The Phoenix reviews Stone Hearth Pizza

On the Cheap: Stone Hearth Pizza - On The Cheap:

"There is no shortage of pizza joints in the greater Boston area, that's for damn sure. But Stone Hearth Pizza —with locations in Cambridge, Needham, Belmont, and, as of a few weeks ago, Lower Allston — is the front-runner for guilt-free, locally sourced pizza pies."

Congrats to Rep Moran on his new leadership role

"Via @statehousenews, House leadership changes: Rep. Rushing to whip, Moran to division chair and Michlewitz as Elex Laws chair "

An Allston Pledge for Harvard

Harvard created a "Kindness Pledge" for freshmen and an "MBA Oath" for business school graduates. In my article on page 10 of this Occupy Harvard publication I ask what Harvard might say in an "Allston Pledge".

State Senate Candidates Forum for the Second Suffolk & Middlesex district

Thursday, December 8

6:00 pm    Meet-and-Greet with the candidates & light refreshments (contributed by Athan's)
6:30 pm    Candidates Forum

Elks Lodge, 326 Washington Street, Brighton Center, parking at rear of building (enter lot from Winship Street)

Sponsor:    Brighton Allston Improvement Association

Moderator:    Michael Pahre, Editor, Brighton Centered Blog

On Tuesday, December 13, a special election will be held to fill the state senate seat vacated by Steve Tolman in the Second Suffolk & Middlesex district, which includes most of Allston and Brighton, parts of the Back Bay, Fenway and Cambridge, and all of Watertown and Belmont.  Join us to meet the candidates!

To check if you live in this district, visit

Residential booming in Boston, but Harvard is quiet

The Globe reported yesterday on 5 new residential projects that would combine to create more than 1,400 new units of housing in Boston.

Two months ago Harvard seemed eager to move ahead with planning for new housing in Barry's Corner, and their consultant mentioned having more public meetings in October. But October came and went with no meetings and no news about how Harvard plans to proceed. Which is too bad, because if done right new housing and retail in Barry's Corner could be a great improvement to the area.
Another wave of apartment construction to hit Boston - The Boston Globe
Investors in multifamily housing developments are taking advantage of a fortuitous turn of events: rising rents, low vacancy rates, and interest rates below 4 percent - a combination that translates to unusually hefty profits.
"There has never been a better time in the last 40 years to develop a multifamily project in Boston" said George Fantini, chairman of the mortgage banking firm Fantini & Gorga.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other city officials said they are receiving proposals for new housing projects every day. “I have investors coming to me and saying, ‘What opportunities do you have? How can we be involved?’ ’’ Menino said. “I haven’t seen that in a while.’’

Renting To Four Or More College Students Is Illegal

A recent court ruling could have a significant impact on off-campus student housing in Allston, Brighton, and across the state.

The Toga Party Is Over: Renting To Four Or More College Students Is Illegal Lodging House | The Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog
"...the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that renting to 4 or more unrelated students in one apartment unit is an illegal “lodging house” unless a special license is obtained.

...using the College Hill ruling, housing authorities, who want to crack down on unruly, crowded apartment dwellers, may seek to require lodging licenses for apartments occupied by 4 or more unrelated persons."

Yet another possibility for Harvard's vacant Allston land

I agree the the Mayor and others quoted in this story that kids on skateboarders shouldn't be messing up fancy granite fountains. So how about find some more appropriate place, like maybe on some of Harvard's property that is just sitting vacant?

Rondo, Pierce & friends coming to Allston

Rondo Hosts Boston Charity Classic Basketball Game:

Rajon Rondo will host the ”Boston Charity Classic” this Saturday at 6pm ET, with proceeds benefitting local Boston charities providing holiday meals and support to families in the Boston area.

Scheduled participants in the game include Rondo, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Josh Smith, Kendrick Perkins, Rudy Gay, Leon Powe, Jeff Green, Kevin Durant, JaJuan Johnson, Jeremy Lin and Kyle Lowry among others.

