Charlesview proposal fails to impress

Based on this story in today's Globe, it seems that the Charlesview proposal has even less support than I might have thought.
Tim McHale - "Harvard has moral and ethical complicity in this. I want them to come back to the table for more land. You just can't shoehorn this in and expect us to be happy."

Paul Berkeley - "It's essentially much higher density, much closer to the neighborhood. The height of the buildings and density are twice as much as what zoning allows."

Dave McNair - "With this project, we will have 500 low-income units just along Everett Street. There will be two separate areas, low-income and Harvard."

Ray Mellone - "It's a good idea to move Charlesview. I'm just not sure this is the best way to handle it."

The developer, "Community Builders, Inc", basically admits that the shortcomings of the project are a result of their failure to negotiate a better agreement with Harvard and a failure to find the financing needed to make a first-rate project. I don't know how they plan to finance the project, and I don't think all the money needs to or should come from Harvard.

On their own website, the Community Builders state proudly that for their Tent City project in South Boston they "secured funding from more than fourteen sources, including tax credit equity investors and the innovative use of an Urban Development Action Grant repayment loan that guaranteed $30 million over 30 years would flow from nearby Copley Place into Tent City." From how many sources have they secured funding for Charlesview?

Or here are two examples from projects in Connecticut:
- a $26 million Federal HOPE VI grant was used to leverage an additional $80 million in state, local and private funds for the Southwood Square project
- a $20 million Federal HOPE VI grant, plus $70 million in state, local and private funds was used to rebuild and expand the Fairfield Court complex

Where there's a will, there's a way.


  1. Anonymous1:06 PM

    Charlesview is having a meeting on 2/3/2008 at 6:30 pm in the community room at 51 Stadium Way.

  2. Thanks for mentioning it. Is that the correct date? 2/3 was last month.

  3. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Sorry it is 3/3/2008.
    sorry about the date.

  4. Charlie D.4:32 PM

    It's never clear to me what the overall consensus is on issue like this from these types of articles. They seem to always pick out the negative comments from folks. It seems to me that the general consensus WOULD be that this is a terrific project but it needs some adjustments (more family-sized units, better mixed of afforable and market rate units amongst each other). It's hard to tell from the article.

    Personally, I question the need for more open space, when over half the land is already dedicated to it, and the Charles River Reservation is just a short walk away. That goes along with the height complaints as well. You can have more open space and more height, or less open space and less height. You can't have both unless you reduce the total number of units, but I think more housing is definitely a good thing for Allston/Brighton.

  5. Hi Charlie,

    You can have less height and more open space if you use more land.

    Herter Park along Charles River is great but not real easy to get to. It is also not really a "neighborhood" park but much more of a regional resource. Ever been there on a weekend in the summer? Not really much space or opportunity for hundreds of additional people to use and enjoy it.

    Less than 1/3 of the "open space" in the Charlesview proposal is actually usuable open space like a park or playground. The Boston average is 7 acres of public parkland for every 1000 people. Charlesview proposes approximately 1 acre comprised of 2 playgrounds, a 1/2 of a basketball court, and a couple tiny seating areas as the entire "open space" for their 1000 residents.

    Here is what the City of Boston has said about the future of parkland in Allston. I don't see any way one could think the Charlesview proposal is consistent with the City's expectations:

    "“The disorganized growth of Allston has resulted in difficult community access to existing parklands as well as a general lack of green space in the community… With sizable land purchases in Allston by Harvard in the past decade, it is hoped that the community will also benefit by improvements to the
    public realm in scenic, passive, and recreation facilities that will result from development of these new holdings.”

    For a comparison of different types of "open space" throughout the City you might be interested in this map:

  6. Charlie D.11:52 PM

    That's very interesting about the actual usable open space throughout the project. Getting more land for the project would definitely be nice as well. Perhaps they could use the ENTIRE shopping plaza's land and somehow incorporate the existing stores into the development?

  7. Anonymous9:10 PM

    I tried attending the Charlesview meeting and got kicked out.

  8. Anonymous10:55 AM

    If the proposed land swap deal is not beneficial for surrounding community is there an option to void the contract for this deal?

  9. Dave,

    I think Charlesview needs to get the building permits for the new project before the deal with Harvard is completed.