Boston Skating Club & Harvard make a deal - Why bother planning?

Harvard has finally figured out what to do with the big empty building on Lincoln Street that it purchased in 2006 between Everett St & the storage warehouse. The new skating facility on Lincoln Street may be great (hard to tell without knowing more details), but it does raise a few questions:
  1. What will Harvard do with the current skating club property on Western Ave after the new skating club is built?

  2. Why do we bother having public meetings with Harvard, the BRA, and community to devise plans for the future of North Allston and North Brighton? We spent a lot of time a few years ago discussing on the Holton Street Corridor. For the 176 Lincoln St site, the BRA proposed retail/residential mixed use development of 4-6 stories with ~40-60 units per acre. Harvard's response noted that:

    "It is an opportunity for an existing urban neighborhood, city and an institution to comprehensively plan together for redevelopment of a significant portion of their neighborhood, city and land."

    Maybe Harvard believed that in 2009, but obviously in 2011 Harvard has no interest in comprehensively planning anything together.

  3. Why did the BRA come to a community meeting last month with Harvard planners and their consultants to talk about the importance of guidelines for sidewalk improvements on Western Ave? Clearly the redevelopment of a 5 acre parcel on Lincoln Street and 2 acres on Western Ave are more timely and relevant topics.

  4. Harvard, the BRA, and McDonald's have already made their deal to build a new one-story McDonald's on Western Ave, so this seems like water under the bridge, but the rationale they gave for making that urban design error was the need to continue Telford St to the south of Western Ave to form the east edge of the new Charlesview housing. Now that Harvard owns the Skating Club site which borders Telford St there could be much more flexibility to realign Telford St on the north and south sides of Western Ave. I'm not holding my breath for Harvard and the BRA to go back to the Telford St drawing board and figure out how to fix Telford St without the waste of tearing down a McDonald's to rebuild it a few yards to the east, but it is interesting how these things turn out and what might have happened instead.
"The Skating Club of Boston, which bills itself as the third-oldest skating club in the nation, has entered into a land-exchange agreement with Harvard University, trading its current location along Western Avenue in Allston for the University’s Lincoln Street property, also in Allston. The property at 176 Lincoln currently houses a building shell, which will be demolished to make room for the construction of the new skating facility.

The Club’s new facility will feature three rinks, which will enable the club it to support training for competitive figure skaters, learn-to-skate programs, synchronized skating, theater on ice, recreational public skating, and hockey.

As part of the agreement, Harvard University will become owner of the current rink on Western Avenue and will rent it back to The Skating Club of Boston during the construction of the new facility. Harvard will also acquire the adjacent Soldiers Field Road property currently owned by The Skating Club of Boston, where the Days Hotel will continue to operate under an existing long-term lease."

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