Learn Pottery for $187, $195, or $720

Waiting in the lobby of the Honan Library yesterday to meet a friend, I noticed the course catalogs for adult ed programs in Brookline and Newton.

I found these interesting because Harvard is moving its Ceramics program to 224 Western Ave (the former Verizon building, next door to the Dunkin Donuts) from its current location in the basement of a warehouse next to Smith Field.

Moving Harvard Ceramics closer to the Allston community seems like a great opportunity for it to become more a part of the Allston community while continuing and expanding its institutional programs.

In Brookline, you can take an 8-session course for $187
In Newton, you can take an 8-session course for $195
Want to take a 12-session course at the Harvard studio in Allston? $720

More on Harvard's Empty Allston Warehouses

After my visit yesterday, I thought someone at Harvard might realize that someone should locks the doors of their unlocked empty warehouses. Apparently not.

Not only is the Romar building vacant, but the Michael's Moving & Storage building is too.

Travis Street? Why Not Romar?

For years, Allston has hosted the most unattractive parts of Harvard's campus like this maintenance yard along the east edge of Smith Field. Now, as part of its Barry's Corner revitalization project, Harvard wants to move this stuff from one side of Barry's Corner to another.

But in Harvard's vast Allston real estate empire, how can this be the best option for the community?

I mentioned a few months ago Romar's impending departure from Harvard property in Allston.

Harvard's 10 year Master Plan proposal includes less than half of the Romar site.

I went over to the Romar site this morning to see if Romar is still there. If the property is empty and not needed by Harvard for other uses in the next 10 years, it seems like a great place for Harvard's parking lots, mail room services, storage space, the University's recycling program, and maintenance and upkeep of the University's fleet of buses, vehicles, and other maintenance equipment.

Inside the empty Romar warehouse - 3:30 in the video

In defending its selection of the Travis Street location, Harvard claims that "Harvard's undeveloped property to the east of the site was also considered, but would have required new construction rather than adaptive reuse of existing structures. The selected approach [Travis Street] is seen as most desirable from the perspective of functionality, sustainability, and overall neighborhood quality of life."

How can that be true when Harvard has this empty warehouse where it would have no impact on Allston's quality of life and it would leave the possibility of some truly neighborhood-friendly use on Travis Street in the future?

See more at http://allston02134.blogspot.com/2012/12/more-on-harvards-empty-allston.html

Proposed Relocation Draws Criticism from Allston Residents

Proposed Relocation Draws Criticism from Allston Residents | News | The Harvard Crimson:
“There must be some consideration about the wants and needs of the community,” said Ray V. Mellone, Task Force chair and Allston resident, who said he thought that the process was “broken.”

The Herter/Greenough Loop & Allston/Brighton River Connections - Monday @ 7pm

  • Interested in how Allston and Brighton could be better connected to the Charles River?
  • Do you like to walk, jog, run, or bike along the River?
  • If so, please join us on Monday, December 17 to learn more about the Herter-Greenough Loop!
The Solomon Foundation, in partnership with the DCR and MassDOT, has sponsored a design study to transform Greenough Boulevard along the Charles River into a fully accessible greenway for walkers, joggers, and cyclists as well as drivers.  By linking this mile long greenway to Herter Park at the north end of Everett Street, a seamless 2 1/2 mile loop path around the river would be created.

The plan also identifies the need for improved access from Alston and Brighton. Herb Nolan, the Deputy Director of the Solomon Foundation,  recently met with DCR staff and some of our elected officials and  is interested in getting more community input.

The meeting will be at 28 Mansfield St on Monday at 7pm. Pizza will be provided.

More details about the plan at http://www.solomonfoundation.org/pages/projects/her.html

Harvard makes an Allston accounting adjustment

Harvard makes an Allston accounting adjustment | Harvard Magazine Jan-Feb 2013
"Much of the land is now a blank slate, for potential academic use far in the future."

Allston master plan submitted by Harvard marks end of grandiose plans

Allston master plan submitted by Harvard in 2012 marks end of grandiose plans | Harvard Magazine Jan-Feb 2013
"Gone are the reconfigured bridges over the Charles River, the new undergraduate Houses, the 10 million square feet of building space, and the performing-arts pavilion at Barry’s Corner. In the vicinity of the latter, a parking lot is now contemplated for the construction vehicles used to build the mix of housing, retail, and athletic facilities that administrators are proposing for the land Harvard began quietly acquiring in 1988, 25 years ago."
"The net result, at least in the most public-facing locations of greatest interest to Allston residents, is a substantially more modest 10-year undertaking than contemplated even 18 months ago."
"The totality of projects planned for Allston in the next 10 years is perhaps more inward-looking than residents might have wished.

