Globe writes about hopes for Allston bridge underpasses

Thanks to the Globe for writing this story and to the Charles River Conservancy and and State Reps Walz and Wolf for their advocacy regarding the inclusion of bike/pedestrian underpasses when the Allston/Cambridge bridges are rebuilt.

The state says it can't afford adding these underpasses, but the state able to afford rebuilding the pedestrian overpass that crosses Storrow Drive near Beacon Hill (price tag: $10M). The state is also rebuilding the pedestrian overpass in Cambridge near the BU Bridge. But the budget is tight and a discussion about the cost and benefit is worth having

But it is disappointing a for the state to use as an excuse "the difficulty of securing the federal permits needed to disturb parkland and alter the appearance of bridges in the Charles River Basin". I don't know who would need to approve these permits, but is the point of the permitting process to prevent any change or improvement, locking our surroundings in a time capsule for ever, or it is to allow reasonable and constructive progress?

For path users, dangerous crossings along the Charles - The Boston Globe

New Fenway development proposed

Another significant new development was proposed this week. Apparently the real estate market for these mixed-use urban projects is really picking up. I sure am looking forward to seeing exciting new development come to Barry's Corner and the Holton Street Corridor!

Developer Samuels files $250M Fenway building plan - - 12/20/2010
Steven Samuels has filed his latest plan to complete the transformation of Boylston Street, behind Fenway Park.

The Boston developer, who has won praise from Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the neighborhood for Trilogy and 1330 Boylston, is planning a mix of office, retail, housing and underground parking on a two-acre parcel at 1325 Boylston St. and 132 Brookline Ave.

Under the $250 million plan filed today with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Samuels & Associates has proposed a total of 290 apartments, 195,000 square feet of retail and 225,000 square feet of office space.

MIT to redevelop Kendall "as quickly as possible"

I continue to be amazed that while so little new retail is being considered by Harvard in Allston, MIT in Cambridge want to move forward quickly with is major redevelopment of Kendall Square.

Sketch of Kendall Square proposal pleases board | Cambridge Day
The proposal heard at the Tuesday informational session, during which board members could speak and ask questions but the public could not, would bring 940,000 square feet of labs and offices, 100,000 of retail and 60,000 for market-rate housing. That’s enough square footage for between 40 and 50 units, associate board member Charles Studen said.

The school could get 800,000 new square feet for academic research out of the development. Although the timeline for the project is muddy, the school’s enthusiasm was made very clear by Michael Owu, director of real estate for the MIT Investment Management Co.

“We want to create this space as quickly as possible,” Owu said.

What an amazing winter use of vacant space!!

How amazing would it be if Harvard stepped up its concept of "interim use" of its empty Allston property and instead of a little skating rink in the old VW dealership did something like this? If the Cleveland Indians can do it...

Cleveland Turns Progressive Field Into Winter Playground -
"As part of what the team calls Snow Days, the site’s centerpieces are a 10-lane tubing hill named the batterhorn that stretches from the middle of the bleachers into right field, and a quarter-mile ice skating track called the frozen mile — the first of its kind in the United States, the Indians say — that zips past the warning track, second base, the bullpens and underneath the bleachers.

It took about a month to construct the Indians’ winter playground, which was built mostly by local companies, and so far the only real hurdle has been removing the excess snow that has fallen this month. Before nature cooperated, about 120 tons of snow were made daily to keep Snow Days running. The event began the day after Thanksgiving, will run through Jan. 2 and is expected to draw about 60,000 people by the time it closes. Most of the tickets range from $5 to $25.

Kurt Schloss, a Snow Days project manager, said, “All I can tell you is that standing at the bottom of the hill, watching people come down the batterhorn, if I heard ‘awesome’ once, I heard it 10,000 times.”

Boston PILOT Task Force report released

Mayor Menino's PILOT Task Force released its report today with suggested changes to Boston's Payment In Lieu of Taxes program that asks non-profit institutions in Boston to make voluntary payments.

Harvard contributes approximately $2M annually and Boston College $300,000, based on property valued at $1.5 billion and $560,000 respectively (5% and 2% of what they would pay if the property was taxable). BU and Berklee top that list by paying 8+% and Northeastern barely "contributes" anything ($30,000 PILOT for $1.3B of property).

The Task Force recommends that all non-profits make PILOT contributions of 25% of their property's taxable value, with 50% of this being paid in cash and 50% being in the form of community services.

Time will tell how close to this goal the City will get, but it certainly would be a different situation if Harvard contributed 5 times as much as it does now, with this year's $2M cash increasing to $5M cash and accompanied by $5M in service.

Gardner School 'Flash Mob' Promotes Reading

'Flash Mob' Promotes Reading - Boston News Story - WCVB Boston
"Hundreds of Boston elementary school students and teachers participated in a "flash mob" dance on Wednesday to encourage children to read."

Quincy model for A/B North?

With the BRA talking about a 2-5 year plan for Western Ave, the Holton St Corridor, and the rest of North Allston and North Brighton, the plans for a new Quincy Center are another potential model for the long-promised and long-awaited renaissance in A/B.

Quincy's $1.3 billion plan includes more than 1 million square feet of new office space, more than 700 housing units, two hotels, a cinema and entertainment complex, and 570,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space in Quincy Center with construction scheduled to start in 2013.
I can't imagine Harvard and the BRA considering anything of this magnitude being for Allston, but we could put this at one end of the spectrum, MIT's 240,000 sq ft retail/office building at the other end, and then see what relative to those projects Harvard sees itself capable of doing on its many under-used acres.

Where is that Harvard Draft IMPNF Hiding?

Last week, Harvard distributed a draft Institutional Master Plan Notification Form for the 125 Western Ave project. The PDF was emailed to the members of the BRA's Task Force, city and state elected officials, and staff at the BRA. As I started to think about sharing some thoughts on it, I was looking to see where the document was publicly posted.

I looked at Harvard's Allston website and was surprised to see no mention at all of 125 Western Ave and the proposed Tata Hall. Though both of these projects have received extensive Harvard-initiated press coverage in recent weeks, Harvard mentioned neither of them on its Allston website.

So I went to the BRA's "Harvard Allston Campus Planning and Institutional Master Plan" website but the most recent document there is meeting minutes from July 2009.

This draft became a public document after it was received by the people at the State, City, and BRA who are subject to the Public Records Law but with its limited distribution it is being treated as private. I could cynically guess why there isn't more openness and transparency, but especially because there is talk about re-starting public planning with Harvard and the BRA for North Allston and North Brighton it would be a sign of good faith to see more information-sharing on this project.

Clover wants to rent from Harvard, but the feeling doesn't seem mutual

Clover Food Lab · Clover HUB

"And we’ve been looking at the vacant Citgo station on Western and Harvard Ave. in Allston forever, but Harvard has been claiming for 18 months that it is under agreement."

