Multi-million dollar Harvard purchase on Western Ave

Harvard purchased 1340 Soldiers Field Road (also known as 441-443 Western Ave), a rather uninteresting one-story brick commercial building on 3/4 of an acre. Assessed by the City for more than $2 million, this property (show with a blue outline in the map) completes a huge block of contiguous properties for Harvard on the north side of Western Ave with a view of the Charles River.

Keeping with past practices, Harvard created a temporary corporation "441 LLC" to acquire the property for $1 and then quickly merged it with Harvard Real Estate Allston Inc.


  1. And they chip-away at the neighborhood some more...
    They can plant all the trees in the world, build the "Ed Portal", bring a farmer's market, and fix some sidewalks, but it doesn't change the fact that Harvard's increasing encroachment is demoralizing residents (including this one) who can do little more than watch helplessly as Harvard just keeps pushing.

  2. Anonymous12:36 PM

    Horror of horrors! It would be so horrible to live close to Harvard! Just look at what they've done to Cambridge. The next thing you know, Allston will have rising property values, improved public transit, thriving retail, and good schools! Someone save us!

  3. In the 10+ years that Harvard has been buying property in Allston & Brighton, what improvements to public transit, retail, and schools have you seen that you attribute to Harvard's presence?

  4. Anonymous3:18 PM

    Didn't know Harvard was in charge of public transport, retail and the schools (though I guess you've dismissed the education portal).
    I guess we would be better if that $25 million investment went away too.

    How has Harvard been able to buy all these properties over a 10 year span? I'm going to guess because these properties have been available, meaning developers don't see the value in these areas.

    Once Harvard finishes its new buildings, this is going to create more people working and living in the area, spurring housing and retail demand. It will also look much better than the nothing that is currently there.

    If not Harvard, then who exactly is going buy and build on these properties?

  5. I didn't say that Harvard was in charge of public transport, retail, or schools. But as a major landowner and developer it does have some responsibility. I was responding to the comment "the next thing you know..." and the reality that there has been little or no progress by Harvard or anyone else in those areas in the past several years.

    So far, there isn't much to say about the education portal other than that it is an OK place to watch a free movie every few weeks. What has your experience been with it?

    Of course nobody but Harvard can or will build anything of significance in North Allston and North Brighton.

    Why do you assume that Harvard's new buildings will spur retail demand? I hope they will, but the Business School and Athletic Complex, for all the people they hold, have almost no effect on or interaction with the rest of the community to create demand for retail or anything else. And the design of the Science Complex does not do much to try to put people on the sidewalks, going to local stores and restaurants, etc. The fact that it will look better than the Pepsi warehouse doesn't matter for much if you are trying to find a place to eat dinner (and can't get in to the Science Complex's private rooftop restaurant).

  6. Just to be clear, it will be fantastic if Harvard et al decide to create the vibrant Barry's Corner / Western Ave / Brighton Mills / Main Street envisioned by the North Allston Strategic Framework. Unfortunately there haven't yet been any physical steps taken toward making this a reality.

  7. Anonymous8:20 AM

    The city of Boston has finally lost their minds in City Hall. I, for one, never saw a "For Sale" sign in front of that property. Who knows, maybe someone in Allston or Brighton or wherever could have purchased the land and put a small business there of their own. It is demoralizing to Allston. To let a $2 million piece of property be bought for $1 by Harvard is disgraceful. When is Mayor Mennino actually going to get out with the people of this town. Just once, I would like to see him show up for an open Harvard/Task Force meeting and not tell anyone from either group that he is showing up. Then he should put a stop to the meeting and just listen to all the lies Harvard has told us and the actual facts of what they have and have not done for us. After this last purchase, Harvard has just lost any good faith they have gained with this community. Even if it was miniscule.

  8. Harvard didn't really pay $1 for the property. The "official" price on the deed is $1 and then another check is written behind the scenes to complete the transaction.

  9. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Why do I think it will spur demand? Well for one reason, my wife went to HBS and we got a place in North Allston because of how close it was to HBS. I know a lot of people who went to HBS who did the same thing.

    After she graduated, we decided to stay in North Allston. I think it is not a stretch to believe that as Harvard increases its presence in the neighborhood, others will move into the neighborhood like we did. The question is if people like myself and I stay or not.

    For reading blogs like this and comments from those like t.s. and b.m, it is hard to get the impression that Harvard (or its students) is welcome in North Allston.