Planning across the river for a new Central Sq

Sketching a new Central Square in Cambridge - Cambridge, Massachusetts - Cambridge Chronicle & Tab:

Chief among the recommendations is an incentive for developers to build more housing of all kinds – but especially affordable and middle-income housing – in exchange for added height and density.

If approved, the new zoning would allow heights of up to 100 feet by right – up from the current allowable height of 80 feet – and 120-160 feet by a special permit on the condition that at least 20 percent of the bonus-floor area be devoted permanently to middle-income housing.

The recommendations stipulate that any heights above 80 feet along Massachusetts Avenue be devoted only to residential use and that no two adjacent building facades have a combined height of 220 feet.

Welcome SwissBakers to Allston! Stop by the tent on Western Ave this afternoon for tasty treats

Welcome SwissBakers to Allston! Stop by the tent on Western Ave this afternoon for tasty treats

Harvard selling 29 acres in Watertown

This is interesting. Harvard has a lot of property in its Allston/Brighton land-bank that doesn't seem to be doing anything to support education & research. Maybe Harvard will sell some of it and allow it to be put to better use.

University To Sell Arsenal on the Charles | News | The Harvard Crimson:
"University spokesperson Kevin Galvin wrote that Harvard had been reviewing its off-campus property to see how it fit with the University’s goals of supporting education and research."

swissbäkers now open on Western Ave

Starting at 3pm today and closing at 7pm, you’ll be able to get swissbakers goodies at 168 Western Ave

Another Speedway meeting - Will something happen this time?

DCR hosted another event yesterday with the hopes of someday having the Speedway property at the end of Western Ave renovated and in active use. I've been going to these meetings for 6 years, and I'm not sure why there might be a happier ending this time. But if nothing else it is nice that DCR is making an effort. It still is an amazing old building but my is it in horrible condition. I can't imagine how any for-profit or non-profit could make it financially viable to pour millions & millions into making it habitable.

Maybe this happy young couple would be interested

Public comments on the Harvard IMP are online


Radcliffe Public Art Competition - A Great Idea for Harvard in Allston

The winner of this competition gets $35,000 to build the art and a $5,000 honorarium. This is a great idea and it would be lovely to see Harvard bring the same spirit and modest budget to Allston where it could help enliven Barry's Corner and many other public sites where Harvard's drab buildings and empty lots could be dramatically improved.
Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition | Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University:
"The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is sponsoring an annual competition that highlights the potential of public art, and the visual arts in general, to contribute to intellectual conversations at Harvard and beyond."

The view of Harvard, from Harvard

Harvard is occasionally accused of being too insular and inward-focused, and images like this in Harvard's new Master Plan only reinforce that perception.

If Harvard really cares about the view from the Eliot House Tower in Cambridge to Baker Library on the HBS campus in Allston, that is certainly their prerogative. To me it seems like a strange priority. The tower's Celtic green cupola and gilded accents are lovely to look at, but how many people ever climb the tower to gaze across the Charles at Allston?

This is also an amazing image to submit to the Boston Redevelopment Authority and the residents of Allston/Brighton. Where are the new visual and architectural focal points that Harvard plans to build in Allston? What new view corridors does Harvard plan to build to visually connect the Allston community with the new Harvard Allston campus? Apparently there are few, if any.
The existing east-west view corridors (shown in red) of Hopedale St & Amboy St don't even connect with the blue "extended axis" lines that Harvard proposes on the currently abandoned Sears site. The extended axis that continues east from Bertram Street cuts through the middle of the Science Complex but doesn't align with much of anything that architecturally had been proposed for the Science Complex. Hopefully we will see that corridor become a reality in the Science Complex re-design. Finally, the extended axis that continues east from end of Rena Street cuts through the warehouses and truck maintenance facility that Harvard proposes to build at the intersection of Rena and Travis Street.

The back-side of Harvard's proposed basketball arena gets two black dots indicating "focal point opportunities". But it is only the back-side from my view in Allston. For Harvard, that is the front of the  arena, and the view from Harvard Stadium is what matters to Harvard, not the view from Allston.

Forgetting Barry’s Corner | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson

Forgetting Barry’s Corner | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson:
"...In the past 20 years, Harvard has repeatedly neglected the short- and long-term needs of Allston residents in favor of pursuing its own grand plans for expansion. Unfortunately, unfulfilled promises of community development cannot rectify a decision-making model that does not account for the needs of community residents..."

Allston cash to fund Harvard "other projects"

Harvard’s changing financial profile | Harvard Gazette:
LAPP: In Allston, the planning has shifted significantly in the last few years. It’s much more focused on a five- to 10-year time frame; it’s using our assets to generate income that will support other projects. The big project we’re building in Barry’s Corner, the multiunit market-rate rental housing and retail complex, is being done with a developer, and the long-term ground lease will be providing income to the University.