Tickets will be available to the public on Tuesday, November 15th and can be purchased through the Harvard Athletics Box office either in person or via phone (65 North Harvard St. Boston, MA 02163 – 617.495.2211). Box office hours are 9:00am-5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Tickets are $50 for general admission, $100 for courtside seating, and parking is $10 at the arena.

Ed Portal expands into expiring space

Seems strange that Harvard is spending money to renovate a building that is supposed to be demolished in a couple years to build graduate student housing in Barry's Corner.

Ed Portal Builds New Annex | News | The Harvard Crimson:

Today's Callie Crossley Show

The Callie Crossley Show today featured an interview with two Harvard professors who would like to see researchers at Harvard and other Boston-area universities focus more of their research on issues directly relevant to the city.
"We kick off WGBH's "Where We Live" series with the city-university connection. Boston is home to some of the world's best research institutions and leading experts on urban issues such as poverty and crime. Though Boston is the perfect place to study societal issues, the city's scholars usually go outside greater Boston—opting to study cities like Lagos or Los Angeles. A new initiative out of Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute is aiming to change this. The goal is to have our universities collaborate with city officials to examine how the city works, how it fails, and the policy changes that can make this a better place to live."

Harvard School of Public Health Ponders Allston

If Harvard is still considering which schools might occupy the Science Complex on Western Ave, it will be many years before those decisions will be made, the planning completed, the buildings redesigned, and construction resumed.

School of Public Health Looks to Expand in Allston | News | The Harvard Crimson

With the recent approval of the Harvard Allston Work Team’s recommendations for Allston, the School of Public Health may now have a renewed hope for moving to the site of the formerly-planned Allston Science Complex....

Just as when Bloom was dean, those who work at the School of Public Health are divided on the possibility of moving to Allston.
But moving into Allston is not without its complications. The School of Public Health has had a presence in Longwood since 1913 and its own building in the area since 1923, a history that faculty members say complicates the possibility of moving.

Dockery says that, over the years, the School of Public Health has also developed “very strong connections” with the neighboring Medical School.

“I think we’re torn,” he says.

Professor Alberto Ascherio expressed a similar opinion in an email.

“Because of our close connections with the Harvard Medical School, I would prefer to remain in the medical area,” Ascherio wrote.

Kudos to Ray for the Well-Deserved Honor

Allston Park Renamed After Resident | News | The Harvard Crimson

Farm the Yard (or Allston)

Bill McKibben, a Harvard alum and founder of the climate change advocacy organization, revives the idea of having Harvard students do some agricultural labor.

Farm the Yard | Harvard Magazine Sep-Oct 2011: "If college is about supplying what’s missing, then it’s time to dig up a good chunk of the Yard and plant a garden."

While it is hard to envision more than a small "demonstration garden" in Harvard Yard, the Allston Farm is one of many interesting ideas for Harvard's underutilized land that is still waiting to come to life. Most of the field behind the Honan Library is now being put to good use as Library Park, but there is still a decent sized strip of field fenced off and unused along the park's north side. Or maybe it could go next to the Business School in a few years when Harvard tears down the old Charlesview.

If Harvard's brains thought more about Boston

Nice column in the Globe about how Harvard and other Boston-area universities might take more interest in what is happening here in their backyard.

Why don’t Boston’s great professors study Boston? - Ideas - The Boston Globe
“If you had 2 to 3 percent of the Harvard faculty being involved in Boston,” said Winship, “that would be a sea change.”

David Manfredi plans Kendall Sq

Harvard is bringing David Manfredi to Allston to plan Barry's Corner, which makes it interesting to look at his ideas for nearby Kendall Square (starts at slide 13).

The goals he identifies are:
• create places that expand the public realm and become a “common ground”
• respect the historic grid and scale of streets
• make more and better connections between community, commercial and academic land uses
• provide building opportunities for innovation tenants
• contribute to an integrated mix of uses in the district
• establish a prominent, welcoming new gateway to the Institute (MIT)

Crimson writes about the past and future of Barry's Corner

After Troubled Past, Barry's Corner in Allston Poised for Development | News | The Harvard Crimson:

Glavin going to Somerville

Somerville lures top Boston staffer for planning post - Somerville - Your Town -

"Somerville is home to some of the most exciting urban development zones anywhere," Glavin said in a statement. "The city is ideally located within the Boston metropolitan marketplace and, with the Orange and Green lines on the near horizon, it has the opportunity to be a national model for how dynamic a city can be."

