Forum leaders encouraged attendees to voice their dissatisfaction with the proposal by contacting their elected representatives and signing a petition addressed to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).
While the meeting focused on using civic action to alter Charlesview’s fate, some residents expressed frustration with Harvard’s powerful position.
“I sense fear here, and we’re all asking, ‘What are we going to lose now?’” Allston resident Leonard W. Kelliher said. “We’re strictly on the defense, trying to stop [Harvard] from doing this, but they’re just moving on in.”
No representatives from Harvard were present at the meeting last night.
Charlesview—a low-cost, five-acre apartment complex currently located next to Harvard Business School—will be moved to a 6.9-acre plot further down Western Avenue as part of a land swap finalized last November.
An arts-and-culture complex is one idea that has been proposed for the site that sits at the entrance of Harvard’s future expanded campus.
In addition to relocating the existing 213 Charlesview units, the proposal outlines 69 additional affordable rental units and up to 118 home ownership units.
At last night’s meeting, the density of the proposed complex was the main concern raised by residents. While the neighborhood now has about 30 people per acre, the blueprint plans for more than 100 people per acre. It also includes a 10-story building that residents say is incompatible with the two- and three-story buildings that make up the rest of the neighborhood.
“It’s going to look like Manhattan but not with the Manhattan income,” resident Edward Oloskey said. “We’ll never see the sun again. It’s going to be a nightmare.”
Residents also demanded more condos, retail space, and parkland, in addition to greater income diversity among the residents of the proposed Charlesview apartments.
In mid-February, Community Builders, Inc., the firm that has led negotiations with Harvard on behalf of Charlesview since 2004, filed a project notification form with BRA, a move that kicked off a period of soliciting public feedback.
Harvard’s hands-off approach to the Charlesview relocation has been the subject of strong criticism from residents. Although Harvard is funding the relocation of the complex, it has left the details of the process to Community Builders Inc.
“Harvard’s refusal to help is a slap in the face,” resident Helena Creamer said. “It bodes very badly for what we can anticipate in our future dealings with them.”
—Staff writer Nan Ni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.