TAB reports on last week's Harvard Allston Task Force meeting

Harvard-Allston Task Force presses Harvard for details on project - Allston-Brighton, MA - Allston/Brighton TAB
“We’re getting a piecemeal approach,” said Houghton, who is also the president of Allston-based Houghton Chemical Corporation. “I’m asking for a business plan, and it seems to me that the Business School should be able to do that.”
Andy O’Brien, Harvard Business School’s chief of operations responded that Harvard feels it needs to have the site ready before it offers a more detailed plan.
Does anyone think it makes sense that Harvard needs the building built before it can figure out the details of its public programming?

Menino & Alford on Harvard expansion

Mayor: Let Harvard Business build -

Harvard University won an important ally yesterday in its plans for a $120 million expansion of the Business School.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino told the Herald that the city should not stand in the way of the school’s proposal for a new academic facility on Western Avenue.

But Paul Alford, who lives near the giant hole that would have been another major Harvard project - the stalled $1 billion science complex on Western Avenue - accused the mayor of a double standard.

Globe's take on the Stone Hearth liquor license

Amid controversy, Allston restaurant's liquor license to be revoked -

ACA meets Wednesday, 6:00 @ Honan Library


  • Guest Speaker: Renata von Tscharmer, President Charles River Conservancy - Re: Bridge reconstruction plans
  • Discussion: Community Wide Plan for Western Ave/Holton St. corridor
  • Myung Dong, 90 Harvard Ave. Request to add Cordials to existing wine and malt license.
  • Notice of Project changes to Griggs Street project (Develop Mt. Vernon Real Estate will describe).
  • Azama Grille, Harvard Ave. Request for extension of hours of operation.

For a Harvard Allston Entrepreneurship Portal

Harvard's presentation at Wednesday's Task Force meeting devoted significant time to the concept that Harvard would offer programs and services that would be relevant to business owners and potential business owners in Allston. While Harvard showed us a PowerPoint slide with the logos of many organizations the might be part of this endeavour, there were few (if any) real details provided.

One suggestion from the Allston community, that I think has a lot of merit, is that Harvard should more past generalities and develop a business plan for this Harvard Allston Entrepreneurship Portal. The plan would include a staffing plan, budget and funding information, programming plan, outreach plan, and the other details that a Harvard professor would expect from a Harvard Business School student.

As it so happens, over the next few months Harvard Business School is running its annual business plan contest. The best and brightest from across Harvard's many schools will be developing plans for new businesses, and the contest even has a Social Venture Track "to educate HBS students in the process of creating and evaluating new ventures that have a central focus on the creation of social value".

It is easy to say that 125 Western Ave might be a satellite office for SCORE. It takes some (but not too much) work to contact Harvard alumni to get a rough idea of how many would be willing to serve as volunteer mentors for businesses in Allston. Then it takes a bit more work to figure out how many businesses might be mentored at any one time, how many hours per month of mentoring each business will receive, how businesses will apply to join the program, etc.

So here is an opportunity that would benefit both the Harvard students who would develop such a plan and the Allston business owners who would be part of the eventual program. Will Harvard embrace the opportunity and its two-way synergy?

Can Harvard match MIT's development?

A mile and a half east of Harvard's idle Western Ave foundation, MIT is ramping up plans for a $100 million, 5 story, 240,000 square foot new building. According to The Tech, "the ground floor will be used for retail facilities, while upper stories will be dedicated to research and office space" and construction could start in 2011.

MIT also plans to create 100,000 square feet of retail space in Kendall Square retail space to “really activate the street edge.”

The obvious question is if MIT can do something of this magnitude in Cambridge, can Harvard do it in Allston?

MIT's Cambridge PlanSome of Harvard's Many Areas of Allston Opportunity

Take the Boston Bikes Survey

I know there are a lot of bicycle riders in Allston and Brighton, so please take a minute to share your thoughts about biking in Boston

Harvard Allston Work Team Co-chair Leaving

My understanding is that Tufano's financial expertise was being used to consider financing options for construction on the Western Ave Foundation and elsewhere on Harvard-Allston property. No word on if his position on the Work Team will be filled.

Harvard Business School Professor Heads to Oxford The Harvard Crimson

Harvard Business School Professor Peter Tufano ’79 will leave Harvard next year to become Dean of the Saïd Business School at Oxford.

Allston Work Team

The Work Team is led by three co-chairs:

• Bill Purcell, Special Advisor on Allston;
• Peter Tufano, Sylvan C. Coleman Professor of Financial Management, Harvard Business School; and
• Alex Krieger, Professor in Practice, Graduate School of Design

New Cambridge Home for Harvard Stem Cell team

A $65M gut renovation is underway in Cambridge to create new labs for the stem-cell scientists who were to have come to Allston.

Harvard renovates building to create new labs for stem-cell research Harvard Magazine Nov-Dec 2010

Harvard Allston ceramics sale starts Thursday

As always, the ceramics at this event will be amazing and reasonably priced. If you haven't been in the past, it is definitely worth taking a look.

December 9, Thursday, 3 – 8 pm, Opening Reception
December 10-12, Friday – Sunday, 10 am – 7 pm
219 Western Ave

Upcoming zoning hearings

26 Leamington Road
446 Western Ave
963-969 Commonwealth Avenue
113 Murdock Street

Galvin calls for changes to district redrawing

Kudos to our Brighton neighbor Galvin for proposing to get some of the politics out of redistricting. The crazy boundaries that define our State Rep (in green) and State Senate (in purple) show that in neither case do we have districts that are compact, contiguous, and keep communities within a single district.

Galvin calls for changes to district redrawing - The Boston Globe

Licensing Board erred on Stone Hearth license

Boston Questions Pizzeria License The Harvard Crimson

"Stone Hearth applied for a beer and wine license reserved for businesses in “urban renewal areas,” special zones that the Boston Redevelopment Authority designates in need of revitalization.

But according to a map on the BRA’s website, the restaurant’s new location on 182 Western Ave. is not included in the nearby urban renewal area encompassing a public housing complex [Charlesview] across the street."

By the way, I agree with Harvard's spokesperson that "Stone Hearth is the kind of vibrant, community facing locally-owned business that we’ve consistently heard the community wants." I also stand by my quote in the article that the Harvard-Allston relationship would benefit from more constructive collaboration and I am glad that Stone Hearth will be preparing to open their new restaurant in Allston.

A/B elected officials oppose HBS projects

Pols oppose Harvard plan -

"In a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, state Sen. Steven Tolman, Reps. Kevin Honan and Michael Moran and City Councilor Mark Ciommo urged the city to reject any development proposal until the school fills vacant properties it owns in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood...

But in the letter to the city, officials insisted that new construction on Harvard-owned property should not be considered until significant development of the Holton Street Corridor - an area along Western Avenue that includes the half-vacant Brighton Mills mall - is leased"

Tell Rondo that Smith Field needs new courts

Thanks to Joe T. Walsh, Osmin Montero, and everyone else who is spreading the word

Rajon Rondo Bostons Got Wings - Vote For Your Court :: Red Bull

Anderson Bridge comments from Allston Brighton North Neighbors Forum

The ABNNF has submitted this letter regarding the State's plans to reconstruct the Anderson Memorial Bridge that connects North Harvard St in Allston with JFK St in Cambridge.