Biking For Everyone workshop - October 4

Glavin leaving the BRA

Four years ago Michael Glavin became the Boston Redevelopment Authority's Deputy Director for Institutional Development. Last night he announced that he is leaving the BRA in October. No information was provided as to who would replace him as Harvard accelerates its activity in Allston.

Crimson story on last night's Task Force meeting

Allston Residents Dissatisfied with City's Role in Planning | News | The Harvard Crimson
"Members said that the BRA has underrepresented the community and left them lost about whom to turn to for community support.

“It’s always been to me about how businesses, institutions, and the city can work together to make a better neighborhood,” Houghton said. “I don’t have any convincing feel that this process does that at all.”

Ray Mellone, chair of the task force, echoed Houghton’s sentiments.

“I cannot see how we can do our job of reporting to the community without any control over the situation,” Mellone said.

Google invests in the new Charlesview

Affordable housing investment in Allston clicks for Google - Business - The Boston Globe:
“We want to be responsible corporate citizens, and that’s what drove us to invest, but the returns are also quite good considering the risk,’’ said Axel Martinez, an assistant treasurer for Google. “Charlesview is one of the places where we were able to add value, when in the past projects like that wouldn’t have gotten done.’’
MassHousing is providing a series of loans for the Charlesview project, along with $72 million in financing from Harvard University and the $28 million from Google, which stepped up its investments in low-income housing in 2010, when the prices of tax credits were between 60 and 70 cents on the dollar."

Boston Public Schools MCAS results has the newly-release MCAS results for all Boston schools here.

What kind of Barry's Corner does Harvard want?

Harvard gets mixed grades -

Allston neighbors worried that their concerns would be steamrolled as Harvard University announced plans to jumpstart its campus expansion yesterday, but others were happy to hear that work on the $1 billion health and life science center and other projects was getting started again."

Harvard schedules construction on Allston campus - The Boston Globe

Harvard officials did not disclose any details about the cost, size, or scope of the project at Barry’s Corner, apparently sensitive that discussing any such components would trump the public process and upset neighbors.
Allston resident Harry Mattison said he is concerned the development will house too many graduate students and not enough families, young professionals, and older residents.

“Is this going to be about making a neighborhood for all walks of life, or is it 150 beds for men and women in their early 20s who have a better idea of what’s fun to do at 2 in the morning,’’ Mattison said. “We want a real sense of place where there’s activity so people will say on a Sunday, ‘Let’s go down to Barry’s Corner and walk around for awhile.’ ’’

Harvard has said only that the complex will include rental housing for “Harvard graduate students, visiting scholars, faculty members, and others’’ and that it will be combined with “retail facilities and amenities’’ for the neighborhood.

Harvard Crimson writes that Allston Residents Feel Disconnected

Allston Residents Feel Disconnected | News | The Harvard Crimson:
"...But Allston residents say these initiatives are not enough. They complain that direct communication with Harvard has never existed, even before McCluskey’s departure, and they criticize the University for not working side-by-side with community members."

Harvard ready for Tata Hall approval - Not ready to respond to the public

At the BRA Board meeting tomorrow afternoon, Harvard will be seeking (and I expect will be given) final approval by the BRA to proceed with the $100 million Tata Hall building at its business school.

During the BRA's comment period for this project that ended last week, comment letters were submitted that were generally supportive of the project and at the same time suggested how the project could be improved, how Harvard could mitigate the project's impacts and make good on past promises, and requested reasonable information about its impacts. See page 2 in this document for a letter from the Charles River Watershed Association, page 5 for one from Cathi Campbell on behalf of the State-appointed Citizens Advisory Committee, page 16 for one by John McQueen, and page 20 for one from the Allston neighbors who serve on the Harvard Allston Task Force.

