Charles River Speedway Tour and Charrette - Saturday, April 30th

It is nice that DCR has re-shingled and painted the Speedway building on Western Ave, but it is still an empty building on a blighted site. Hopefully this event next Saturday will help lead to something more.

Charles River Speedway Headquarters, 1420 Soldiers Field Road, Brighton 9am

Join the Boston Preservation Alliance and the Brighton-Allston Historical Society to envision a new future for the Charles River Speedway Headquarters in Brighton. Your participation will assist us and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation in exploring opportunities for this unique, historic complex. The charrette will inform decision-making by public agencies and other interested parties regarding the future of the Charles River Speedway Headquarters. The charrette will also include an update about the Boston Landmarks Commission's Boston Landmark Study Report for the complex and an overview of Historic Boston Incorporated's planned feasibility study.

9:00-10:00 am
Tour of the Complex
Charles River Speedway Headquarters
1420 Soldiers Field Road, Brighton

10:30 am-2:45 pm
Presentations and Charrette
Honan-Allston Branch Library
300 North Harvard Street, Allston

Light morning refreshments and lunch is included. Transportation from the Speedway Complex to the library will be provided as needed.

Advance registration is required. Please RSVP for this event by Tuesday, April 26 to 617-367-2458 or

Harvard names new Provost - What will he want to do in Allston?

My sense is that every time a new person comes to Harvard in one of these high-level positions (Provost, Vice President for Capital Planning) it resets the clock on Harvard's planning for Allston. These new people are unlikely to accept 100% of the decisions that their predecessors made, and it seems equally likely that they will re-do some of the planning processes so that they can learn the issues and make their own decisions.

So my expectations for Harvard's Allston Work Team report (due sometime this summer) are lowered by the fact that a new Provost who was not involved in any of their deliberations will soon arrive and use that report as just one input into his own decision-making.

Harvard names new provost Boston Business Journal
"Garber will succeed Steven E. Hyman, who announced late last year that he would step down at the end of this academic year. Garber’s appointment is effective Sept. 1.

Among the areas Garber will focus on include “leading the University’s efforts to define academic aspirations and achievable programs in the entrepreneurial space represented by Allston"
Garber said he will prioritize the integration of Harvard’s schools and the University’s future development in Allston.

“One of the biggest attractions of this job is the ability to participate in the future of the Allston campus,” Garber said. “I view Allston as an opportunity unlike any other in American higher education today, where there is a campus that can be used to help realize the University’s vision for the future and make this a truly twenty-first century university.”

Stone Hearth renovation starts

It has been more than 3 years since Harvard bought the property and 6 months since we first heard about Stone Hearth Pizza coming to Allston. Yesterday showed the first physical signs of the renovation of what was once the Barry's Corner CITGO station.

At this rate, Barry's Corner will be great by 2050. Good things come to those that wait!

April, 2011


Town/Gown glimpse from across the river

Court denies suit against city and Lesley over Art Institue plan A state Land Court judge has ruled against residents suing the City of Cambridge and Lesley University over plans to relocate the Art Institute of Boston to the site of a historic church in Porter Square. Neighbors of the North Prospect Church had filed the suit in 2009 asking the court to overturn new zoning laws that enable Lesley to move the church to the south side of its Massachusetts Avenue property to make way for a new four-story building for the institute.

Ex-Harvard/Allston planners to plan with MIT/Cambridge

David Dixon and Goody Clancy - the consultants for the North Allston Strategic Framework- will be doing similar work with a city, neighborhood, and university in Cambridge. Hopefully more of their planning will become reality this time.

Meanwhile, I heard good things about new BRA Director Peter Meade from a friend who knows him well, but has Meade said anything about Harvard's abandoned Allston expansion in his recent interviews? When John Palmieri got the job in 2007, Harvard & Allston were supposed to be one of his top priorities.
Meade said he’s looking forward to doing work in Roxbury, Dudley Square and the Innovation District in South Boston, as well as the barren Filene’s site at Downtown Crossing.
City picks Kendall study firm - The Tech

Cambridge City Council yesterday selected Goody Clancy & Associates, a Boston architecture and planning firm, as consultants for the forthcoming study on the future of urban development in the area between Kendall and Central Squares. The study will define processes and implement changes that account for “missed opportunities” between the squares and bring together the wide array of existing plans and zoning change proposals that are in progress in the area.

The Council voted 8-0 last night to approve the selection of Goody Clancy and to allocate $350,000 for the study from two sources: a $175,000 one-time increase in MIT’s Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT), and a $175,000 “payment for ‘Neighborhood Planning Studies’ as project mitigation from Boston Properties.

David Dixon, head of Goody Clancy’s planning and urban design division, discussed Goody’s approach to the project. Dixon stressed the importance of housing in vitalizing the area. “It won’t do us any good to say ‘we need more retail in Central Square’ unless we expand the market. The best way to expand the market is housing,” he said.

As MIT rises, so does its city

Front page story in the Globe today about how MIT continues to make investments in building a better campus and community.

Over the last decade, MIT’s academic footprint has increased by more than 2.7 million square feet, its largest building boom since the federally funded postwar expansion of the 1960s. Now, as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology celebrates its sesquicentennial this month, it is beginning to turn its attention toward renovating facilities and developing neighboring commercial holdings.

The recent growth, which MIT pursued even through the recession, has injected millions of dollars into the city, augmented the university’s involvement in the life sciences, and remade once-gritty neighborhoods into one of the prime biotechnology and research centers in the country.

And in contrast to Harvard’s stalled expansion across the river into Boston’s Allston neighborhood during the recent economic downturn, MIT has managed to complete its building projects through heavy fund-raising and increased borrowing.