More information about the project is available here:

If you are interested in submitting comments about this project (which will affect all of us for years both during and after construction) the deadline for this phase of comments is November 27.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 9:41 AM
Subject: Project File No. 605517 - Anderson Bridge comments from Allston Brighton North Neighbors Forum
To: "Boundy, Stephanie (DOT)" <>,

November 23, 2010

Frank A. Tramontozzi, P.E., Chief Engineer
MassDOT Highway Division
10 Park Plaza
Boston, MA 02116

RE: Project File No. 605517 - Anderson Bridge comments from Allston Brighton North Neighbors Forum

Mr. Tramontozzi,

On behalf of the Allston Brighton North Neighbors Forum (ABNNF), I am writing to submit comments after attending the November 17 meeting on the Anderson Memorial Rehabilitation Project.

We are pleased to see plans for the Anderson Bridge that look to be a significant improvement over the current design. We hope that further collaboration and consideration will yield further improvements before the design is complete.

Bike/Pedestrian Underpasses

This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Underpasses for pedestrians and bicyclists with proper lighting and drainage would be a major asset. For the thousands of people who frequently exercise, commute, and enjoy the river, we hope you will find a way to include underpasses in the bridge reconstruction. The additional thousands of people who participate in fund-raising walks and road races along the river would similarly benefit from the increased safety and ease of travel.

When evaluating the feasibility of Anderson Bridge underpasses, please note that MassDOT recently agreed to a $10 million replacement for the pedestrian bridge along the Longfellow bridge. The pedestrian bridge in Cambridge near the BU Bridge is in the process of being completely rebuilt. We hope that the people of Allston will be similarly considered.

Tree removal should be minimized

Existing trees that undermine the structural integrity of the bridges should of course be removed. But your plan removes many trees that do not harm the bridge and that add natural beauty to the area. Just because a tree is not a native species and is not in a master plan does not mean it should be removed. It also seems inappropriate to cut down several trees to create a construction storage and staging site. Please find another location for these construction activities where trees do not need to be removed.

Construction options deserve public discussion

This project's construction will have a severe impact on the quality of life for Allston/Brighton residents. A public discussion of various options and their pros and cons is merited.

For example, how would the impact, schedule, and cost change if the bridge was completely closed during construction? There are not enough facts known to determine if this would be wise - but with the Eliot, Western, and River Street bridges and Weeks Footbridge in close proximity, the likelihood that construction would be faster and cheaper with the bridge completely closed, and the relatively successful closure of the Craigie bridge during its construction - this and other possibilities should be creatively and openly considered.


What are the plans for sidewalk snow removal after the construction is complete?
What is the long-term maintenance plan so that the "new" bridge does not deteriorate as the current bridge has?

Stakeholder Meetings
At Wednesday's meeting it was mentioned that several stakeholder meetings were held earlier this year. The residents of North Allston will be directly affected by this project, and it is our understanding that there were no North Allston residents present at these meetings. We would appreciate the opportunity to have an ABNNF representative present at all future stakeholder meetings for this project.

Harry Mattison
Allston Brighton North Neighbors Forum

Anderson Bridge presentation now online

Here is the presentation that was made on Tuesday about the reconstruction of the Anderson Bridge between North Harvard St and Cambridge.

Upcoming zoning hearings

38 Breck Avenue
21 Rogers Park Avenue
4 Garrish Street
45 Selkirk Road

BRA gets tough with Vornado. Is Harvard next?

In this letter to Steven Roth and John Hynes, BRA Director John Palmieri cites the lost revenue, construction jobs, and negative impact of the stalled Filene's Basement project and says that a new Project Notification Form must be filed. Will Drew Faust get a similar letter soon?

Truly amazing biology/computer/art

The work of Harvard Professor Rob Lue, who also directs Harvard's Ed Portal, is featured in this NY Times story. The images and videos are absolutely incredible and have great potential to be part of awe-inspiring and educational public art (which sure could look great in Allston!)

Molecular Animation - Where Cinema and Biology Meet -

Anderson Bridge meeting tonight

6:30 at the Honan Library. Learn about the plans to reconstruct this bridge connecting North Harvard and JFK streets

Anderson Bridge website

Notice of Public Hearing

ACA meets Wednesday

The next Allston Civic Association monthly meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 17th at the Honan Allston Library.


6PM to 7PM: Closing Times - StoneHearth's Pizza - Harvard and the Allston Community.

7PM: Zoning and Licensing Matters:
  • 1079-1089 Commonwealth Ave. ("The Atrium") Proposal for Tanning Salon
    Habibi's Loung: Extension into adjacent property, adjustment of extended hours, Live Entertainment
  • 446 Western Ave. Request to legalize Taxi Dispatch operation

Dear BRA & Harvard - How about urban farms on vacant property in Allston?

Imagine mini-Allandale Farms across Dorchester and Mattapan - Universal Hub

The BRA and the Department of Neighborhood Development hold a meeting next week on a proposal to turn vacant lots owned by the city (in Dorchester) into urban farms to help increase the amount of "affordable, healthy food" available in the neighborhoods.

Upcoming zoning & licensing hearings

Subway - 419 Washington Street
Stone Hearth Pizza, Co. - 182 Western Avenue
175 Parsons Street - Erect a one-family dwelling on same lot as existing two-family dwelling.

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.

Allston/Brighton Open Studios this weekend

November 13-14 from Noon - 6pm. More info at Allston/Brighton Open Studios

What Harvard Didn't Say Yesterday

A story about what we didn't learn yesterday from Harvard's Allston Work Team Co-chair Bill Purcell.

Allston Residents Question Harvard's Commitment to Science Complex | The Harvard Crimson:
Purcell said he could not provide a timeline for Harvard’s construction the Science Complex site, nor was he certain exactly what shape it would take,

Purcell did not say whether the site would still be used for science-related purposes.

“Is this [the Science Complex] still Harvard’s number one priority for development?” asked Allston Resident Michael Hanlon.

Purcell did not answer the question

Harvard student suggests Allston should keep out

The story sums up the meeting pretty well - HBS Lab Worries Allston Residents The Harvard Crimson

This comment on the Crimson website from "current student" also seems to be shared by others at Harvard, who haven't yet shown much interest in using this renovation as an opportunity to create a permeable campus along a Western Ave. Main Street.

'“Will [the lab] feel as though it is Harvard only—don’t come in unless you have an ID?” asked Task Force Member Brent Whelan. “Or will it feel like part of the community?”'

OF COURSE it is part of the university and you will need a harvard ID - it's a private university, not a community development NGO.

Harvard has a plan - What about one for A/B?

I'm looking forward to seeing many of you this evening at the Harvard Allston Task Force meeting (6pm at the Honan Library), and particularly because it has been so long since we've been together for a meeting like this, I thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts.