Harvard, in this letter, responded to some questions that various public agencies asked about the project. However, the letters mentioned above got no response, just this:

"In addition, at the close of the public comment period the BRA received several comment
letters, including one from the Harvard‐Allston Task Force. These letters included a number of
suggested mitigation measures and community benefits and these letters are currently being
reviewed by the Harvard team."
What's the point of asking for public comments if Harvard chooses not to respond to them and the BRA doesn't do anything about it?

Crimson editorial ponders Harvard's future in Allston

The Future of Allston | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson:
Now that the brightest of the brightest (Harvard's Allston Work Team) have had their say, how much more research is needed? Will the University undertake significant construction in Allston in the near future? Or is now just not the right time, financially, for the University to commit to further building?

It has been nearly three years since the demise of the original Science Complex plan. What is the future of Allston?

The Crimson notices Harvard's slowing Allston Farmers Market

Probably more a symptom of how little Harvard has happening in Barry's Corner more than a reflection on the farmers market itself. The opening this fall of Stone Hearth Pizza and the Swiss Bakers will bring a little more life to the area, but it really needs a lot more than that to become any kind of destination.

Allston Farmers' Market Struggles | News | The Harvard Crimson:

"Carrying plastic bags stuffed with produce, a shopper at the Harvard Allston Farmers’ Market reflected on the state of the University-created outdoor market: “They’re starting to lose people out there, aren’t they?”

Local farmers and community members have echoed this shopper’s off-hand remark.

They say that unlike the bustling Harvard Farmers’ Market outside the Science Center, the Allston market—envisioned as part of the University’s outreach into the Allston community—has had trouble attracting customers and vendors."

Slow cleanup from Irene on Lincoln St

10 days since the storm and as of this morning there were still lines down at the intersection of Lincoln and Royal.

Harvard Magazine on Harvard expansion

A couple stories about Allston in the new edition of Harvard's alumni magazine. Nothing that qualifies as "breaking news", but there are some interesting insights into Harvard's approach.

But back in Cambridge, there was trouble with the neighbors, as Zeckhauser anticipated. The 259,000-square-foot Center for Government and International Studies, for which planning began in 1995, was not completed until 2005; it had to be completely redesigned more than once to appease community concerns, more than quadrupling its price to a reported $140 million.

The first acquisition [in Allston], of a Sears warehouse site, was completed in 1989. Harvard’s Allston holdings grew from 140 acres in 1994 to 354 today,

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, Prince Charles, a speaker at the University’s 350th celebration, noted in a symposium on urbanization that American universities had been very successful in contributing to the health of their host cities, something he hoped might be transplanted to England. Now, with plenty of space to expand and new plans for business and academic development in Allston, Harvard can hope that the prince’s observations about American universities will come true on its own patch of real estate, across the river.

Construction of housing for Harvard faculty and graduate students near Barry’s Corner is expected to provide swing space for graduate students displaced by the impending undergraduate House renovations.

Little visible Stone Hearth progress

It has been 4 months since renovation started at the former CITGO station. This morning at 9am there wasn't any visible activity at the site and, while there may be great progress being made inside, the exterior is far from ready for a grand opening.

Federal $ coming to upgrade Comm Ave

$6.1m US grants for Commonwealth Ave. upgrade, 11 other state road projects -

"A plan to make upgrades along 1.5-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue between Packard’s Corner and Kenmore Square was one of a dozen state transportation projects that have received a combined $6.1-million in federal grant funding, officials announced Wednesday.

The state’s transportation department received $1 million – the second-largest of the 12 grants awarded to Massachusetts – to pay for resurfacing a section of Commonwealth Avenue, primarily between Alcorn Street and Kenmore Square. The funding will also go toward reconstructing sidewalks, upgrading traffic signals and making other safety improvements along that stretch of roadway"

A/B Elected Officials comment on Harvard's $100M Tata Hall

Nice to see them continuing to speak up about Harvard's lack of progress in the Holton Street Corridor.