Open Studios this weekend

Enjoy the amazing creations of many local artists
November 10-11 Noon - 6pm

  1 Braintree Street
  119 Braintree Street
  20 Rugg Road

Allston/Brighton Open Studios

Harvard's 2008 promises coming due - Rena Park

Rena Park is not "due" until the Science Complex is occupied. If Harvard keeps its new timeline and re-starts construction in 2014 it will probably be 4-5 years until it is occupied. That being said, when will the interim improvements, design and planning begin so that they will be completed in time?

Aerosmith plans concert outside their former Allston apartment building at 1325 Comm. Ave. - Allston Brighton - Your Town - Boston.com

This is so cool!

Aerosmith plans concert outside their former Allston apartment building at 1325 Comm. Ave. - Allston Brighton - Your Town - Boston.com: "Aerosmith plans to perform a concert Monday outside the Allston apartment building at 1325 Commonwealth Ave., where the band lived in during the early 1970s when they got their start.

According to radio station 97.7/107.3 WAAF, which is helping to throw the pre-Election Day party and concert, the show will begin at noon on Monday, Nov. 5.

Harvard's 2008 promises coming due - Housing & Jobs

Good bread comes to those that wait - Swiss Bakers to open before 2013?

In March 2011, Harvard President Drew Faust told us that Harvard had recently signed a lease with the Swiss Bakers company to rent Harvard's former Volkwagen dealership on Western Ave.

Harvard VP Christine Heenan was, in retrospect, overly optimistic almost a year and a half ago when she said:
"When we come together for the 10th Boston Shines next year, you will see Stone Hearth Pizza across the street, Swiss Bakers café and the Innovation Lab down Western Avenue."
2012's Boston Shines came and went without the bakery opening, and 17 months later we are still looking forward to when Swiss Bakers arrival.

But according to this tweet, our wait is almost over and we will have fresh pretzels come New Years.

Patch interviews State Senate Candidates Brownsberger & Aylward

Click here to read about their priorities, how they will help create jobs, and more.

Boston Startup School leaving Allston & Harvard's Innovation Lab

Boston Startup School moving to Communispace HQ on Boston waterfront - Boston Business Journal:
"Seeking to be closer to startup hubs in Boston's Innovation District and Leather District, the Boston Startup School is moving this week from the Harvard Innovation Lab in Allston into the headquarters of Communispace at Atlantic Wharf in Boston,"

Harvard's 2008 promises coming due - Part 1, Shuttle Bus access

Harvard recently submitted a notification form for a new 10 year Master Plan in Allston. This makes it a good time to remember the promises that Harvard made in 2008 in the Science Complex Cooperation Agreement.

This concept of community access to the Harvard shuttle wasn't new in the 2008 Cooperation Agreement. It goes back at least to 2005 and this section on page 49 of the North Allston Strategic Framework for Planning.

New Balance expands Brighton real estate empire

Adding to the New Balance - BostonHerald.com: "In separate deals within the past month, company affiliates paid $3.8 million for a North Beacon Street building that’s home to the Vocational Advancement Center and $5 million for the Grossman’s Bargain Outlet site next door."

Fern Square looking great!

Thanks to the neighbors, Mahoney's Garden Center, and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund for helping improve Collins Square (at the intersection of Holton & Franklin Streets). The new border, new plants, and improvements to the path are great, and the plants will look even better next spring!

CSX Departure Moves Closer - How will Harvard respond?

As CSX gets closer to moving its trains and operations out of Allston, the question looms regarding what Harvard will do with the land. Will Harvard let it sit empty for years like it has with the Sears slab between Windom and Cambridge Streets?

Harvard spent $75 million to buy the 91-acre CSX property back in 2003. For years we heard that Harvard couldn't touch the land because of the permanent rail easements. But when CSX is gone what will come next?

State Closes CSX Deal, Expands 'T' Service | WBJournal.com:
"The Worcester facility is part of CSX's plan to move operations from Allston to Westborough and Worcester by the end of the year...
CSX expects to begin moving bulk commodity operations from Allston to Westborough soon and the intermodal freight to Worcester later this year."

Harvard grows its Allston team - adds Tufts Vice Provost Newell

Vice Provost Newell to assume new position at Harvard - Tufts Daily - Tufts University
“Initially, my first early responsibilities will relate to the Allston building; they’re building a new campus in Allston,” she said. “I’ll be involved in the planning for the Allston campus and also helping them to assure that academic priorities at Harvard help to drive their fundraising objectives.”

