Should Harvard buy this blighted neighborhood eyesore?

The Dewalt/Black & Decker building at the western end of Western Ave is for sale.

I wrote about this property here and here, and what happens to this building will tell us a lot about the future trajectory of our neighborhood.

In some parallel universe, we might want Harvard to buy it. As a first-class, long term investor in our neighborhood, we might be able to count on Harvard to develop the site for a use that would be mutually beneficial for all. But unfortunately Harvard doesn't seem to be in a position (for various reasons) to help redevelop this site.

The site is located in the Western Ave / Soldiers Field Road Community Commercial sub-district where the zoning allows a maximum floor area ratio of 1 which would allow at most a 15,000 square foot building on this 15,000 parcel. Existing zoning also limits the building height to 35 feet. But considering that Harvard and Charlesview both were granted City approval to build much higher in this area and the increased, it seems unlikely that nothing bigger than a 15,000 sq ft, 35 foot building would be built here.

But the neighbors in this area, and presumably any potential buyers, have no idea what type of new construction on this site might be warmly welcomed and what might be strongly opposed (either in the community or City Hall). Should this be a location for retail, housing, commercial space, or some combination thereof? If housing, should it be rental, condo, affordable, or high-end? Is a max height of 35, 55, or 75 appropriate?

Asking these questions brings to mind the North Allston / North Brighton Community Wide Plan that the community and BRA were once working on together. The CWP has been in hibernation for almost a year and when key parcels, with tremendous potential, in gateway locations come on the market, wouldn't it be great if the City planners and local residents had already agreed on what type of development is desired?

Instead, here we are in a realm of uncertainty, with no useful guidance existing for whoever might be interested in buying the property, and all we can do is hope that their goals and expectations match whatever might eventually come from any community/City planning that may (or may not) ever happen.

Here is the listing from Centre Realty Group

Unique Commercial Building For Sale. 50,000 + Average Daily Traffic. Four (4) way intersection with six (6) designated lanes along with traffic signal at Major high traffic intersection of Soldiers Field Road, Western Ave, Waverly Street and Arsenal Street. Building is approximately 4,000 square feet with expansion capabilities. Former Black and Decker retail store, with ample parking behind and around building. Charles River Views, and abuts Harvard Redevelopment Zone.
Assessed Value: $332,000
Property Tax: $4,500.26


  1. I've made inquiries on moving the barbershop to the corner!

  2. $332K right on the Charles seems like a very low assessment, no matter what kind of shack or shanty is currently there.

  3. I would like to see a three story building with retail on the ground floor and 4-6 condo's (2-3 per floor) on top. Perhaps set the sidewalk in a little to allow on street parking and a bike lane.