As I've been considering the current situation, I've realized that Harvard has a 1-year plan (to open a $20 million "Innovation Lab" in the former WGBH building at 125 Western Ave). Harvard also has a 3-year plan (to complete construction of Tata Hall, a $100 million Executive Education building on the HBS campus). Finally, Harvard is creating 5-year plans for each of its schools.

But North Allston-North Brighton does not have a 1-year plan and no consensus about land use, licensing, and leasing by Harvard and others. We have no 3-year plan, and no agreement on issues such as what will happen to the current Charlesview site after the new Charlesview is complete. And we don't have a 5-year plan either.

To be meaningful, these plans need the support of our community, Harvard, the BRA, our elected officials, and other stakeholders. Using the "SMART Goal" methodology - Specific / Measurable / Attainable / Resourced / Time-Bound - might also help make this an "action plan" instead of just a "plan".

We can sit back and wait until mid-2011 when Harvard's Allston Work Team will make its recommendations. Or we can wait until 2012 when Harvard is scheduled to submit a new Institutional Master Plan. I hope we will agree that our community has been waiting long enough and now is the time to move ahead.

I look forward to hearing your opinions on this today, tonight, and/or tomorrow.

LA production company opens $1.5m studio in the other LA

Quixote Studios, a Harvard tenant at 100 Holton Street, is featured in today's Globe.

Upcoming zoning hearings

1240 Soliders Field Road - Change the legal occupancy from offices to offices and clinical blood laboratory and related use.

38-40 Guest Street - Development of a retail home improvement and garden center with outdoor sale of garden supplies, erect rooftop solar panels, create off street, accessory parking for three hundred and eighty-seven vehicles and accessory loading spaces.

Yes, this is the Lowe's project that we thought was dead. Here is some more info from Dan Roan in the Mayor's Office:

Lowe's is going to the ZBA because they feel that the BRA's adequacy determination does not conform to the provisions that are stated in Article 80. Basically, they're asking the ZBA to force the BRA to reissue a new adequacy determination or if the ZBA believes that Lowe's has adequately satisfied the Article 80 requirements, simply grant relief for a conditional use.

Support Stone Hearth Pizza on Western Ave

Stone Hearth Pizza would like to open a restaurant in Harvard's former CITGO station on Western Ave. Personally, I think this would be great and a nice addition to the neighborhood. But the Allston Civic Association voted to oppose this at last night's meeting.

I can't imagine that the City would deny whatever permits and approvals that Stone Hearth needs, but if you want (or don't want) this business to open in Allston you can email: (A/B City Councilor) (A/B liasion to the Mayor) (community email group)

Harvard Crimson story -
Reaction at Universal Hub -

Date: Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 12:25 PM
Subject: support for a Stone Hearth Pizza on Western Ave
To: Mark Ciommo , Michael Galvin , Dan Roan ,
Cc:, Kevin McCluskey ,

I am writing to express my strong support for the proposed Stone Hearth
Pizza at the former CITGO station at 182 Western Ave. A successful, family-oriented, locally-owned, public-serving business like Stone Hearth is what Western Ave needs to move closer to becoming the "Main Street" that Harvard, the City, and many Allston/Brighton residents have agreed would improve our community.

At the same time, I would encourage Harvard, the City, and community to do some joint planning about the future of Western Ave. What hours of operation and what mix of uses (private/institutional, retail, food, alcohol-serving, etc) are desirable? Perhaps if we could reach some agreement on these subjects then we would be more likely to agree when specific projects & tenants are proposed.

Harry Mattison

New Harvard VP for capital planning

Harvard continues to centralize its planning and budgeting with the filling of this new position. Of note for those interested in Allston is this list of priorities that does not include any in Allston. With the exception of the two HBS projects that will probably break ground in 2012, it still seems like it will be a long time before Harvard does any Allston development of significant magnitude.

But significant projects are looming: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) urgently wants to renovate undergraduate Houses (at least a $1-billion project); several Harvard Medical School and FAS departments are space-constrained, as new laboratories have been filled to deal with the Allston deferral; and Harvard School of Public Health likely requires significant investment in its multibuilding campus, now that the idea of an entirely new school complex in Allston is indefinitely deferred. Alongside these items on the wish list, the campus facilities—some 26 million square feet—require regular maintenance and updating. And in the interest of maintaining its credit rating and preventing interest costs from soaring still further, Harvard has essentially put itself on a severe diet for debt financing, so hard choices will have to be made.

Congrats to Brighton's #1 Dahlias!

Brighton's Ed Perlmutter recently won first prize at the Topsfield Fair for his beautiful flowers. You don't need to live in the 'burbs or the country to grow prize winning flowers!

University building includes first floor retail

I was in New Haven yesterday and noticed that Yale's new 87,000 sq ft Loria Center for the History of Art includes a Willoughby's Coffee on the first floor. If Harvard does at least this much to improve the public realm with its renovation of the WGBH building it would be a good step toward building the new Western Ave.

Harvard's Western Ave Entrepreneurship Opportunity

We learned yesterday that Harvard will spend $15-20 million to renovate the former WGBH building at 125 Western Ave to create a center for entrepreneurs and innovators. That's a pretty major renovation for a building that the city appraised as being worth $9M. Given the state of the Science Complex, this will be the first project that Harvard will complete on Western Ave and may be the only construction on Western Ave for several years.

So what tone will this project set for Western Ave? The North Allston Strategic Framework and subsequent planning by Harvard, the City of Boston, and A/B residents has called for Western Ave to become a pedestrian-friendly, amenity-rich, lively and vibrant boulevard. Harvard reaffirmed this goal an April 2010 interview with The Crimson:

University Executive Vice President Katharine N. Lapp, who oversees Harvard’s expansion into Allston, said she and the faculty-led work team continue to use the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s 2005 document “North Allston: Strategic Framework for Planning” as a “guidepost.”

She specifically mentioned the plan to turn Western Avenue into the “main street” of the neighborhood.

Obviously that entire transformation can't happen with one building (though at 94,000 square feet, it is not an insignificant space). But if the transformation doesn't start now and with this project, when will it start?

In terms of programming, a relevant model to consider that I mentioned back in August could be Syracuse University's Enitiative and South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) programs. One interesting requirement that shows their local focus is that SSIC requires that entrepreneurs must be committed to business development on the South Side and neighboring communities. I wouldn't expect Harvard to require its innovators to develop businesses in Allston, but finding ways to encourage that sure would be a nice way to help revive our local economy and quality of life.

Another interesting program is the Syracuse Community Test Kitchen, a collaboration that includes Syracuse's Whitman School of Management. Considering the many restaurants in Allston and the challenges faced by these small business owners, here is a program that could have real relevance to our neighborhood too.

The Community Test Kitchen will support new and existing food entrepreneurs with training and guidance to commercialize home recipes. New Entrepreneurs will receive training in the areas of commercialization; from the development process of formulating scratch recipes into full scale-up production formulas, marketing, sales, and distribution. Existing Small Business Food Entrepreneurs in need of growing their business to the next level of profitability will be offered through a variety of business training programs and culinary product improvement Sessions.
The calendar of events at the SSIC shows the depth and extent of the community and university based programming that Syracuse is supporting.