Help plant on Everett St this weekend

Rain or shine neighbors will be planting and mulching the embankment at the corner of Everett Street and Braintree Street in Allston  this Saturday and Sunday!

Across the Street from Emerald Necklace Martial Arts
95 Everett Street, Allston, MA

Ask Governor Patrick to Build the Charles River Underpasses

Please click here to voice your support for this important project

The Massachusetts State Government is considering whether to build pedestrian underpasses at the Anderson (North Harvard Street), Western Avenue, and River Street bridge intersections along the Charles River. These underpasses:

  • will be much cheaper to build now vs. 75 years from now during the next bridge renovation project
  • can be very easily integrated into the construction plans while the bridges are being restored next year;
  • will make it safer and easier for cyclists, runners, skaters, wheelchair users, and pedestrians to enjoy the river paths, with gains to public health, recreation, and the environment; and
  • View of the Anderson Bridge from bing.com/maps
  • will reduce congestion and traffic jams for vehicular traffic.
Possible Anderson Bridge underpass 

New parking lot proposed for Everett Street

Now that Harvard has completed its land-swap with the Skating Club of Boston, the design is moving forward on the project to replace the never-occupied building on Lincoln Street which was described by Paul McMorrow as "the trade bait in a neighborhood-wide game of Monopoly".

Crimson: Harvard "do no harm" in Allston

Suggesting that Harvard "do as little inadvertent harm as possible" is setting a pretty meager bar for Harvard to clear. On a more ambitious note, it is nice to see the editorial hope to see "Allston flourish, both for our campus and the surrounding community".

Developing Allston | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson:
"Ultimately, Harvard has no institutional obligation to prioritize the development of a community over the actualization of its private goals. However, it does have a social obligation to act as a constructive member of the community and do as little inadvertent harm as possible to Allstonians in the pursuit of its objectives."

Could Harvard cheating derail Allston expansion?

Harvard Cheating Scandal Revives Debate Over Athletics - NYTimes.com:
But last week, days after published reports implicated the co-captains of the basketball team in a widespread academic cheating scandal that may involve dozens of varsity athletes, the mood at Harvard had shifted...The news could reignite a contentious decades-old debate about athletes and academic integrity in the Ivy League...Harvard’s senior basketball co-captains, Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, have taken leaves of absences for the 2012-13 year, according to two Harvard officials briefed on the situation. 
Will this news dampen Harvard's enthusiasm to build a new basketball arena in Allston? If there is going to be a period of introspection at Harvard about the role of athletics, it would be a bit awkward to at the same time be also committing tens of millions of dollars on the construction of a new arena.

Allston Residents Call for Detailed Harvard Plans

Allston Residents Call for Detailed Plans | News | The Harvard Crimson:

Mellone worried that the proposed Barry’s Corner Complex, as it stands, will not realize the University and the community’s expressed desires to make Barry’s Corner a vibrant and lively community center.
“Right now, it seems generic,” Mellone said. “It doesn’t seem to have a kind of interest for most of the community.”
“Harvard for years talked about there being some major cultural institution or activities,” Mattison said. “We want that. If it’s a CVS, a bank, and an AT&T store, it’s not going to be a place people want to come to—it’s not going to be a particularly attractive draw.”
Mattison said that to address the current issues causing anxiety in the community, the nature of the conversations between residents and the University would have to change.
“Right now, the discussion is focused almost exclusively on the height and shape of the buildings,” he said. “If Barry’s Corner is going to become a lively vibrant place, there are a lot of other things that are much more important than how tall and how wide the buildings are.”

short story from last night's Harvard meeting

Samuels & Assoc. To Build 11-Story Mixed Use Project In Allston

Romar Trucking leaving Allston - another Harvard vacancy

Railroad draws new business to Hopedale, MA

"Romar, which has been in Allston for more than 40 years, distributes business supplies, including paper, lumber, drywall and other non-hazardous materials. The company recently had its lease in Allston terminated when Harvard University acquired the land, forcing it to relocate."

Racial segregation in Boston

Red is white, blue is black, green is Asian, orange is Hispanic. Each dot is 25 people.

Allston's Cathi Campbell nominated to District Court

Patrick nominates 3 to District Court: "Governor Deval L. Patrick today announced the nomination of three attorneys to the District Court bench.

Cathleen E. Campbell and Michael L. Fabbri have been tapped for the Cambridge and Framingham courts, respectively, while Mary F. McCabe has been nominated as a circuit justice.

Campbell has been a partner at Boston’s Schofield, Campbell & Connolly since 2006, specializing in criminal and civil litigation. Prior to joining the firm, she was a sole practitioner in Allston for seven years, an Essex County assistant district attorney in for three years and an assistant general counsel in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department for four years."

