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Historic Affordability Commitments in First Phase of Harvard Enterprise Research Campus Proposal

Twenty-five percent of residential units will be income-restricted; Harvard will make a $25 million payment to establish Allston-Brighton Affordable Housing Fund

Mayor Michelle Wu and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) announced historic housing affordability commitments in the Harvard Enterprise Research Campus (ERC) Phase A proposal following an extensive community engagement process. Additional community benefits include  investments in future neighborhood planning in Allston-Brighton and an increased amount of publicly accessible open space, including connections from Allston to the Charles River and Ray Mellone Park, and transportation improvements. BPDA staff is recommending the project for a vote at the BPDA Board of Directors meeting on July 14, 2022.

“The development of Harvard’s land in Allston is of such scale and scope that the impact will shape generations to come—we must get this right for our communities. The package before the board for this first phase represents a remarkable step forward for housing affordability, green space, workforce development, and community planning resources to ensure careful alignment with neighborhood needs,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m grateful to the many community leaders and activists who have shaped this agreement and who will continue to steer our focus for sustainable, equitable development.”

“The proposed Harvard Enterprise Research Campus Phase A before the BPDA represents a first step for Harvard in the University’s plans to develop its large-scale landholdings of 360 acres in Allston and Brighton,” said Councilor Liz Breadon. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Mayor Wu, Representatives Moran and Honan, Chief Jemison, the Harvard Allston Task Force, and neighborhood activists, the Phase A proposal before the board sets an important precedent for future development located on Harvard-owned land. Most significantly, this process has allowed the City to commit to a comprehensive Allston-Brighton neighborhood planning process, complementary community needs assessment, and, in conjunction with Harvard, future planning processes for the remaining 22-acres of the ERC and the over 50-acre Beacon Park Yard.”

“Thank you Mayor Wu for fighting for Allston and Brighton,” said State Representative Mike Moran. “Without her leadership, our neighborhood would have never received this transformative community benefits package from Harvard University. Thanks also to the Harvard Allston Task Force (HATF), the Allston Civic Association (ACA), and the Coalition for a Just Allston Brighton (CJAB) for their tireless advocacy for a better Phase A deal from Harvard. We have laid the groundwork and together we will ensure that all future phases meet the needs of our neighborhood.”

"Thank you to Mayor Wu and her administration, the Harvard Allston Task Force, the Allston Civic Association, and the Coalition for a Just Allston-Brighton for their meritorious efforts collaborating on the Harvard ERC Project,” said State Representative Kevin Honan. “All have been effective at negotiating benefits for the impacted community. Harvard has committed to increasing workforce training opportunities to bring residents into the growing life sciences sector. The proposal also includes deeper affordability in new housing units, along with the creation of a new fund for production and preservation of affordable housing in Allston-Brighton.”

The commitment by Harvard and developer Tishman Speyer to provide 25 percent of the planned 345 units as income restricted represents the largest percentage of income-restricted units in a single project by a private developer in Boston. The income-restricted housing will all be located on-site to increase the direct affordable housing supply in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood. These housing units will meet a range of income levels, between 30 percent and 100 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).

In addition, Mayor Wu and the BPDA announced a landmark $25 million commitment from Harvard to establish an Allston-Brighton Affordable Housing Fund that will support affordable housing, affordable homeownership, and housing preservation in the neighborhood, intended to protect and grow the housing in a community experiencing unprecedented development. The university will also donate land at 65 Seattle Street for the creation of more affordable homeownership opportunities in Allston. Following a public process, the parcel will be conveyed to an affordable housing developer for the creation of new homeownership units with the greatest affordability possible.

Mayor Wu and the BPDA also announced Harvard has agreed to contribute up to $1 million for an Allston-Brighton Community Needs Assessment to help inform future community benefits and will contribute an additional $1 million for a City-led planning and rezoning study for the 22 acres of the Enterprise Research Campus outside the existing 14-acre site. In addition, the project provides $500,000 for a holistic study and design effort, led by the BPDA and the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) of a “Western Avenue Transitway” which will prioritize transit use, low stress bikeways, and generous pedestrian accommodations. These efforts will complement planning already underway by the BPDA through the Western Avenue Corridor Rezoning Study

"Our vision of an inclusive community where people of all income levels, artists, immigrants, students, and seniors can afford to live and continue to thrive has not changed,” said Cindy Marchando of the Harvard-Allston Task Force. “We are very appreciative that the administration came in and was able to help facilitate this agreement that will allow us to move to the next phase of this project. We look forward to working collaboratively with the BPDA, Harvard, and the administration on the future phases of this transformative project."

"I want to thank the mayor and her administration for expediting an agreement for Phase A of this project and setting up a process that prioritized the community and its needs,” said Anthony D’Isidoro, President of the Allston Civic Association. “I think we've made tremendous progress since the initial filing. We recognize that there's more work to be done and look forward to working with all parties on future phases to ensure this project benefits everyone in the community." 

In addition to the housing affordability and community benefits commitments, Phase A of the ERC would significantly increase open space and public realm areas in the neighborhood with almost three acres of space, as well as the creation of the Allston Greenway, eventually connecting to the west to Ray Mellone Park and east towards Soldiers Field Road. The project will actively program the Greenway with a wide variety of events and activities that may range from farmers markets and small concerts, to temporary art installations, and fitness classes. 

"The current proposal for the first phase of the ERC sets a new standard for investments in affordable housing and planning in the Allston-Brighton neighborhoods," said Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison. "We are grateful for the significant community engagement over the past 18 months, and Thursday's Board hearing will be an opportunity for the BPDA Board to hear directly from the community and stakeholders." 

"The Parks and Recreation Department is committed to working through all levels of government and with private partners to expand and protect accessible open spaces for all Boston residents," said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space. "We look forward to working with Harvard so we can collectively achieve a state of the art green space and restore connection between Allston and the Charles River."

The proposal also makes significant investments in new multimodal connections, including prioritizing safe transit improvements for pedestrians and cyclists on Western Avenue. Harvard will work with the MBTA to improve service on bus Routes 86 and 70 and to provide connections to key transit hubs, and transit priority and bus stop improvements on Western Avenue and other corridors. The project proposes 600 bike parking spaces and the installation of two BlueBikes stations with 23 docks each.

A public hearing for the proposed project is scheduled to be held virtually on Thursday, July 14 at 5:40 p.m. as part of the BPDA’s July Board meeting. As part of the BPDA’s Language Access Plan, the public hearing will be simultaneously translated into Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish. Register to participate in the Board meeting here. For those who would like to view the Board Meeting but not participate, the meeting will be televised on Boston City TV (Xfinity Channel 24, RCN Channel 13, and Verizon Fios Channel 962) and live streamed on Boston.gov.

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