There are other possibilities for physical changes and uses in and around the building that could set the tone for the permeable campus that Chris Gordon promised in 2007. Especially because Harvard is seeking approval for this project without any plan for its many acres of surrounding property, how Harvard chooses to move forward with this project will tell a lot about the future of this campus and community.

HBS gets $50M for Exec-Ed building

This new building will be on what is now the grass lawn between Kresge Hall and Soldiers Field Road. More interesting from a neighborhood standpoint in the renovation of 125 Western Ave (the former WGBH building) into a innovation & entrepreneurship laboratory.

Harvard Business School Receives $50 Million Gift From India's Tata Group - Bloomberg

Is Harvard proud of excluding the A/B community from today's "major announcement"?

Some may consider pride to be "the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins". But as we were reminded a couple weeks ago, Harvard is proud of the partnership that it thinks it has with the Allston/Brighton community.

A couple years ago, I wrote about how the Harvard/A-B relationship doesn't match any reasonable definition of partnership and unfortunately that truth is being reinforced by how Harvard and Boston's Mayor are announcing "major new economic development plans for the Allston-Brighton neighborhood" this afternoon.

This is not the first time that City Hall and Harvard have chosen to talk with the media about A/B before they talk to A/B residents. Just last week we learned from a Crimson story that Harvard would grant a request from A/B residents and allow them to meet with Harvard's Allston real estate consultants.

Maybe this afternoon's announcement will be great news - perhaps HBS will want to build a new building that, unlike the rest of its insular campus, does something to enliven both the HBS and A/B communities. Perhaps it will be the first step toward building the vibrant Western Ave that Harvard Professor Peter Galison and I hope to see. If it does, I will be the first to applaud.

But it is too bad that Harvard and City Hall didn't want to give any public notice about the time & place of today's press conference. Also too bad that they didn't want to give any public notice and didn't want any A/B residents to be at the event. It wouldn't be hard for Harvard and the Mayor to make this announcement at a public meeting in the evening when more A/B residents would be able to attend, ask questions, and maybe feel like we really are "partners".

Unfortunately John, I don't think Harvard yet really wants to change.
Thursday, October 14th, 2:00 PM
Mayor Menino will join Harvard Business School to announce major new economic development plans for the Allston-Brighton neighborhood.

Cambridge St to get bike lanes btw St E's & Union Sq

Bike lanes coming to one-mile stretch of Cambridge Street - Allston Brighton - Your Town -

Crimson story on yesterday's Harvard coffee hour

Nice to learn from this article that Harvard has agreed to let their Allston consultants meet with some Allston residents. During yesterday's meeting Purcell was steadfastly non-comittal after repeated requests for some community engagement with these experts. Glad that after further consideration Harvard realized that a little conversation would be OK.

Residents Ask Purcell for Greater Role in Harvard's Allston Development Decisions The Harvard Crimson

To help the state grow, Harvard could stop landbanking

The prolific Harvard economics professor Edward Glaeser wrote in yesterday's Globe about how the success of Massachusetts is being held back by a housing shortage.

Of course, Harvard could help make progress in this area by building hundreds of new units of housing on its under-utilized property in Allston and Brighton. The BRA, Harvard, and Allston/Brighton residents have all agreed to this in principle, but getting Harvard to follow through has proved elusive (the 10 units to be built on the Brookline Machine site will nice, but 10 units is pretty paltry when compared with the scope of Harvard's landbank and the extent of the need for more housing).

To grow, the state needs 40B - The Boston Globe
If our economy is so dynamic, why aren’t more people moving here?

The simple answer is that we don’t build enough homes. There is essentially a one-to-one correspondence between the population growth of a region and the amount of new construction. Massachusetts’s cold climate matters, but the tendency of people to move to warmer climes also reflects the affordable housing that comes from unfettered construction in places like Houston and Phoenix.

A college president plans to revitalize a neighborhood

Drexel's new president outlines plan to revitalize neighborhood | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/06/2010

Drexel University's new president, John A. Fry, on Tuesday outlined a five-point plan to improve the neighborhood, including an expanded safety-patrol zone and a loan forgiveness program for employees who buy homes in the area.

In his first major address to the university community, Fry also pledged expertise and fund-raising support for the area's public elementary school and an effort to improve the business district along Lancaster Avenue.

Harvard hires consultants for Allston

I guess it is nice that Harvard seems to be doing some thinking about its Allston empire, but we could probably do without the gross exaggerations like - "the considerations of the community are a very important part of what’s been done in Allston"

To Help Plan Allston's Future, Harvard Hires Two Consulting Firms The Harvard Crimson

Harvard has hired two real estate consulting firms, Leggat McCall and McCall & Almy, to help formulate a blueprint for the University’s future development in Allston, but there remains no clear time line or concrete plan for the expansion at this point.

A/B in the news today

The Dorchester Reporter suggests that A/B City Councilor Mark Ciommo could be the next City Council President.

The Herald reviews the various development and planning projects that are happening (or not happening) in the neighborhood.

New Harvard Allston plans "middle of next year"

Debt forces Harvard back to drawing board - The Boston Globe
"Little wonder that Harvard’s Allston science facility project, once pegged as high as $1.4 billion, was halted in early 2009 and is now back to the drawing board in terms of scale and scope. The university has told its bond raters it won’t borrow more than a total of $1 billion over the next three years, including projects that are already underway. Faust indicated that new plans for Allston will be presented by the middle of next year, and the university may need investment partners."

Speedway One of Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources

The Speedway buildings, which blight the western end of Western Ave, have been named one of Massachusetts’ most endangered historic resources by Preservation Massachusetts. It would be great if this newfound attention can lead to restoration and some new development at the site. Some of us thought something might happen back in 2006, and hope springs eternal.

Preservation Massachusetts » Massachusetts’ Most Endangered Historic Resources

In a stealth race against time - The Boston Globe

Vague Faust reveals nothing about Allston

Drew Faust sat down yesterday with Charlie Gibson (a Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard for this year) for her opening-year dialogue. Here are the Allston-relevant excerpts from a couple sources:

Gibson Grills Drew Faust, Gets Few Details The Harvard Crimson

Gibson, the veteran ABC journalist and a current fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, pressed Faust on how she planned to recalibrate the University’s Allston expansion, but few details were in the offing.

Faust floated several ideas for how the University would proceed on the issue—including potentially co-developing the real-estate—but provided no specifics on the billion dollar construction project’s future.

“[Those properties] are going to be Harvard’s future, but it’s a future that is going to come much more slowly,” Faust said.

Gibson seemed frustrated at times with Faust’s lack of specifics, but in interviews this year, University administrators have been consistently deferring questions regarding the future of the expansion to a series of committees that have been set up to examine potential next steps.
President Faust on Finances, Scientific Misconduct, the Martin Peretz-Muslim Furor, and More

On campus development, Faust said Allston “is critical to the future of Harvard”—but visions for academic use would be realized “much more slowly” because of the financial crash. She insisted that the University now has no timetable for development, and is, as reported, emphasizing leasing of properties it has bought; community amenities; and explorations of options including commercial co-development—part of a broader “re-envisioning” that might yield a lively mixed-use community of academic, institutional, and private investors during the next 50 years.