  10. There is a huge difference between having you and your wife as neighbors and having Harvard warehousing acres of empty of under-utilized property in the neighborhood. Would you share your thoughts about why you might or might not stay here?

  11. Anonymous11:23 PM

    Dear Anonymous from HBS:
    It's a running joke that HBS now has a vocational school where you could learn retailing, taxi service and landscaping; it's called Western Avenue. It's not so much that Harvard is buying everything up, it's the way they are doing it. They go out and solicit for property owners to sell their property to Harvard. I know they do this because a friend of mine goes to the Bus Stop and the owner told hime that Harvard had been in to his bar several times, uping the price every time. When they finally got to $5 million, he told them to get out and stay off of his property and don't come back.
    Also, K-Mart had a 25 year lease and Harvard was the one who kept uping the rent until finally K-Mart had no choice but to have Harvard buy their leasing agreement out. I know because I worked there along with several friends. So I would like to thank Harvard for putting all of those people out of work and not offering any of them a job at Harvard. There was no rush to put K-Mart out. It was disgraceful what they did and everybody who used to work there knew about it.

  12. Anonymous11:32 AM

    I think the owner of the Bus Stop needs to stop drinking @ work if he turned down $5 million for that property and business.

    While I don't fault Harvard for taking initiative and going out and soliciting owners to sell; the reality is that the network effect of Harvard's ownership around North Allston makes many of the properties non-viable for business. Brighton Mills isn't vacant because no one wants to put businesses there, it's vacant because as a previous poster said, Harvard made it too expensive for anyone to lease. Furthermore, the smaller buildings on Western, a few I wouldn't mind purchasing and turning into what I think are needed businesses, are non-starters because the surrounding, scuttled buildings detract from the overall location.

    You're simply not going to invest 7 figures into a property if the buildings adjacent and around it are being mothballed.

  13. Anonymous12:52 PM

    The Bus Stop owner should be asked if this is true.

  14. Anonymous1:12 PM

    Dar Anonymous:

    Your right, $5 million is a
    wwwhhhooollleee lot of money, but if he turned it down, then he must be making a lot more in drinks and food. I don't know if he is an Allstonian or not. As I recall, a developer from New York City bought a plot of land on the corner of two of the worst streets in Manhattan and everyone else around him started to fix their properties and other businesses started coming in. What was that guy's name? Oh ya!
    DONALD TRUMP!!!! the same thing happened in Times Square. Nobody was going to the theater because of all the drugs on the street and the hookers. Luckily we don't have that problem, although it would make for an interesting walk down Western Avenue. Disney bought one of the boarded up theaters, did what they do best and magic happened. the city thought they were crazy and were going to lose a bundle, but they did not. Same thing happened. The city got rid of the drugs, the hookers and now it's a place where everyone goes. I think the one line in "Field of Dreams" said it best, "If you build it, they will come". I had checked into putting a franchise business in across the street from Subway, but I did not have enough liquid assets to even go any further than the internet for information.
    So you see, some of us are willing to take on the job, but alas, lack of funds is the reason.

  15. Anonymous9:34 PM

    Hey, Allston,Brighton, up for sale to the highest bidder BUY THE City Of Boston,and the highest bidder is Harvard University, everyone They took over k-mart,pepsi, WGBH tv,office max and what is friggin next, Oh I forgot they have Charlesview also...
    So watch out they might SUCK UP THE WHOLE NEIGHBORHOOD before you know it AND THE CITY OF BOSTON DON'T CARE.
    We better watch out when they start building dorms in our community with ROWDY STUDENTS WE DON'T WANT TO HAVE PROBLEMS LIKE OUR BOSTON COLLEGE NEIGHBORS.

  16. Anonymous10:33 PM

    I agree with Harry. Look, I've lived in Allston for the last 15 years (went to Radcliffe so don't say I'm hostile to privilege) and Harvard has just sat on big chunks of property and suffocated any possibility of revival in the neighborhood. We bought a building on Franklin ST 15 years ago, rehabbed it and made loft and artists' studios, in hopes that some interesting stuff would happen. Library is great. But we're talking HARVARD here people.
    And, yes, my daughter visits the ed portal for 45 min. of tutoring and it's a nice gesture. But we're talking HARVARD here, people!!
    Pretty paltry offerings.