Image courtesy of Rafi Properites

Developer Rafi Properties is back with a new proposal for a tech campus near Somerville’s Union Square, reducing building heights and parking while seeking to prevent displacement of the cultural economy.

The new rezoning proposal expands affordable recording and rehearsal space and live performance venues, Rafi Properties announced Monday. The Boston-based developer also added a 100-unit residential building to the mixed-use project and slashed its parking count by 40 percent.

In December, Rafi Properties withdrew its original rezoning proposal for 23 properties outside Union Square enabling the redevelopment of up to 1.9 million square feet of office, lab and R&D space. The existing Somernova campus comprises a group of industrial buildings leased to tenants including clean energy incubator Greentown Labs, The Engine by MIT “tough tech” accelerator, makerspaces and Aeronaut Brewing.

The campus would enable growth of emerging economic sectors, including space for startups  to expand as they lease dedicated R&D space, according to Rafi Properties.

“The campus has evolved into one of the region’s hottest clusters for rapidly growing early-stage and venture-backed climate and tough tech companies. These companies want to be here because the talent is here,” Rafi Properties wrote in a presentation accompanying the zoning petition.

Some residents objected to the original rezoning proposal allowing building heights up to 245, prompting Rafi Properties to withdraw its petition before the City Council began its formal review.

The new version responds to public comment by reducing maximum building heights from 245 to 185 feet, or approximately 18 stories, and the maximum potential buildout from 1.9 million to 1.6 million square feet. The amount of R&D space, the largest component of the project, was reduced from 1.1 million square feet to 690,000 square feet.

Parking spaces are reduced from 1,250 spaces to 748, and the developer pledged to leave room in one building for a future MBTA station. The site backs onto the transit agency’s Fitchburg Line commuter rail tracks.

After discussions with local artist groups, the developer is proposing 65,000 square feet of arts and cultural enterprise spaces, including 25,000 square feet of affordable music-related space and 7,800 square feet of affordable arts space at 24 Dane St.

Somernova Returns with Housing, Arts Space in 1.6M SF Plan

by Steve Adams time to read: 1 min