Friday, December 21, 2012

Harvard expansion destabilizing the Allston Brighton section of Boston?

1. Background.
2. Allston Brighton Community Corporation concerns.

1. Background.

Boston has two neighborhoods bordering on the Charles River which are far less exclusive than the much more renown Back Back and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. The Allston neighborhood is directly across the Charles River and slightly west of Magazine Beach. The Brighton neighborhood is adjacent to and west of Allston.

As far as connections to the Charles River go, they are pretty much indistinguishable. The borderline is Everett Street. Everett Street is the eastern boundary of the destroyed shopping center I reported on yesterday in my report on Harvard expansion, at

The reality is that the distinction between the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods on the Charles River is more historical than realistic. The construction of the Massachusetts Turnpike / Interstate 90 has created a very real separation of the Charles River portion of the neighborhoods from the larger, more landlocked areas. There really are now three neighborhoods.

The Allston Brighton Community Corporation has been in existence for quite a bit of time now. It has organized around open space and housing.

The Allston Brighton Community Corporation has distributed an email letter of concern on housing impacts. This report of problems looks to me like possibly recognizing the impact of Harvard’s empire building.

The report does not distinguish exactly where in the neighborhoods they are talking about. The primary part of Allston is a very major and very dense student enclave based on Boston University. The primary part of Brighton shares with Brookline a rather significant student enclave based on Boston College, with its own dense areas. The Charles River portion has been sleepy with a significant but not overwhelming student presence. A very significant portion of Brighton north of the Boston College enclave has the appearance of residential rather than student housing. Its use is like the Charles River portion but much nicer.

I lived in the Charles River section during my first semester at Boston University School of Law and commuted to BU Law on bike using Memorial Drive and the BU Bridge. I performed in a movie shoot in November 2012 about two blocks from my former home. These locations are less than a mile from Harvard Square and are directly impacted by Harvard’s empire building.

My personal opinion is that I would much rather see housing expansion instead of Harvard expansion in the area targeted by Harvard for Harvard expansion. There is another, major area I consider much more appropriate for Harvard expansion.

2. Allston Brighton Community Corporation concerns.

The Allston Brighton Community Corporation report starts:


Without swift action, we are at risk of losing our community.

The Allston Brighton real estate market favors cash-ready absentee investors over community-based owners.

In 2012, approximately 75% of all residential home sales in Allston Brighton were to absentee investors, not to people who will put down roots in our community. Half of all sales were 100% cash deals, transacted quickly and without warning.

Now that we’ve unearthed this data, the Allston Brighton CDC is devising solutions to increase neighborhood stability and we need your help to enact them.


Details may be obtained at:

Allston Brighton CDC
20 Linden Street, Suite 288
Allston, MA 02134

T. 617-787-3874
F. 617-787-0425