In Allston, Brighton, future uncertain for Harvard-owned parcels - The Boston Globe
"Pioneers get shot down by arrows," said Paul Conforti, co-owner of Finale and Harvard Business School MBA ’97.If Paul isn't comfortable being a pioneer in this situation, that is certainly his right. His primary commitment probably is, and should be, to be to his employees and investors. He didn't help develop the North Allston Strategic Framework, Harvard did.
And because Harvard is our majority commercial landowner and pledged to create an "expansion of community-serving retail and other services, concentrated to form a walkable, traditional Main Street in the heart of North Allston," it is Harvard's obligation to be the pioneer or find reasonable ways to help other pioneer while protecting them from the arrows of financial risk, such as basing rent on a percentage of revenue or using Harvard's massive purchasing power to offset the unknown demand that would otherwise exist.
The "pioneer" analogy is an interesting one. Last year I compared Harvard's Allston expansion to the Louisiana Purchase, and moving into Allston will obviously require Harvard to make some investments. So Harvard's Lauren Marshall is absolutely right that Harvard's 450,000 sq ft building on Lincoln St requires "a lot of investment. It's currently not in condition to lease."
But that building wasn't in a condition to lease 2+ years ago when Harvard bought it at a 90% discount from the $120 million that it cost to build it. So either Harvard will make the investment that it has always known would be needed so the building can be leased, or it is holding back our neighborhood by holding onto an unusable property with a lot of potential that it has no intention to use in the foreseeable future.