Harvard Is Dropping Realtor; B&G to Handle Maintenance

Harvard is dropping its long-standing property management arrangement wwth Hunneman and Co., Inc., a Boston-based real estate group, and transferring Hunneman's duties to the University's own Buildings and Grounds Department and Real Estate Office.

As Harvard's realtor, Hunneman makes leases, collects rent and provides maintenance service. Such service includes painting and major repair work.

The first phase of the transfer, completed in July, put all married student housing under direct University auspices. The second of the three phases will encompass faculty housing and commercial property in Holyoke Center, leaving only unrestricted housing for the final phases.

No timetable has been set for the changeover under phase two, and the University has not decided whether to centralize management of unrestricted housing, according to Stephen S.J. Hall, vice president for Administration.

The transfer of duties reverses a 40-year-old University relationship with Hunneman. The realtor managed Harvard properties since the 1940s, taking over the married student housing after World War II.

Shepard Brown '50, Hunneman vice president, said yesterday that Harvard decided to drop Hunneman as its realtor about the same time the Bok Administration took office in 1971.

Brown said that Hall informed Hunneman of the decision to drop the realtor 15 months ago.

Many of Hunneman's Cambridge staff have been absorbed by the University's expanded B & G crew, providing 24-hour maintenance for the properties.

Hall said Monday that Hunneman "thinks we'll call them up some day and ask them back." "But Hunneman would agree that if any owner was geared up he could do a good job managing houses," Hall said.

Brown said he thought B & G could handle the maintenance of married student housing, but that "it took some time to accomplish the transition from Hunneman to Harvard."

This is the third in a series of articles on Harvard-owned properties.

"The philosophy of apartment maintenance involves weekend duties," Brown said. "We talked about this at some length with Hall."

Hall said that the University would be able to save money by managing the properties itself instead of paying a management firm to do the job. Commenting on the work invoved in managing the Holyoke Center property, Hall said: "We don't need Hunneman. What does it take to write a ten-year lease?"

Some Harvard tenants have expressed discontent with the maintenance work provided by Hunneman. John Karefa-Smart, a visiting professor of International Health, last year lived in a Harvard-owned house at 14 Scott St., which Hunneman maintained.

"The maintenance was so-so," Karefa-Smart said. "The trees were never trimmed, leaving the living room so dark we could not use it without lights except in the winter."

No Written Policy

William A. Burnham, Jr., property manager for Hunneman's Cambridge office, said there is no written policy regarding the type of maintenance done by the realtor and that which is left to the tenant.

"In general," he said, "all exterior maintenance [grounds keeping] is to be performed by the individual tenant.

EKarefa-Smart was one of 25 faculty and administrators who rent Harvard-owned homes. A Crimson investigation revealed last week that at least 8 of the 25 tenants receive a rental subsidy from the University.

Both Hall and Brown said that Harvard had originally contracted with Hunneman for property management to provide a buffer zone between the University and the tenants.

"I don't feel I have to have a buffer zone," Hall said. "I feel more secure if I'm closer to the students."

He said Hunneman "wasn't providing any buffer advantages. People felt Harvard was the owner, and we were."

Brown said that the decision to transfer maintanance to B & G was "entirely in keeping with the philosophy of the new Administration."

The "new philosophy" broke a traditional arrangement, and not everyone thinks that the tradition should be broken. L. Gard Wiggins, administrative vice-president under President emeritus Nathan M. Pusey '28, said yesterday that "the University should leave things like insurance and real estate to the experts."

An Administration official said that Henry H. Cutler, the manager of the Real Estate office, was not in favor of dropping Hunneman.

Cutler, head of Real Estate while Hunneman's dealings with the University expanded, declined to discuss Harvard's decision to drop Hunneman. He said that Hunneman had acted as the University's realtor and would not elaborate on that relationship