Tim Flaherty wants a recount (again)

Back in April after the special election to fill our State Senate seat, Tim Flaherty narrowly lost and then asked for a recount. Then he changed his mind and decided to let the results stand. Now, after another close loss, Tim has decided again that he wants votes recounted.

Will Allston be Florida or New York?

For the foreseeable future, Allston will be neither, but this month’s installment of New Yorker Currents raises important issues about green architecture and green commuting. Someday, if Harvard ever brings back its ideas to bring 10,000 additional people to North Allston every day, this question will deserve careful consideration.

During the review of Harvard's Allston Science complex, the topic of how people get to work got some hand-waving about bikes and shuttle buses, but with the exception of North Harvard Street bike lanes we've never seen much action or specific planning about improving the "roots of the city" on a magnitude needed to handle this massive increase in demand.

Currents: Richard Cook on Sustainable Architecture : The New Yorker
Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker’s architecture critic, spoke with Richard Cook, a partner in Cook+Fox Architects and the designer of the new Bank of America Tower, a Manhattan skyscraper, completed earlier this year, that is the largest building to receive a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, the highest standard set by the U.S. Green Building Council.
23 minutes into the interview they talk about how people get to work and how transportation in cities allows for huge energy savings:
  • In an urban setting, the people who work in a building use 1/20th the energy and have 1/20th the carbon production because people use mass transit when compared to a suburban office setting.

  • The Bank of America tower is a 2.2 million sq ft tower without a single parking space in the building.

  • Hybrid cars are not the answer - mass transit is (a subway car in New York rush hour gets 540 passenger miles per gallon.

It's Park(ing) Day

If you are in the Harvard Ave / Brighton Ave neighborhood today, stop by to check out the conversion of this parking space into a green oasis

Another close State Senate election

State Senate - Middlesex, Suffolk & Essex - 2010 Primary Results - Massachusetts -
No results yet from Chelsea, but in the meantime Sal DiDomenico is leading Tim Flaherty 6,288 to 6,118

After whetting city’s appetite, Harvard delivers a McDonald’s - The Boston Globe

Nice editorial in today's Globe, pretty well summing up the situation on Western Ave.

After whetting city’s appetite, Harvard delivers a McDonald’s - The Boston Globe

Vote today

Stop by your polling site and be a good citizen! Vote in today's primary election for several state offices today including State Senate, State Rep, State Auditor, and State Treasurer.

My comments on the Charlesview PDA Amendment

September 13, 2010

Jay Rourke
Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201-1007

Mr. Rourke,

For years, the Chief Planners of the City of Boston and Harvard's Allston Development have supported multi-story new construction on Western Avenue as essential to the future of North Brighton and North Allston.
On May 27, 2009, Boston's Chief Planner Kairos Shen presented the North Allston / North Brighton Community Wide Plan (CWP) for future construction on Western Ave. For the site of the First Amendment to Charlesview Planned Development Area, Mr. Shen stated that new buildings should be 4-6 stories tall.
The building proposed in the PDA Amendment is 1 story tall. Article 80 requires that a PDA "conforms to the plan for the district, subdistrict, or similar geographic area in which the Planned Development Area is located." Because the proposed 1 story building does not conform to the CWP, I oppose this Amendment to the PDA and it would be inappropriate for the BRA to approve it.
On June 10, 2009, Harvard's Allston Chief Planner Kathy Spiegelman recognized that land including the site of the First Amendment to Charlesview Planned Development Area presented "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." Unfortunately, Harvard and the BRA chose to plan the PDA Amendment in a piecemeal, not comprehensive, approach. The planning for this amendment was also, unfortunately, done without including residents of the Allston/Brighton neighborhood.

Ms. Spiegelman also noted that "The densities and land uses presented [in the Kairos Shen May 27 plan] may not create enough value to support the amount of public infrastructure and open space represented in this alternative." Given that Harvard is now supporting new construction with a density much lower than the Kairos Shen May 27 plan, it creates grave doubt about Harvard's support for the development of the thriving community envisioned by Mr. Shen's CWP.

During the review of the Charlesview PDA in 2009, the BRA was well aware of the need to resolve the McDonald's site. Members of the Boston Civic Design Commission and Allston/Brighton residents attempted to integrate the planning for the Charlesview residences and the McDonald's site, but the BRA did not allow this discussion. That the BRA is now considering the McDonald's site in an amendment to the PDA, raises concerns that the BRA is segmenting the review and evading Article 80's requirements for a clear and predictable review "to protect and enhance urban design quality; to encourage the most appropriate use of land; to improve the overall quality of development...and to maintain and improve a healthy economy by augmenting the City's attractiveness as a place to live, to conduct business and to visit."

Harry Mattison
28 Mansfield St
Allston 02134

To reach me by phone, please use my new Google Voice number: (774) 277-9678 adds A/B site has just launched! Contribute a story idea, post an event, or start a discussion, and hopefully this site will become a great resource for our community.

Harvard claims Brighton Mills isn't sufficiently accessible

Proposal to Move McDonalds Still Upsets Allston Residents The Harvard Crimson

“The proposal will bring Charlesview residents closer to the day when they will enjoy new and improved housing,” wrote University spokeswoman Lauren M. Marshall in an e-mailed statement last month. She noted that moving McDonald’s is a preparatory step in the process of building the new Charlesview residence because it will make the new location more accessible.


The new Charlesview location doesn't need any "preparatory" steps to become more accessible. This may sound good to the Crimson readers in Cambridge who don't know anything about the Brighton Mills Shopping Center, but it doesn't make much of any sense to those of us familiar with the reality there.

Brighton Mills and the future Charlesview site already has access from Western Ave (at 3 locations), Everett St, Holton St (2 locations), and Litchfield St. Harvard has abundant empty and under-utilized land in the immediate vicinity for construction activities and I can't imagine how a new McDonald's a few yards from its current location is a preparatory step for anything other than making sure that Western Ave continues to fall far short of its potential.

To the contrary, not building a new McDonald's at Brighton Mills would bring the Charlesview residents even closer to enjoying their new housing because there would not be McDonald's construction getting in the way of the Charlesview construction.

Brazilian Festival - Sunday @ Herter Park

"Eventually" Harvard will garden in Allston

They've been thinking about it for 3+ years, and someday it might actually happen.
"Eventually, Harvard plans to plant a 1 acre garden across the river in Allston,
she said."

Crimson suggests Allston reevaluation

The Year Ahead The Harvard Crimson

The indefinite postponement of the Allston Science Complex’s construction likewise merits reevaluation. If Harvard wishes to remain at the forefront of future research and innovation, it cannot hesitate to move forward, even in the close wake of economic adversity. Doing so is part of what it means to lead.

