Somerville plans dwarf BRA/Harvard plans

Allston and Brighton residents have been surprised by how little housing and other new development the BRA is proposing for the 30 acre Holton Street Corridor which is so badly in need of major redevelopment. The BRA's 10-15 year plan for includes between 296 and 191 new units of housing (509 t0 404 total units, minus the 213 units that replace the existing Charlesview, according to slide 30 in the June 29 presentation).

The BRA and Harvard's rationale has been that the economy is the limiting factor, but it is hard to believe that it is possible to sell/rent only new 13 units each year, especially if investments are made to build new parks, a new commuter rail stop, and other public realm improvements that should accompany this new development. In my opinion, it seems more likely that Harvard's desire to continue land-banking is the more likely motivation for the BRA's proposing so little development in the near future.

To debunk the theory that the economy is too dismal to contemplate anything more, Governor Patrick, Senator Kerry, and Congressman Capuano went to Somerville today to announce a 65 millon dollar state-federal partnership to move forward with the 66-acre Assembly Square Project, a project much greater than anything that could ever be imagined for A/B North.

"A large, multi-phase project to be completed over several years, the Assembly Square project will ultimately result in 1.75 million square feet of office space, 1.15 million square feet of retail space including a new hotel, 2,100 rental and ownership condominium housing units and a new MBTA Orange line stop"

According to the Globe, this Somerville development is planned to be completed in the next 10-15 years, the same timeframe during which the BRA says no more than 300 units of housing can be built in the Holton Street Corridor.

The scale of Assembly Square also makes the 10,000 square feet of retail proposed in the Holton St Corridor (less than 1% of what is planned for Assembly Sq) seem pretty small, doesn't it? Can the economy really be that much better 4 miles away?

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