...The plan will radically change the neighborhood. The question that many Allston residents are asking is whether the change will be for the good. Harvard has tried to appease concerned community members by building residential and commercial spaces open to Allston residents, as well as working with a task-force composed of residents to set up a $43 million package to fund various community improvements. The problem is they’ve heard pitches like this before.
A plan submitted by the university in 2007 included a year-round indoor garden, performing arts spaces, and a reflecting pool that could double as a skating rink. All of these amenities had to be cut after the 2008 recession took a big bite out of Harvard’s endowment. Besides, under the current plan, most of the work that would provide direct benefits to current residents will be scheduled to be completed after work is done on the more Harvard-focused developments. Allston residents have every right to be wary that the benefits promised to them will never materialize, or will be scaled down if money gets tight for Harvard sometime in the future.
Like it or not, construction in Allston is starting, and there is not much that young people can do about it. But keep in mind, regardless of what happens, it’s going to be Bostonians our age who, 10 years down the line, will reap the whirlwind if the plan fails, or enjoy the benefits it it succeeds. Personally, I hope the plan delivers on all its promises and Barry’s Corner becomes a more vibrant place that residents and academics can enjoy. Still, 10 years is a long time in urban development and any number of things can happen that will derail development. But if all goes as planned and you make a fortune by building a business at the new Allston innovation space, feel free to take me out for drinks.