities, and I look forward to working with many of you as we work to shape the future of this remarkable place.
L. Rafael Reif