Charlesview residents who would rather stay put

Harvard, the BRA, and the Charlesview Board spent years claiming how the residents of Charlesview were so desperate to leave their crumbling, decaying homes to move to new buildings. So how was the Crimson able to find Charlesview residents who either don't want to move or "just don't care"?

As Relocation Moves Forward, Charlesview Residents Remain Divided | News | The Harvard Crimson

Nancy T. Thach, who has lived at Charlesview for two years, was less optimistic about the land swap.

“A lot of people don’t want to move because they thought the rent might go up. I don’t want to move again," she said. "Where I have to live now, it’s fine with me."

Malena Som, who has been a resident of the Charlesview for five years, said she believes many residents are apathetic to the process.

“It’s frustrating because of the fact that we have to move to a different location—but it’s literally right there,” she said, pointing to the site less than a half mile down Western Avenue where the Charlesview will soon be located. “We have no idea what’s going on, we just know that we’re moving sometime. I think [the residents] just don’t care. They’re just curious as to… if it’s going to end up smoothly or not.”

Globe to Harvard: Get going in Allston

"But Harvard, which remains the wealthiest university in the world, still won’t commit to a speedy resumption of work on the science building, the linchpin of its expansion in Allston.

But for this south-of-the-Charles version of Kendall Square to bear fruit, the university needs to nail down first who will be occupying the new science building. If Harvard doesn’t move quickly and decisively, it’s optimistic to think private developers will."

Who needs another Kendall Sq?

Paul McMorrow wonders if the Boston/Cambridge area has enough demand for another Kendall Square like the one that Harvard has proposed for Allston.

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 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 (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 -
"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 -
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 -

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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.

More from Harvard about its Allston timeline

I wonder if the Harvard Allston Work Team's upcoming report will confirm this or not.

Without Allston, Cramped in Cambridge | News | Commencement 2011 | The Harvard Crimson
"But with administrators projecting a minimum wait of ten years before laboratories can move to Allston, faculty and students may have to get used to the crunch."

Kendall Sq plan - maybe not perfect but at least MIT is trying

So Paul McMorrow would like to see more integration of office, retail, and housing in MIT's plans to remake Kendall Square into a great place to work, live, and play with 100,000 square feet of new retail development, 1 million square feet of office and academic space, and 120,000 square feet of new residences.

At least MIT is trying, which is more than we can say about Harvard's lack of plans and non-existent vision for the Science Complex Foundation, the Charlesview site that will be abandoned in a few years, and much of the rest of its vast property holdings on Western Ave, North Harvard Street, Holton Street, and more.

Maybe Faust's Allston Work Team will amaze us with their upcoming report and match the initiative of their Cambridge neighbor, but does anyone really expect that?

A new face for Kendall Square - The Boston Globe

New Provost Faces Challenges in Allston

The Crimson takes a broad look at Harvard's presence in Allston in the past and future. - New Provost Faces Challenges in Allston | News | Commencement 2011 | The Harvard Crimson

This quote is the most specific prediction I recall seeing from Harvard about its future in Allston. Doesn't sound like he expects anything imminent, does he?
[Outgoing Provost] Hyman says that he is “quite hopeful” that there will be “active Harvard academic programs” in Allston in the next ten to fifteen years

Residents: Harvard ignores us on Allston campus plans

Its not about the process (whether or not Harvard is open and inclusive in its planning). It is about results - and Harvard's lack of progress in Allston and suggestion that we should be satisfied with nicer sidewalks that it is the real problem.
Residents: Harvard ignores us on Allston campus plans -

Upcoming zoning hearings

Comm Ave
Seattle St
Quint Ave

The BRA & Harvard have an Allston plan - Nicer Sidewalks

It is amazing how little Harvard and the BRA think might happen in the next 5 years on Harvard's massive property holdings in Allston and Brighton. This Crimson story sums it up pretty well - no new development but nicer sidewalks and "buffers" (trees, fences) between the sidewalk and parking lots on Western Ave.