How much can change in 5 years

While doing some housecleaning I found a copy of this 8-page 11x14" mailing sent by Harvard to probably thousands of Allston and Brighton residents back in 2005. Before it ended up in the recycling bin, it seemed worthy of being preserved as a PDF for future reference and as a reminder for what was to have been.

Planners Chart Ideas For Harvard In Allston - 2005

Fixing the Charles River bridges

Great interview with Jackie Douglas from LivableStreets about their Better Bridges campaign which could bring great improvements to our quality of life in Allston and beyond.

On Biking: Fixing the Charles River bridges for bikers - Brookline - Your Town -

Thanks to BU students

A big thank you to the Boston University students who volunteered last Saturday morning to help clean up the Everett St Slope!
It is always great to meet more neighbors who care about our community and are willing to give some time to help improve it.

Crimson story about Harvard's plan to sabotage the future of Western Ave

Allston Residents Concerned Over McDonald's Relocation -

"McDonald’s long-term lease guarantees the corporation’s property rights to its
Western Avenue location, according to [BRA spokesperson Jessica] Shumaker."

Dear Ms. Shumaker and anyone else using this "McDonald's Property Rights" rationale:

The City and Harvard could negotiate a reasonable price for the City to use its right of eminent domain to take the land needed for the extension of Telford Street. Maybe, in light of its impact on Allston and Brighton and its desire to help Western Ave someday gain the density needed to be a viable Main Street, Harvard would agree to allow the taking for $1 or 2.

McDonald's, as a tenant, would have no ability to veto this agreement between Harvard (the landowner) and the City. Maybe then McDonald's would be willing to continue doing business in their exisiting building and reconfigure their parking and drive-thru so it can remain a "fixture on Western Ave."

The Construction that Harvard hasn't stopped

BBJ takes a look at the Law School and Museum projects that continue at Harvard.

Education construction jobs a lesson in economy - Boston Business Journal

Endorsements in the State Senate race

Barrios endorses Flaherty for his former state Senate seat - Cambridge, Massachusetts - Cambridge Chronicle

Former state Sen. Jarrett Barrios is expected to announce his endorsement of Democratic state Senate candidate Tim Flaherty in the upcoming Sept. 14 primary.

Sal DiDomenico said his campaign has received the "progressive" endorsements of Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) and Rep. Carl Sciortino

Another idea for Harvard's empty A/B property

How about an "Allston Free Store"? Especially with many people about to move in and out of the neighborhood it would seem like there would be no shortage of people giving and taking.

In Brooklyn Store, Everything’s Always 100% Off -

Upcoming zoning hearing

50 Gardner St - Change the legal occupancy from a one-family dwelling to a lodging house.
More info at

McDonald’s redevelopment rankles Allston-Brighton neighbors -

Story in today's Herald about Harvard's proposal for a new McDonald's at Brighton Mills.

The quotes from Harvard and the BRA manage to avoid the issue that concerns many neighbors and that contradicts years of Harvard/BRA/community planning - to create jobs and economic and civic life on Western Ave, new construction should be multi-story mixed-use buildings, not one-story detached buildings like the proposed new McDonald's.

Support Habitat For Humanity - Warehouse Sale This Weekend

This Friday-Sunday Harvard Habitat for Humanity is holding a Community Warehouse Sale at Habitat's warehouse in Allston.

Warehouse Sale
224 Western Ave (former Verizon building across from Smith Field)
Allston, MA 02134

Glassware, dishware, household appliances, books, new and used designer clothing, refurbished computers, select furniture items
At least 40% off retail prices
Automatic 10% discount on purchases over $200 (excluding computers)

August 13-14: 10am-5pm
August 15: Noon-5pm
Proceeds benefit Harvard Habitat for Humanity

Maybe the Cambridge St overpass sidewalk will finally get fixed

Crumbling Allston Sidewalk Creating A Danger

Harvard offers Brighton a new McDonald's - Meeting on Thursday

During the past several years, Harvard and the Boston Redevelopment Authority have explained to the residents of North Allston and North Brighton that our main street, Western Ave, needs new development much taller and denser that the one-story buildings that are currently on Western Ave.

Many residents, who support a future for our neighborhood that includes more jobs, more opportunities for small businesses, and an improved 21st century community, have supported these plans while also stressing the need for transportation improvements and respect for residents who live on or near Western Ave.

Harvard University also spoke in support of multi-story new development, most recently and specifically in this June 2009 presentation.

So how surprising that Harvard is now proposing to build a new, one-story, free-standing McDonald's fast food restaurant on Western Ave. Their proposal would demolish the existing Brighton Mills McD's and build a new one just a few yards closer to Petco.

Some modification to the existing McDonald's building or parking/drive-thru area is needed to conform with the Charlesview plans to build new housing at the KMart/OfficeMax site. But this does not need to block the development that our community needs to breath some new economic life into our neighborhood.

Interested in learning more? Please attend the community meeting on Thursday at 6:30pm at the Honan Library (300 North Harvard St).

Cyclist is killed by a car in Brighton

Please be careful out there on bike, foot, and car!

Cyclist is killed by a car in Brighton - The Boston Globe

Syracuse U. Supports the Rebirth of a City

While Harvard's Allston Work Team continues to search for a tenant to fill Harvard's vacant CITGO station, the Syracuse U. is helping build a stronger Syracuse , as described in today's NY Times.

Rebirth of a City - Opinionator Blog -

Syracuse has been particularly attractive to people like Mr. Destito thanks to a forward-thinking coalition that includes Mayor Stephanie Miner; Nancy Cantor, the chancellor and president of Syracuse University; Joanie Mahoney, the executive of Onondaga County; and a mix of neighborhood groups and business associations. The university has bought empty industrial buildings and renovated them, using some of the space for programs and renting out the rest.

From "Syracuse as Anchor Institution"

Neighborhood and Cultural Entrepreneurship
The entrepreneurs who will drive economic growth and job creation through the 21st century increasingly will come from our cities, from groups whose talents have gone largely untapped. SU is catalyzing communities of experts locally, nationally, and globally to tap that talent, as evident in the following projects.
South Side Innovation Center
Near West Side Initiative
South Side Initiative

Deep Ellum in the NYT

Congrats to Union Square's Deep Ellum for making the New York Times "36 Hours in Boston"
Beer lovers, on the other hand, should head to Deep Ellum in Allston (477 Cambridge Street; 617-787-2337;, an elegant pub with 28 taps that regularly rotate with Massachusetts breweries like Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project.

Upcoming zoning & licensing hearings
  • Bluestone Bistro - 1799 Commonwealth Avenue
  • Pizza Days, Inc. 111 Brighton Avenue
  • Darbar Restaurant - 130 North Beacon Street
  • 157-171 Brighton Avenue
  • 82 Academy Hill Road
  • 50 Chestnut Hill Avenue
  • 49-51 Cushman Road

Wednesday ABNNF meeting

ABNNF is getting together on Wednesday, August 3 at 7:00 to prepare for a couple upcoming meetings:
  • Harvard's August 5 "coffee hour" with Bill Purcell and Kathy Spiegelman (8-9am @ 175 North Harvard St)
  • The BRA's meeting about the Brighton Mills McDonald's on August 12 (6:30PM @ the Honan Library)
Our Wednesday meeting is at 102 Litchfield St, home of Tim and Jane McHale. Hope you can join us.