'via Blog this'

State requires New Brighton Landing Environmental Impact Report

New Brighton Landing had requested a waiver to avoid having to write this report, but the state is requiring it anyway. Read the details at: http://www.env.state.ma.us/mepa/mepacerts/2012/sc/enf/14909eenf.pdf

Economy Forces Harvard to Tighten Its Belt - WSJ.com

Here are a few excerpts from a little story in the Wall Street Journal about the choices being made by Harvard about how to spend its $$$

Economy Forces Harvard to Tighten Its Belt - WSJ.com:

In 2009, as its endowment plunged by nearly 30%, Harvard University halted construction on a $1.2 billion science center across the Charles River, angering the neighborhood there by leaving behind a foundation and an idle construction site.

Harvard now says it will resume work on the project, but not until 2014 and even then at half the originally planned size, reflecting a newfound fiscal caution at the school. "The economic realities necessitate this," Kevin Casey, a Harvard spokesman, said in June at a community meeting.

"There was a definite change in mentality over there...there was a sort of sky-is-the-limit attitude but now they are taking much more cautious approach," says Gerald Autler, a senior project manager for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, a public agency which works with colleges on building projects and expansion.

Harvard isn't belt-tightening everywhere. Since 2007, its investment in financial aid to undergraduates has risen by more than 78%, which Harvard said is "significantly outpacing increases in tuition." Undergraduate tuition for the 2012-13 year climbed 3.5% to $54,496. In May, Harvard committed $30 million to edX, a collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide online classes to the public.

2 A/B projects at the Boston Civic Design Commission tonight

@6:00pm City Hall Room 933A   BU New Balance Field
@7:00pm  Room 937A   New Brighton Landing Parcels A+B (HQ complex)

Globe - Daly Field bill "is a poor example of privatization"

Brighton field does not belong in private hands - Editorials - The Boston Globe:
"Daly Field is currently operated by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which has neglected it amid uncertain funding. But that’s no reason to write it off. Daly Field is still a valuable state asset with great potential. Under no circumstances should hours of use be dominated by a private college. And hours devoted to public use, for that matter, shouldn’t be monopolized by residents of a single neighborhood.
State environmental groups, including the Conservation Law Foundation and the Environmental League of Massachusetts, have urged lawmakers to reject the bill, but were ignored by the House and Senate. Governor Patrick shouldn’t make the same mistake."

When would "regular" people get to use the new semi-private Daly Field?

Simmons College plan to build athletic fields in state-owned Brighton park sparks opposition - Massachusetts - The Boston Globe:

  • Simmons will have full use of the field from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays from March to May and mid-August to November.
  • The Brighton High football team would have practices from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and Friday nights from mid-August to November.
  • The bill also carves out time for the Allston-Brighton Little League on weekday evenings from May to July.
  • Saturdays would be time-reserved and shared by Simmons College, Allston-Brighton, and abutting communities.
  • Sundays would be reserved for Allston-Brighton and abutting communities.

Why have outdoor public space in Barry's Corner?

We had some discussion about outdoor public space in Barry's Corner at last night's Harvard meeting. There was talk about both where it should be (along North Harvard St, along Western Ave, at the intersection, etc) and its shape (thin and linear vs. compact) but I think the conversation should start with what types of activity the space is intended to host. What are its goals?

Sitting and eating was mentioned frequently and that is fine, but if Barry's Corner is going to be a real center of community activity then it needs to bring people together to do more than have a sandwich on a bench.

The Fairhaven Outdoor Cinema in Bellingham, WA is one example of a great looking outdoor space that brings neighbors together. On summer Saturday evenings there is live music starting at 7:30 or 8:00 followed by a family-friendly movie.

There are already other places around Boston with similar events (Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell and Music & Movie Fridays at the Boston Harbor Hotel) but I don't know of anything comparable in this area.

A space with programming like this would be a great addition to our neighborhood and could be a nice place for the Harvard community, Allston residents from our existing community, and our new neighbors from the new Barry's Corner housing to all come together.

Seemed like The Stockyard would be in Brighton forever, but maybe not

Where's the beef? Not at the Stockyard in Brighton anymore | Universal Hub:
Word is filtering in that the venerable Brighton steak place, named for the area's beefy past, has gone to that great cattle drive in the sky.

Allston rail yards about to get real quiet

Harvard - Allston Campus - Page 42 - archBOSTON.org:
"Get your last photo ops of Beacon Park in action. Domestic freight transloading moves to Worcester officially on Sept. 1."

