Learning more about the Charlesview proposal from the Boston Globe

Harvard University agrees to resident relocation deal - The Boston Globe

"CBT architects of Boston will design the buildings, the tallest of which - closest to the river - is tentatively slated to be 10 floors. Others will range from four to six stories."

On the subject of building height, page 28 of the North Allston Strategic Framework says:

"The Framework addresses height and massing of new buildings to ensure in general the preservation of the traditional character of residential neighborhoods while allowing the kind of significant new development that will bring substantial benefits to North Allston.

Thus, west of North Harvard Street the Framework envisions heights of up to 35' on the southern side of Western Avenue and a mix ofheights on the north side, with further community review of buildings with heights over 45-55' (with an assumed maximum height of 95') and an expectation that these taller buildings would offer substantial public benefits such as additional affordable housing and public space."

So on both sides of the Western Ave it sounds like Charlesview, Harvard, and the BRA have decided that the "envisioned" and "assumed maximum" heights can be exceeded. The NASFP goal to "acknowledge the need for careful transitions in scale, vehicular circulation, and design between existing residential neighborhoods and new development" also seems in jeopardy.

I have no problem with the concept of new housing for Charlesview. The problem is that:

The project seems to have been fully designed without any input from people who live on Litchfield, Holton, and other nearby streets and would be greatly affected by it.

The project is another example of ad-hoc, one project at a time, development in our community. It is another nail in the coffin of the Strategic Framework, which promised a special study of the Holton Street Corridor which was supposed to lead to "a zoning strategy that creates a mix of uses that in turn provide attractive, pedestrian-friendly links through Holton Street between the two residential neighborhoods to the east and

There has been consistent questioning at Harvard Allston Task Force meetings about the fate of this "special study". Here is one relevant excerpt from meeting minutes:

"Harry Mattison raised the topic of special study areas that were mentioned in the NANSP but never done and asked whether the Task Force wanted to pursue the study areas, particularly the Holton St. study. Gerald suggested that he was open to the Task Force’s ideas about what to incorporate into the Holton St. study that would be useful to the Task Force. Ray suggested that until there was something to react to, it didn’t seem fruitful to pursue completing the studies."

Well, now there is certainly something to react to!


  1. Anonymous9:53 PM

    Hey I let everyone know that the Development Committee meeting was on 12/03/07 for the FUTURE OF the Charlesview Apartments. I guess none of you in the coummunity care what happens when you have a 10 story buildings and six and five story buildings in your back yards with high end condos Facing all your homes casting shadows with High winds AND ALL THE CRIME THAT COMES WITH THIS MASSIVE PROJECT.
    Belive me the Charlesview Board does not care for you or anyone elses they are going to do what ever they have TO. They have the approval from the BRA AND THE MAYOR OF BOSTON. They are just like Harvard University they will lie and cheat there way to the top weather you like it or not. There is a 90 day review of the Kmart and Charlesview sites they will be doing enviromentel reviews and impact reports. By the way Charlesview does not come under the Harvard Allston task force rules this will go under another review process within the coummunity. Good Luck to all.

  2. Anonymous11:23 PM

    First -- as always, Harry, thanks for maintaining a great a useful site.

    I have no comment on the above post. Instead, I'd like to address a point that Harry has made in his original post.

    I disagree that the key problem we face with Harvard's project is the lack of a grand overall conception. To me, nothing exemplifies grand overall conception like MIT's Kendall Square, where every brick block was so carefully pre-arranged that they ended up with a sterile wasteland.

    I sort of like the way Harvard, instead, is putting pieces in place one at a time, leaving some flexibility for new projects. For instance, let's say the mixed-use housing really takes off and some new neighbors decide they want to organize a charter school. Or maybe a developer decides this would now be a great neighborhood for some new offices and proposes to put some commercial space into a Harvard building (a la the Zero Arrow Street building). Do we want Harvard to be so locked into some grand scheme that it couldn't accommodate such organic growth?

    Buildings and projects should emerge as the neighborhood develops, not be mandated in advance from on high.

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