A/B Rep Moran on RadioBoston - should ticket resellers have price limits?

A new bill proposed by state Rep. Michael Moran (D-Brighton) would replace the current with a law that would allow resellers to charge whatever they wanted to.


Sounds like a good idea to me. If someone wants to spend $1000 to see a Red Sox game, why should our government care?

What in Allston is worth preserving?

Allston Places Worth Preserving Workshop

Harvard dawdles, Allston waits

Paul McMorrow explains Harvard's Allston game of Monopoly in today's Globe

Developers interested in Harvard's Enterprise Research Campus idea


Allston reaction to Harvard's new "plan"

"Plan" is in quotes because Harvard doesn't really have what I would call a plan, more like some ideas for some projects that maybe someday might move forward if Harvard can raise the money or find development partners with money to spend.

The stories:

Allston skeptical of Harvard’s new vision - Boston Globe
“Why should we as a community support five to six developments when Harvard can’t follow through on one — the science center?’’ said Cathi Campbell, 43, who lives in Allston. “Do you actually care about the community? Because it certainly doesn’t feel that way.’’
Allston crimson over Harvard plan - Boston Herald
Three Harvard professors who authored a new set of recommendations for the project were peppered with questions they couldn’t answer about when development — or even the fund raising needed for the project — would begin.

When Alex Kreiger, a professor of urban design and co-author of the report, referred to the stalled construction of the life sciences center on Western Avenue, the audience broke into laughter.

“It’s a hole,” another attendee joked.

“Well, it has a roof on it,” Kreiger said.

Listen for Harvard & Allston on WBUR's Radio Boston @ 3pm


Kendall Square questions for Harvard in Allston

Over at MIT's kendallsquareinitiative.org there are some good questions that we might also ask about Harvard's new ideas for Allston:

How people-friendly is Kendall Square?
Are there enough dining choices?
Can you run errands during your lunch hour?
Poke your nose into interesting shops?
How often do you visit Kendall Square on the weekend?
Are there places to gather with friends and do something fun?

"MIT wants to take the next logical step: create a new development where the activity at street level is as exciting as the work happening above; a development that meets the wants and needs of the community. One that offers places to eat, shop, and play, as well as think, discover, and invent."

Summary of Harvard's proposed land uses

Science Complex:
  • "Redesigned to maximize available science square footage" - This could mean reductions in the retail, daycare, restaurant, and courtyard and make the building even less public than previously planned.
  • "The underground 5-acre foundation previously envisioned in part for parking, would be perfect for imaging" - Where will the 500 cars park if not in this underground garage?
  • "The University’s upcoming capital campaign presents a unique opportunity to facilitate and support development of this site." - Harvard hasn't officially started the capital campaign yet and also needs to raise $1B for undergraduate housing renovations in Cambridge, so it could be years before it has the money to resume construction at the Science Complex site.
Barry's Corner:
  • A residential rental community complemented by amenities such as retail shops and childcare services
  • New housing is proposed for the area in the north‐western quadrant of Barry’s Corner where there currently is a parking lot, the Ed Portal, and the one-story building that houses the Ceramics Studio and other activities
Current Charlesview Site
  • "The Work Team recommends that the University advance academic planning to explore potential institutional uses"
  • Sounds pretty vague for a site that will become a major eyesore in a few years after the current apartments are demolished.
Enterprise Research Campus:
  • 36 acres with 1.5-2.5 million sq feet of new development
  • Would be developed by private developers (to be determined) with long-term leases from Harvard
  • Located between Cambridge Street and Western Ave at the empty site of the Sears foundation and Romar trucking facility.
Hotel & Conference Center
  • 30,000-square-foot conference center & 180-bed hotel
  • Between the Research Campus and Genzyme
All the rest of Harvard's property in North Allston and North Brighton:
  • Who knows? It doesn't even merit a mention in the report

Harvard's construction "timeline"

Fall 2011: HBS Innovation Lab complete
Mid 2013: New Charlesview complete
Late 2013: Tata Hall complete
To be determined: Everything else
From the presentation at http://harvardmagazine.com/sites/default/files/Allston-presentation.pdf (which I expect is the same presentation we will be shown at tonight's meeting)

Taking the "art" out of Allston

One big change in the new Harvard plan is the removal of any specific plans to include performing and visual arts in Harvard's Allston expansion. Past plans described a performing arts center at the current site of the Charlesview apartments and a contemporary art museum also in Allston.

2010 Harvard Crimson story:
Lori E. Gross, the Associate Provost of Arts and Culture, echoes these sentiments.

“Arts and culture has always been part of the long term plan in Allston,” she says.

Yet the administration’s language on the subject remains vague. “In due course Allston will be a wonderful space for artistic experimentation and collaboration,” Sorensen writes. “It will offer not only our students and faculty unique cultural activities, but it will also share them with the Allston residents in innovative, fruitful ways, facilitating cultural citizenship and entrepreneurship.”

