The Boston Redevelopment Authority approved Harvard’s 10 year development plan in Allston, giving the green light to several new building projects and two major renovations.
The plan covers three new buildings and one renovation at Harvard Business school, a hotel and conference center on Western Ave., renovations to the Soldiers Field Park graduate student housing, some renovations to Harvard Stadium, and a new home for Harvard basketball.
The other two projects call for renovating two other student housing buildings on the business school campus.
Several board members of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, believes the plan, “provides a framework for future development in Allston that will support key academic needs and further knit together campus and community,” they released the statement not to long after the approval.
“The plan will expand the University’s academic presence, continue the activation of Barry’s Corner, enhance the public realm, strengthen pedestrian connections, improve circulation, and create new green space and gathering places for the University and the community,” the B.R.A stated. “In addition, the plan includes a long-term vision to guide future campus and community planning in Allston.”
Harvard, city officials in Allston/Brighton, and residents are also working to finish up a 10-year community benefits package to go along with the university’s master plan for development. However, concerns remain about the plan as well as about Harvard’s plans for Allston for the future.
Allston resident Henry Christensen said, “the plan was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority without Harvard taking into account the residents feelings” about how the large development plan will impact traffic, parking, and public spaces.
Harvard officials believe this is the best move for the University, including Harvard President Drew Faust, “I truly believe that no institution of higher education has a more exciting opportunity for innovative growth, in an intellectual and entrepreneurial environment as dynamic as we have in Boston and Cambridge,” Faust wrote in a letter to residents.
Newly elected mayor, Martin J. Walsh said he would make major changes to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s structure after the public outcry.
Residents in Boston have made it apparent that the B.R.A. has tried to move too quickly to approve projects and that the authority does not adequately factor residents’ feedback when making decisions.
Harvard began pushing for an expansion in Allston in the late 1980s, and it now owns 359 acres in Allston. In late 2003, Harvard envisioned a massive 250-acre campus in Allston that included academic space, student housing, entertainment facilities, and the transformation of Barry’s Corner to replicate Harvard Square.