Urban Ecology City Roots meeting

Tuesday, June 19 from 7-8 pm

Brian J. Honan Apartment Unit N (Lower Level), 57 Everett St

Meet Your Neighbors, Learn About Urban Ecology,
and Enjoy Family Friendly Activities: 
  • Hands-on Science Demonstrations
  • Arts and Crafts Activities
 Learn the answer to these questions:
  • Where does the Allston Brighton stormwater go?
  • How does a green roof work?
  • What is a rain garden?
  • What is a pollinator?
  • What is an arthropod and what does it look like under a magnifying glass?
  • What green roof research is happening in my neighborhood?
  • . . .and more!
Light refreshments will be served!

For more information, please contact:
Michelle Martinat
Community Forester
Urban Ecology Institute

Please spread the word to your friends and neighbors!  

Harvard Science Complex to resume construction in 2014


  • Building and space programming: Initiated (to be completed by fall 2012)
  • Architectural design and Regulatory Review: Spring 2013
  • Early site work: Targeted for late 2013
  • Construction on the Health and Life Science Center in 2014

Upcoming zoning hearings


Raymond St, Gerrish St, Bigelow St, Comm Ave

Public art opportunity for Harvard in Barry's Corner

Harvard professor Preston Scott Cohen is the designer of "one of the best new works of architecture in New York... an angular glass canopy over an obscure but busy pedestrian street". This raises the interesting question about what type of art and architecture Harvard will bring to Allston with its pending Barry's Corner housing/retail development.

I've written before about MIT's Percent for Art program that designates as much as $250,000 for public art at every major MIT renovation or building project and how a similar approach would help Harvard to make good on its promise to transform Western Ave and Barry's Corner.

The Dean of  Harvard Business School said that he couldn't afford public art on Western Ave as part of Harvard's Innovation Lab. But somehow Goldman Sachs, whose New York headquarters are next door to Cohen's canopy, found the money and decided that trying to create a great public space was worth the expense.

As details emerge about Barry's Corner over the next few months, it will be interesting to see which route Harvard and its developer want to take.

CityRoots coming back to Everett Street

The CityRoots organization was a great source of financial and technical support when the Everett Street slope between Lincoln and Aldie streets was beautified over the past few years. Now CityRoots is coming back to help improve the Everett Street slope on the south side of the Pike.

Join them next week to learn more!

Do you enjoy nature in the city?
Volunteer for this year's CityRoots Project!

Participants will:
       Learn the importance of trees and birds in our cities
       Tour local green spaces and green roofs
       Research urban ecology with Boston University faculty    and students
       Design and develop green space along Everett St.
       Improve the neighborhood through urban plantings

Join us for an information session!

Where: 95 Everett St, Allston, MA
                                (In case of inclement weather, info sessions
                                will be held  in the lower level of 57 Everett St)
When:  Monday, June 4 from 6-7 pm (led in Spanish)
                                Tuesday, June 5 from 6-7 pm (led in English)
Light refreshments will be served!

For more information, please contact:
Victoria Wolff at Vwolff@urbaneco.org

Book Sale & Fun @ Mellone Park

Mark your calendars  Saturday, June 9  for two events:

The Friends of the Honan-Allston Library Book Sale,  300 North Harvard St, Allston 10:00 am-2:00 pm RAIN OR SHINE
All Books - .10 cents to $3.00  -  All proceeds directly benefit the Honan-Allston Branch Library
Visit the new Teen Area in the Library.

from the Friends of the Honan-Allston Library

                                                          --- and ---

A Day of Fun in Ray Mellone Park, 12 Noon-3:00 PM.   Park located in the rear of the library – NO RAIN DATE
Face painting, ice cream, balloons and  Musical Entertainment by Tim McHale
Come and enjoy the new park and meet your neighbors.

from the Friends of the Ray Mellone Park

It will be a fun day and we look forward to seeing you!!

Weeks footbridge accessibility meeting tonight

Thursday, May 17, 2012

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  
Harvard Business School – Cumnock Hall, Room 102
33 Harvard Way, Cambridge, MA  

At the meeting, DCR staff will present a project overview and alternatives for improving accessibility to the John W. Weeks Footbridge over the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge, while maintaining its historic character.  The meeting will include an opportunity for public questions and comment and will be followed by two additional public meetings regarding project design and construction plans.  


Anderson Bridge construction starts this month

If you are travelling between Allston & Harvard Square, you might want to find a different way to get there.

Traffic Information - Charles River Basin Project: "Starting Tuesday, May 29, 2012, MassDOT crews will begin road work required as part of the Anderson Memorial Bridge Rehabilitation Project. During the work, the downstream sidewalk will be closed and traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on the bridge."

A Science Complex Update from President Faust

"Isaacson then read out the first alumni question, a brief one on the status of the Science Center at Allston, and the cognoscenti leaned forward to hear her response. President Faust gave a long answer, taking up a big piece of the discussion period, referring to the impact of the global financial meltdown, which seriously affected the size of the University's endowment. 
A new plan for the Center is being refined, reports President Faust. It will encourage both a greater concentration of scientific talent in the science center and will establish designated locations for nearby private businesses to create spaces for commercializing new ideas."

