Retail Possibilities, Despite Harvard's Claims

After last week's Harvard Task Force meeting, a Harvard employee told me that I was crazy for thinking Harvard could do more to create the Western Ave "Main Street" with retail and service-oriented business that might be frequented by Allston residents. We should accept the quiet non-profit tenants like Earthwatch because, in this tough economy, Harvard really can't find any tenants with more public relevance.

This is a nice story for Harvard to tell, but it also isn't true. There are small, locally-owned retail businesses constantly opening, expanding, and relocating in the area. Whether or not Harvard could make offers attractive enough to lure them to Allston I don't know, but the possibilities do exist.

For example, there is an innovative restaurant owned by a Harvard grad. Last year they were considering opening a restaurant in the CITGO station on Western Ave. That fell through, and last month they opened a restaurant in Harvard Square.

This small ski and sporting goods store recently moved from Comm Ave near Newton Center to Needham Street. An another sporting goods store in Watertown is also moving to a new location.
Maybe these businesses or others like them would never be convinced to move to Western Ave, but it also isn't clear how hard Harvard is trying.

11 comments:

  1. Given what seems like a boom in new restaurants in (upper) Allston, it seems that some adventurous businesses might try opening in lower Allston. Even something that is an easy draw, like a good coffee shop in that Citgo station - think of how many people walk by there to get on a bus or just walk to Harvard Square.

    It's a damn shame that the deal for clover at Citgo fell through. Their food truck is fantastic. I'm tired of walking or biking over the highway to get to restaurants or going farther out of the neighborhood - I want more good stuff that's an easy stroll from my apartment.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The problem is the neighborhood residents block everything and anything Harvard attempts to do. It makes me sick to live in the neighborhood and see no progress, not because Harvard doesn't want progress, but because my fellow residents don't want to change the status quo (because then what would they complain about?) Stone Hearth Pizza is a perfect example of the neighborhood being anti-anything.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ken,

    Besides the issue of a beer/wine license for Stone Hearth, how else do you see residents of Allston "blocking everything and anything"?

    On the subject of Stone Hearth, my understanding is that some residents would prefer to see the license transferred from an existing establishment in Allston instead of having a new license enter the neighborhood. Some people who voted against the license at the ACA meeting last month told me they would support such a transfer. Does that really make them "anti-anything"?

    In any case, it would be great to have you and other residents who want to see progress, and help define what "progress" would be, come to future community meetings to be part of the solution.

    Harry

    ReplyDelete
  4. The museum in the former Verizon building. Residents cited increased traffic. My apartment abuts this building, I don't see how traffic could get any worse, and in fact, a museum wouldn't increase traffic significantly. The residents of the neighborhood have blocked every plan for redeveloping the Brighton Mills Shopping Plaza, and then complain that it has not been redeveloped. Certain residents have bought single family homes just to leave them vacant and a fire and rat risk just so that Harvard can't buy these properties.

    ReplyDelete
  5. >> Certain residents have bought single family homes just to leave them vacant and a fire and rat risk just so that Harvard can't buy these properties

    I've never heard that claim before. What are some addresses where this is happening?

    To the contrary, several of my neighbors and I have recently spent 10s or 100s of thousands of dollars to renovate our homes.

    >> The residents of the neighborhood have blocked every plan for redeveloping the Brighton Mills Shopping Plaza

    Could you be more specific about what was blocked at Brighton Mills? Charlesview is going to start construction shortly and many residents supported the BRA's concepts to redevelop all of Brighton Mills and the rest of the Holton Street Corridor. Community input also contributed to Harvard agreeing to redevelop the Brookline Machine site.

    >> The museum in the former Verizon building. Residents cited increased traffic.

    The main objection that many people had was that this would would be a quiet, mostly private art warehouse, not a true museum. That building next to HBS's Teele Hall, and across the street from the private athletic buildings that Harvard proposed for Barry's Corner would have killed the promise made by Harvard and the BRA for a lively, vibrant Barry's Corner. There were also questions including why the Verizon building was the best site for that building, how Harvard changed its mind after previously proposing the building at the former Citizens Bank building, and how that project could be considered at the same time as the massive Science Complex.

    ReplyDelete
  6. http://www.universalhub.com/2010/opponents-cite-parent-murdering-brothers-homer-sim

    Honestly, comparing Harvard to the Mendez brothers? The residents don't hostily oppose anything? Also, the vacant and rat filled fire hazards are on Houlton Street, behind the art studios on Franklin.

    ReplyDelete
  7. >> Honestly, comparing Harvard to the Mendez brothers? The residents don't hostily oppose anything?

    I'm not defending that analogy.

    >> Also, the vacant and rat filled fire hazards are on Houlton Street, behind the art studios on Franklin.

    Do you mean 16 Holton? Yes, it is vacant and in terrible disrepair, but what evidence do you have that it was purchased to prevent Harvard from buying it?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I live on Holton Street, right next door to 16. There is nothing vacant over here. And for the record, I agree with everything Ken wrote.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nothing vacant? Maybe I got the street # wrong, but this house looks vacant.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My family lives next door. All I can say is, looks can be deceiving.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Allston Civic Association is out of touch with the current majority of the neighborhood and they have got to go so that forward thinking people with vision can help mold the future of the neighborhood. I would love to see Western Ave turn into a "Main Street" with underground parking, improved drainage, restaurants and retail shops on first floors of modestly (5 stories) sized buildings with office and classroom spaces above. I think it can happen if new people get involved.

    ReplyDelete