As Short Term Planning Proceeds Allston Residents Ask for Clarity on Long Term Vision | The Harvard Crimson

MBTA Route 66 meeting - June 6

Key Bus Route Improvement Program

Monday, June 6
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Honan-Allston Branch Library
300 North Harvard Street, Boston

Everett Street Slope flower picking & cleanup, Saturday 10-12

Everett Street is in bloom on the slope between Lincoln and Adamson Streets! Since ABNNF adopted the site in 2008 it has become much greener and more beautiful as you can see in the photos below.

Tomorrow (Saturday) from 10-12 we will be doing some spring cleanup, spreading mulch, and helping it look even better. There is also a ton of phlox in bloom and other flowers that you are welcome to bring home. And if your kids like dandelion flowers and blowing seeds as much as mine do, there is no shortage of fun for them there. Hope you can join us!

P.S. A huge thank you to Mahoney's Garden Center for subsidizing the mulch for the site and all their ongoing support. The newly expanded Mahoney's is an oasis on Western Ave and please consider shopping their for your gardening needs.

Gardner Pilot Academy to expand from K-5 to K-8!

This great news was announced this afternoon at a meeting with BPS leadership. Starting in the 2012-13 school year, the school will add 6th grade, the year after that 7th grade, and the year after 8th.

Thanks to the Boston School Dept, our elected officials, and the entire GPA community for supporting this initiative!

Great Turnout at Speedway Charrette

It was great to see dozens of neighbors and others at the Speedway on Western Ave and then at the library for a discussion about the future of the site. Historic Boston is starting a feasibility study of the site, after which a lot more will be known about the programmatic possibilities and financial realities.

While the buildings do have a quirky, unique charm, it is hard to see what type of renovation would make sense. Whether the buildings need $2 million or $10 million of renovation we will learn from the results of the study, but it will no doubt take a lot more than just a coat of paint and new shingles to make them habitable.

On May 10 at 5:45 at City Hall, the Boston Landmarks Commission will consider official designation of the site as a "Boston Landmark". The commission's study report is available here.

New Harvard employee puts the emphasis on Harvard

Not a surprise that the focus is internal, not external

Harvard Taps Gordon Jones as Director of Innovation Lab | News | The Harvard Crimson
"University officials have in the past said that the Innovation Lab would serve as a resource to the Allston community. In a recent interview, Jones emphasized how the lab would benefit the University and said that as director he will ensure that the Innovation Lab will be particularly focused on students."

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.

Firm Commitments?

Did anyone find "firm commitments" in Drew Faust's recent Allston letter? Apparently someone at the Globe did.

Huge all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant coming to Western Ave
"Maki Maki will offer seating for 180 people and will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner"

Formerly Allston-bound School Deepens Ties Elsewhere

From the Harvard School of Public Health 2003 Annual Report
The planned relocation of the Harvard School of Public Health to a new campus in Allston a decade from now presents us with incredible opportunities--and an urgent necessity--for thinking about the future of public health.
From yesterday's - As Harvard expands in Mission Hill, new questions on Allston plans
Harvard University employees are moving into a newly restored Mission Hill building – one of three century-old former church complex facilities previously slated for demolition.

The university has a 10-year lease at the site that will house nearly 200 administrative workers for the Harvard School of Public Health.

Former New Balance CEO now owns site of proposed Lowe's

The New Balance plans for "a sports complex, hotel, park, movie theater, office buildings, and community space, along with a commuter rail station and access to the turnpike" always sounded better to me than a low-density, low-job creating Lowe's that would have duplicated the products available at the Watertown Home Depot and many smaller nearby retailers.

The New Balance idea of creating new on- and off-ramps to the Mass Pike though seemed strange to me, and of course the devil is in the details. For example, the New Balance and WGBH buildings could have done much more to animate the Market St / North Beacon St area and for some reason they haven't spurred much new development to enrich the area around them.

But it will be great to see eventually see that Guest Street land transformed and hopefully it starts a trend that Harvard and other property owners in the area might follow.