2011 Work Team report:
In past planning, the area defined as west of the Harvard Business School (including Ohiri Field and the site of the Harvard Innovation Lab) and bounded by Western Avenue and North Harvard Street, was viewed as an area for academic growth and was contemplated for use by professional schools and the arts.

The Work Team recommends that this area continue to be viewed as a place for academic growth, in addition to the Western Avenue foundation. This recommendation does not preclude prior proposed uses, although the Work Team recognizes that those uses may change given current economic conditions and University needs.

Harvard's Allston Work Team report released

The report

Allston Campus Development Plans Downsized - Harvard Magazine

Harvard may turn to partners to revive Allston expansion - Boston Globe

Work Team Recommends Rethinking of Harvard's Allston Expansion - Harvard Crimson

Advocacy for bridge underpasses could reach critical mass

On a more optimistic note, it is great to read about progress on the efforts led by the Charles River Conservancy to have bike/pedestrian underpasses added to the Allston/Cambridge bridges.

Harvard says one thing, does another

Harvard, Club ice rink deal - BostonHerald.com
"Still, the swap — which Harvard and the club quietly negotiated over the past 10 weeks — doesn’t mollify all of the university’s Allston critics.

Local activist Harry Mattison said planners from both Harvard and the Boston Redevelopment Authority have long recommended a multi-story, mixed retail/residential development at the Lincoln Street site, not a one-story skating rink.

“A new skating club could be great, but we need to figure out how it’s going to fit into the neighborhood’s future,” he said. “It’s very hard to understand why Harvard often says one thing, then does something very different.”"
Harvard in 2009 - during the public review of the multistory Charlesview proposal - told us tall, dense buildings are great!
"Taller buildings could be built in the middle of the [Holton St Corridor] to provide more homes... The densities and land uses presented may not create enough value to support the amount of public infrastructure and open space represented in this alternative"
Harvard in 2011 - after making a deal with the Skating Club - loves one-story suburban sprawl!
“The Skating Club of Boston’s (plans) align with our long-term goal of enlivening this important space,” school Executive Vice President Katie Lapp said.

Hey look! Another major Boston-area transformation moves forward!

Sounds sort of like the revitalization of Barry's Corner and Brighton Mills that Harvard promised to the residents of Allston and Brighton. I wonder if President Faust's Work Team will propose something of similar magnitude when they unveil their plans in the next few weeks.

Future finally brightens for Assembly Square - Boston.com
the developer of the $1.5 billion revitalization of Assembly Square in Somerville will begin construction this fall on hundreds of homes, stores, and an expanded park along the Mystic River.

This fall’s work will also include construction of the Assembly Square Orange Line station and the revitalization of a large section of the Mystic River Reservation

AvalonBay Communities Inc. will begin construction this fall on the first two residential buildings on the site. The buildings, which will contain retail stores on the ground floor, will be built along the Mystic River and include 450 apartments.

Federal Realty itself will begin construction in the fall or early 2012 on a separate 280,000-square-foot retail building that will include a theater, restaurants, a few large retailers and smaller shops

The full build-out of the site is expected to take 10 to 15 years. Later phases will include another 1,650 residential units, additional parks, a 200-room hotel, and office buildings that Federal Realty hopes to lease to technology or medical tenants. The firm estimates the work will create 21,000 construction jobs and 19,000 permanent jobs.

Wow, that's a lot of surface parking in the Skating Club's design

Reducing the amount of parking or moving it underground or into a multi-story parking garage would sure make this look less like a suburban shopping mall.

This image from the recent presentation by a Harvard consultant gives letter grades to various configurations of buildings, parking, and sidewalks. The current skating club design looks like it gets grades from C to E. Can it be improved so we get new development that gets As?

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."

Dorchester getting a new commuter rail stop

For years and years we have attended meeting and heard presentations about bringing a commuter rail stop to Allston or Brighton. I assumed that in these tight budget times projects like that just don't happen any more. So I was surprised to read that construction is starting on a $16 million commuter rail stop in Codman Square. It will be great for them to get their stop and I wonder if or when A/B will get one too.

Fairmount Line, transit-oriented development welcomed in Codman Square - Boston.com

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Harvard forgets its fences

Harvard gave a presentation at last night's Task Force meeting about its plans to build Tata Hall, a $100 million new executive education building for the Business School on what is now a grass field near the Charles River, Soldiers Field Road, and the Weeks Footbridge.

From Harvard's scale model of the campus, rendered images, and descriptions of a permeable design that flows from campus to city, one might actually think that the border between the Business School and the adjacent sidewalk is open and porous. That would be nice, but that is not the reality.

With the exception of a couple gates, there is nothing open or accessible about this area. Everywhere there is not a building there is some combination of hedge, wall, or fence.

Harvard representatives had no comment last night when asked if the lack of walls and fences in their presentation materials were an indication that the walls and fences were going to be removed in the spirit of creating a more permeable campus.

Harvard's PresentationHarvard's Reality

By the way, Harvard has the right to build whatever it wants between its campus and its neighbors in Boston and Cambridge. It would just be nice for them to be honest about it instead of misrepresenting it.