University Acquires Allston Land

After years of negotiations, Charlesview owner agrees to land swap

A year of negotiations between Harvard and the owner of the Charlesview Apartment complex culminated in the signing of a purchase and sale agreement today, bringing the University one step closer to completing the picture of its proposed campus in Allston.

The sale will give the University access to the five-acre plot on which the apartments currently reside for future development. Charlesview—a low-cost apartment complex located next to Harvard Business School—will relocate to a 6.9-acre plot further down Western Avenue.

While Harvard’s director for community relations in Boston, Kevin A. McCluskey '76, said that there are no definitive plans for the site—the entrance to Harvard’s proposed campus—an arts and culture complex is one of the ideas that has been put forward.

The decision comes after three years of negotiations to locate a suitable site for the apartment relocation and a year of talks to reach an agreement favorable for Charlesview residents.

“From our perspective, it’s something that has been forecast very clearly as a possibility,” said McCluskey. “That corner, from a broader planning perspective, has been viewed by the neighborhood, Harvard, and the city as a potential crossroads between the neighborhood and the University.”

Felicia Jacques, the development manager for The Community Builders Inc.—Charlesview’s developer which has led the

negotiations since 2004—said that the agreement will prove beneficial for the apartment’s residents.

Charlesview—the grey, monolithic apartments that were erected in the 1960s—was identified by the federal government as a troubled property in need of repairs in 1995. Jacques said that the future site will allow the community to relocate to up-to-date facilities that give them access to green space while remaining affordable.

“We’re very excited to get started on building this new affordable housing for North Allston and Brighton,” she said.

Raisa Shapiro, who has lived in the complex for the last 17 years, said she is excited about the agreement.

“I’m 100 percent happy about this because the place that we are living in is unlivable,” she said. “The place that I’m living is filled with mice and diseases.”

Jacques said that Community Builders will submit a proposal to the Boston Redevelopment Authority by the end of the year. Construction of the new complex is expected to take two and a half to three years.

The Charlesview Residents Organization, a groups of tenants, has protested the planned land-swap in the past. Lucia Velasquez, the group’s president, declined to comment last night.

—Staff writer Laura A. Moore can be reached at lamoore@fas.harvard.edu.