Group led by New Balance chair buys, intends to develop 15-acre Brighton plot -

Faust, Berkeley, Whelan, and Mattison on Harvard/Allston

"However, some residents – albeit thankful for the school’s positive steps forward – say until Harvard resumes work on its bigger promises for developing that area – most notably a $1.4-billion science center complex stalled since late 2009 – the university will not have the complete trust and backing of the Allston community.

“There’s a great deal of anxiety in the community on this [science center] site, and until that gets resolved that anxiety won’t go away,” said Paul Berkeley, a member of the Harvard Allston Task Force, a city-appointed group created to provide civic feedback to the school as its Allston campus expands."

Another Allston editorial from the Crimson

"Harvard needs nothing short of a defining vision for this project and must retool its approach to developing Allston to actualize the vibrant community it initially vowed to create...

Additionally, Harvard should be consulting the residents themselves even more than they do already. We are no experts on the specific needs of the Allston community, but there are those who are—and, to a certain extent, they have been struggling to make their voices heard.... President Faust has reassured the community that Allston remains a priority. But words mean only so much, and at some point they need to be translated into measureable plans."

City approves Harvard Innovation Lab project in Allston

Don't know if Harvard or the BRA considered any of the community input about the project or the City's Environment Departments concerns about Harvard's transportation and parking plans.

City approves $20M Harvard Innovation Lab project in Allston -

Stone Hearth gets its Beer & Wine license

I wonder when they will start renovations on the building...

Allston Pizzeria Wins Beer and Wine License News The Harvard Crimson

Charlesview construction to start in April

Construction on Charlesview Complex Set to Begin News The Harvard Crimson

Globe op-ed urges Harvard action in Allston

Thanks to Paul McMorrow for reminding Globe readers that Harvard can and should move forward with its Allston construction.

If Menino can leap, so can Harvard

Harvard’s vaunted new $1 billion Allston science center was supposed to be the centerpiece of the university’s new, modern face. It was to be the anchor of a gleaming, interdisciplinary, forward-looking empire. But construction ground to a halt in December 2009, and there’s no telling when work might resume. The science center site was supposed to be the opening round in the revitalization of a corner of town that never recovered from BRA bulldozers. Instead, the fenced-in site radiates decay.

Cutting-edge research brings in money, but Harvard isn’t chasing a profit in Allston. All it’s trying to do is strengthen its institutional standing as much as possible, and maybe not be an awful neighbor along the way.

Allston residents question Harvard's priorities

Residents fear that with the University focusing on the renovation of undergraduate housing, Harvard’s holdings in Allston will not be developed any time in the near future.

“Allston’s always the first priority after other things,” local resident and Harvard-Allston Task Force member Bruce E. Houghton said.

Crimson Envisions Allston Capital Campaign

Nice to see that the editors of the Crimson think Havard should put more emphasis on raising money to re-start Harvard's Allston expansion.

Capitalizing on Community - Opinion - The Harvard Crimson

"Recent revelations that Harvard has quietly begun fundraising for a capital campaign have prompted speculation on the extent and direction such a program would take...

recently administrators and donors have said that the primary focus is raising money for the upcoming House Renewal project...

although the capital campaign should include internal improvements, it must prioritize above all else resuming development on the Allston campus and restoring the local community...

There is no reason that the capital campaign cannot have both internal and external ends, but the Allston community must take precedence."

Last Chance to Support an Anderson Bridge Bike/Ped Underpass

It's not often that we have a chance to help make an improvement in our neighborhood that our grandchildren will enjoy. But the reconstruction of the Charles River bridges is one of those special opportunities - these 75+ year old bridges are getting major repairs for the first time and it will probably be another 75 years before they are rebuilt again.

So wouldn't it be great to do better than just rebuild the existing bridges and promote public health and safety at the same time? The Anderson bridge, which connects North Harvard St in Allston with JFK Street in Cambridge, can be rebuilt with an underpass that will allow walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, and bicyclists to travel without interruption along the river instead. Sort of like the Eliott Bridge underpass but with better lighting, better drainage, and better design!

Please CLICK HERE if you'd like to support this effort by adding your name to the Charles River Conservancy letter below.

For information on writing your own letter, CLICK HERE.