Monday, March 05, 2012

Harvard’s public position on Allston expansion

Harvard’s empire building in Boston’s Allston neighborhood is directly relevant to the Charles River because its activities are only a few hundred feet from the Charles and because it is involved in many attacks on the Charles directly supporting its activities in Allston, whether obvious or hidden behind the almost non stopping con games.

The following is taken from page 33 and the top of page 34 of a document entitled “Harvard University’s Town Gown Report 2011." It was submitted to the Cambridge Planning Board in a meeting in February 2012 which received such reports from Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge College. My memory is that there was a document describing this report as actually submitted in late (December?) 2011. I do not see that document now.


C. Other Planning Priorities.

Allston Planning.

In the summer of 2011, the Harvard Allston Work Team presented the University with the following set of five recommendations for proposed next steps in Allston.

● Resume planning and development of the Western Avenue foundation (science site) [Ed: this is on the southern side of Western Avenue across from the Charlesview (subsidized) Housing and north or east of North Harvard Street] as an innovative, interdisciplinary health and life science center [ed: fits exactly in with the clear plans to move the Harvard Medical School to the rail yard / I90 exit which Harvard owns and which is further to the east on the other side of Cambridge Street].

● Develop an enterprise research campus in Allston Landing North, creating a gateway to a collaborative community for business, investment capital, research and science Development

[Ed: "Allston Landing North" confuses me and I have not been able to get a straight answer. Is this the rail yard / I90 exit? Is this further west on Western Avenue between Western Avenue and Soldiers Field Road? Is this on Lincoln Street which parallels Western Avenue, abuts the I90, between Everett Street and Market Street, a few blocks south of the destroyed Western Avenue Shopping Center? Is this the shopping center at Cambridge Street and North Harvard across east of the Hess Station? Is it the triangle created by Brighton Avenue, Cambridge Street and Harvard Avenue / Street?]

● Enhance the vibrancy of Barry’s Corner through housing and other amenities [ed: this is Western Avenue and North Harvard Street where Harvard is in the process of destroying the Charlesview housing.]

● Enable academic growth by preserving land adjacent to the existing campus, consistent with past planning

● Explore the feasibility of a conference center and hotel to accommodate the academic and research sector

These recommendations were endorsed by the President and the Harvard Corporation in September, and initial implementation is expected in two distinct but related phases of work.

Phase one includes three major components:

● Moving ahead on a Health and Life Science Center of the Western Avenue foundation, driven by academic planning under the leadership of the Provost. As a program of specific health, life and interdisciplinary science research uses is identified, the building plan will be evaluated and re-programmed to ensure the optimization of science and research space.

● Planning for a new residential commons and retail center in the Barry’s Corner area. Rental housing for Harvard graduate students, visiting scholars, faculty members and others will be combined with retail facilities and amenities for the entire neighborhood. After soliciting ideas and feedback from the community to inform planning for Barry’s Corner, the University plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) for third-party development partners to plan, build and manage the residential commons and retail center. Depending on the pace of the design and permitting processes, construction could begin in 2013.

● This phase will also include site assessment and academic planning for the current Charlesview Apartments site along Western Avenue and North Harvard Street. As soon as the new Charlesview Residences are occupied As soon as the new Charlesview Residences are occupied, and prior to demolition at the existing site, Harvard will provide an update on the site assessment, academic planning and timeline.

[Ed: former Western Avenue Shopping Center west of Barry’s corner most of which was landbanked by Harvard in its successful pressure on the owner of Charlesview Housing to vacate Barry’s Corner. The former retail mall has been destroyed and is now an extremely large construction site. The super market has been returned to its original name of Star Market from Shaw’s and an addition to which I believe Shaw’s expanded has been demolished. The McDonald’s has been rebuilt to the east of the construction zone. The retail building at Western and Everett has been untouched. So the formerly vibrant shopping center has been drastically reduced in size.]

Phase two will focus on Allston Landing North and include the identification of appropriate development partners to assist in planning and developing an Enterprise Research Campus, which could potentially include a hotel and conference center. The Enterprise Research Campus is intended to serve as a gateway to a collaborative community for business, investment capital, and research and science development. This activity will be explored in tandem with phase one, but with longer-term objectives and timeframes.

[Ed.: such “collaborative” development is commonly done on long term rentals. The renter creates and uses buildings on Harvard property which then become a part of the Harvard campus without Harvard having to pay for building the buildings. Many buildings in Cambridge have been built for MIT in this manner. Allston Landing North could very likely be the current I90 exit / rail yard and future Harvard Medical School, but I have gotten such conflicting explanations for “Allston Landing North”.]

Harvard anticipates that the planning efforts associated with these two phases will result in a new institutional Master Plan Notification Form (IMPNF) submission by the end of 2012, a process which will include a series of conversations with the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the community that will ultimately lead to a new Institutional Master Plan for Harvard in Allston.