New springtime babies

The parent robins built this nest in the climbing Hydrangea in our backyard and now they have what looks like 3 very new children!

Thank you Boston for the street trees!

A big thanks to the City of Boston Parks Department for the 5 new trees planted today on Mansfield Street! They will be a great addition to make the street nicer!

Everett Street meeting

The City of Boston Transportation Department and Public Works Department are proposing traffic safety improvements on Everett Street between Adamson Street and Aldie Street in Brighton.

A public meeting to discuss the proposed design will be held on Wednesday, April 25 @6:00 PM at the Brighton Marine Health Center.

How big is your shadow?

With so much talk at the recent Harvard meetings about the size of shadows that new construction in Barry's Corner might cast onto Smith Field, I thought it would be interesting to find some real-world examples in our neighborhood.

The office building at the corner of Cambridge St and Everett St seems to be about the same height as what Harvard tentatively proposed along the eastern border of Smith Field. At 9:45 this morning the shadow reached almost to the edge of the parking lot, which according to the ruler in Google Earth, would be approximately 55 feet. Later in the day and as summer approaches, the shadows would be shorter as the sun moves higher in the sky.

The yellow line in this image from Google Earth measures 55 feet. The taller buildings suggested in Harvard's diagram are farther from Smith Field, so while their shadows would be longer, some of those shadows would be cast onto the other buildings.

Once upon a time, when Harvard promised Barry's Corner culture

In 2007, Harvard did propose building huge amounts of art and cultural facilities in Barry's Corner, primarily on the current Charlesview site. These proposals contributed to a lot of the excitement and enthusiasm about what Barry's Corner would become and how relocating Charlesview would be a net improvement for everyone.
Harvard isn't doing 20 year plans anymore, and Harvard isn't proposing any arts or museums on the Charlesview site. The retail proposed for Barry's Corner is much less than 60,000 sq ft. These changes leave a lot less to be excited about in Barry's Corner.

Source: The Plan for Harvard in Allston (http://harvardmag.com/media/Allston-2007-01-11.pdf) pages 16 & 18

BPS School Assignment policy meeting

Saturday morning at the Jackson Mann


New Balance submits BIG plans

New Balance details massive Brighton project - BostonHerald.com:
The athletic equipment maker, led by billionaire Jim Davis, plans four buildings at its “New Brighton Landing” project on Guest Street, including a new world headquarters measuring 250,000 square feet and a 175-room hotel rising as high as 20 stories. 
The company also proposes as much as 650,000 square feet of office space on a nearly 10-acre parcel along the eastbound side of the Massachusetts Turnpike. 
On a separate parcel across Guest Street, New Balance plans to build a 345,000-square-foot sports facility with an ice rink and track. The company said in the filing that the facility “may contain venues for basketball, tennis, ice hockey, general recreation, track and field,” and a fitness facility.
The project includes about 65,000 square feet of restaurant, retail and service space spread among the buildings.
Full details at http://assets.bizjournals.com/boston/news/New-Balance-Brighton-Plan.pdf

Can we have South End-style infrastructure to support South End-style density?

At last night's Task Force meeting, Harvard's consultant suggested that Rollins Square is a valid precedent to consider when thinking about the scale of what Harvard might build in Barry's Corner. In many ways, Rollins Square is a great project as I mentioned in a 2008 post:
Rollins Sq won the John M. Clancy Award for socially responsible housing in 2006. The jury noted that the six-story buildings and four-story townhomes "fit well within its mid-rise neighborhood". It also received a Maxwell Award from the Fannie Mae Foundation for outstanding development of affordable housing and an award from the Boston Preservation Alliance. 
 But buildings like this need to be considered in their context, and the context of Boston's South End is very different than North Allston, particularly in terms of its transportation infrastructure.

Using the MBTA map at http://erikdemaine.org/maps/mbta/, here are the subway lines within approximately 1 mile of Rollins Sq and Barry's Corner. Which location is better able to handle large numbers of residents, workers, and visitors?

If Harvard was willing to talk about a commuter rail stop, a revived section of the proposed but since mothballed Urban Ring, encouraging Harvard employees to live in Allston and walk or bike to work, or other ways to mitigate/reduce the transportation impacts of Rollins Square style housing in Barry's Corner, I expect that their plans would be received much more favorably than they were last night.