Kudos to PSF!

Brighton community center begins to take shape - The Boston Globe

RCN Internet down

Don't know how many people are affected, but RCN has confirmed an Internet outage in the area.

Maybe "complete" was a poor choice of words

Harvard University Allston Initiative - Construction Mitigation - Science Complex Project Updates

"The work required to pause the Harvard Allston Science Complex Project has been completed."
That sounds more accurate. Have a nice weekend!

Behnisch's Yale lab heals rifts with community

New Haven Lab Is an Architectural Experiment -

As the Journal notes, the Behnisch-designed $1 billion Allston Science Complex for Harvard is currently on hold (despite the construction management team describing it as "complete"), so in the meantime it is interesting to learn about this Behnisch-designed lab in New Haven that is "a quite visible attempt to heal longstanding physical and psychological rifts in the surrounding community."

It is not a co-developed structure, but it is a twist on the typical "university as owner and developer" model, as the 146,000-square-foot building was privately developed by Fusco Corp. and leased to Yale-New Haven Hospital and the privately owned building will contribute more than $1.1 million in taxes to New Haven.

And the WSJ story ends with a paragraph that could be another parallel to the situation on Western Ave.

Considering the site was a 25-foot hole in the ground for decades, the Park Street Clinical Laboratory is an entirely new and welcome experience for New Haven. "What had been a gash in the city is now a stepping stone," Mr. Svigals said. "It shows the hospital extending a hand to the community."

Harvard Completes the Science Complex!

At least according to

What's in bloom on the Everett St Slope?


Thanks for the help pulling weeds yesterday and, for the sake of the plants, hopefully we will get more than a sprinkle of rain this morning.

Everett Street slope weeding & cleanup - Wednesday @ 6:00

The Everett Street Slope is looking much better, thanks to the efforts of neighbors who helped weed, water, and clean up earlier this month. Some of us will be meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6:00 between Lincoln and Adamson streets to keep up the good work.

Hope you can join us.

Bike/Ped bridge underpasses on Cape Cod

Last month while on Cape Cod I had the pleasure of biking on the Cape Cod Rail Trail for the first time. It was clean, safe, beautiful, and welcoming to people walking, biking, and riding skateboards at speeds from 1 to 20 mph. Birds, rabbits, and turtles were on or near the path, adding nicely the connection with the natural world.

An enjoyable engineering feature was the underpasses that allowed travelers on the rail trail to continue their voyages without having to cross the busy roads above.

I have no idea how much money it cost to build these underpasses on Cape Cod, and I have no idea how much it would cost to add underpasses to the Charles River bridges that connect Allston and Cambridge and will soon get their once-in-a-lifetime reconstructions. But at the very least it seems reasonable to have a public and open discussion with MassDOT, DCR, and other interested parties about the cost, the design, and how underpasses might, or might not, improve the Anderson, Western Ave, and River Street bridges.

Upcoming zoning hearings

8-6 Wiltshire Road, 135 Market Street, 2193-2201 Commonwealth Avenue, 60 Dunboy Street, 3-5 Duval Street

If you like sushi...

then I highly recommend a trip to Fish Market on Brighton Ave for lunch or dinner. My wife and I ate there soon after it opened a while back and thought it was good, but not great. We went there again this past weekend and were wowed by how great it was! Imaginative, fresh, beautiful, and delicious food, all at a reasonable price for sushi. The crazy eggplant maki, jalapeno twister, and crispy crab maki were some of our many favorites.

(They do not have a liquor license, so BYOB just like Pho Pasteur in the old days)

Upcoming zoning hearings

11 Sparhawk Street - Side Yard & Rear yard Insufficient
11A-11C Sparhawk Street - Lot Frontage, Front, Side Yard & Rear yard Insufficient
458-460 Western Avenue (Boyne Pub) - Erect a outdoor patio for seasonal seating for patrons.

MassDOT bridge meeting this afternoon

In case you might be downtown with a free hour this afternoon, MassDOT is hosting a meeting about the reconstruction of bridges including the 3 bridges that connect Allston and Cambridge.

More info at:

MassDOT Public Meeting for Highway Division District 6 Bridge Projects

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
4:00 - 5:30 PM
State Transportation Building
MBTA Conference Room
10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

Thanks for Lincoln St cleanup!

Thanks to the work crew whose efforts today made the Lincoln St Green Strip look much better!

Everett St weeding & clean-up - Tuesday @ 6

Thankfully we don't need to water the plants on the Everett St slope
this week (and I hope your basement was drier than mine on Saturday)
but it would be great to continue the weeding and general clean-up
that we've done the past couple weeks.

We will meet from 6-8pm on Tuesday between Adamson and Lincoln Streets
and hope you can join us.


A nice story in today's Globe about the turn-around of Roslindale Square and reminder that concentrated physical improvements on Western Ave (possibly at the CITGO station @ surrounding properties today, Harvard's old Verizon warehouse in the near future, the current Charlesview site in a few years after its residents have moved...) and creative programming (like the free summer concerts in Roslindale's Adams Park) could make a big difference.
"Renewal can take place, even in the city’s neediest commercial areas. But only in finite steps."

Cheaper to lease than build the Science Complex

A large bio-tech company is going to expand in the Boston area. Should it join with Harvard to co-develop Harvard's Science Complex on Western Ave, or should it lease space in some buildings that are already built? Based on the data in this Globe story, it is a pretty easy choice.

Harvard's billion-dollar 589,000-square-foot complex was to be home to approximately 1,000 employees. Spending a billion to make lab space for 1,000 is $1M per person and $1,700 per square foot.

If Sanofi is leasing 112,000 square feet for $65M, that's $580 per square foot. (Globe story does not provide the length of the lease).

Now there are a whole bunch of assumptions and unknowns about both of these projects, but the conclusion seems valid. Finishing the Science Complex as previously designed will probably cost more like $650M than $65M. But in the current real-estate market, a "drug giant" need only spend the latter to achieve a major expansion.

Thinking about it this way supports my expectation that whatever Harvard and any partners will build on the Science Complex foundation will be much simpler and cheaper than what was previously designed. And leasing space in existing buildings will have to get much more expensive before it makes financial sense to build something new.

Another drug giant bringing jobs to Mass. - The Boston Globe

One of the world’s largest drug makers, Sanofi-Aventis SA, is planning a $65 million expansion in Cambridge that will create about 300 jobs...

Sanofi-Aventis has nearly 400 workers in Massachusetts, including 160 in Cambridge...

It has sublet 30,000 square feet of space elsewhere in Cambridge, but is now close to leasing 112,000 square feet at 640 Memorial Drive, an MIT-owned building aimed at life sciences companies, for the new division headquarters.