New condos coming to Comm Ave in Brighton

Long-awaited plan for Charing Cross condo building in Brighton to be unveiled - Boston.com:
"A local developer will announce detailed plans Thursday night for a long-awaited project to construct a 55-unit condominium building at a highly-visible, city-owned site along Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton... “We’re going to be one of the first ones in Boston to get in on what I think is an emerging condominium market,” said Diamond, declining to disclose the current projected cost of a project that, as of four years ago, was billed at about $18 million."
Nice to see that a private developer can build some owner-occupied housing in Brighton. Does this mean it might be financially viable for Harvard to do the same in North Allston?

Will a March Madness win bring a new arena to Allston?

If #12 Harvard pulls of a big upset this afternoon against #5 Vanderbilt, how quickly will Harvard be able to raise $100M or so to build a new hoops arena in Allston?


Why would anyone "throw out" the Ed Portal?

This is a very strange story. The Ed Portal could certainly be relocated to make space for new development in Barry's Corner. The new Ed Portal could be completed before the current building would be torn down. So the suggestion that the Ed Portal would be "thrown out" or that there would have to be a year without any Ed Portal really doesn't make sense.

Tensions Rise in Allston Over Ed Portal | News | The Harvard Crimson:

“Being thrown out of the building would represent a problem for the various activities we provide for the community,” Lue said, emphasizing the importance of maintaining continuity for the more than 100 children who utilize Portal resources.

“Missing a whole season, or two seasons, could really interfere with their progress,” he said.

Harvard still considering a new Allston stadium

The Rise of Harvard Basketball | FM | The Harvard Crimson:

Prior to the 2008 recession and the steep decline in the University’s endowment, the construction of a new basketball stadium in Allston was in consideration.

“Before the stock market took that big dive it did and the endowment had that big struggle, there was a greater plan for all of those facilities on that side of the river to eventually be relocated,” Mannix says.

Those plans, however, were put on hold with the bad economy. Today, the construction of a new stadium in Allston remains in discussion.

“It’s still a subject of conversation,” [Staples Founder Tom] Stemberg adds. “People are still talking about it. Nobody’s done anything yet because nobody’s given up the money, but I think, you know, if the money were there, I think we’d get it done.”

Speedway comments

To: dcr.updates@state.ma.us

I am writing to follow-up comments that I and other neighbors made at the February 27 public meeting regarding the future of the Speedway building.

To fully realize the potential of a rehabilitated Speedway and help create a financially and operationally feasible project, it is essential to consider the future of the abutting properties.

Adjacent to the the Speedway buildings are blighted and underutilized properties owned by the State and Harvard University. Harvard's property (the former Toureen Kennels / Brighton Animal Hospital) has been vacant for several years and I expect that demolition is the only viable option. If Harvard refuses to engage in constructive discussions, eminent domain should be considered.

To this end, I hope that DCR will reach out to Harvard, the Smith Health Center (who is leasing some or all of the State's adjacent property), and any other related parties to identify strategies for collaboration that can maximize the potential of this set of parcels.

If nothing else, this holistic approach might find opportunities to create shared parking facilities among various future users. This could address the limited space for parking at the Speedway which was noted as an obstacle during DCR's public design charrette.

Presentation from Monday's Speedway meeting

regarding the future of the crumbling building along Soldiers Field Road at the western end of Western Ave


The 'Ink Block' - The high end of the Barry's Corner spectrum

A Guide to the 'Ink Block' Proposal at the Former Boston Herald Site - South End, MA Patch:

The former site of the Boston Herald for more than 50 years, at 300 Harrison Ave., is 6.22 acres.

National Development’s plans call for the construction of three new buildings, which would all be between 70 and 100 feet high, and the reuse of the existing Boston Herald building, mainly for its foundation. The four buildings would be five, eight, eight and nine stories high and together would be nearly 550,000 square feet.

There would be 471 new residential units and a total of about 85,000 square feet of retail space, including a 30,000-square-foot space for a grocery store and multiple smaller, ground-floor spaces for retail and/or restaurants.

1282 Boylston as a Barry's Corner comparison (using 1/2 as much land)

Harvard is suggesting that 200-400 apartments could be built on 2.5 acres in Barry's Corner. 1282 Boylston St is a recently approved project of a comparable size (210 units, 331,000 sq ft) on a 1 acre site of a parking lot near Fenway Park which was home to a McDonald's until 2009.
From the Boston Herald

Mayor Menino Announces 1282 Boylston Approved by BRA Board - November, 2011:

The 331,000 square foot project that will be developed by The Abbey Group will replace an underutilized surface parking lot with 12,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, 88,000 square feet of office space, a 295 space below grade parking garage, and 210 housing units, including 21 affordable units.
The $150 million project will include a 2,700 square foot ground floor community center furnished with computers and presentation equipment that will be maintained by the building management and available for use by the neighborhood.