Harvard May Buy, Build on WBZ Land

After the Boston Globe reported that Harvard is looking to purchase TV and radio station WBZ’s nine-acre property on Soldier’s Field Road, Allston residents and the City of Boston say they are withholding judgment until the University’s plans for the land become more definite.

On Saturday, the Boston Globe reported that WBZ-TV President and general manager Ed Piette said that talks between the University and the station had intensified recently, although they were nowhere near reaching an agreement.

The CBS-owned station, which lies a short walk away from Harvard’s athletic fields, has been in its current location since 1948.

“Harvard has expressed some interest in our property, but we have no deal with the university,” WBZ spokeswoman Ro Dooley Webster told The Crimson yesterday.

Piette told the Globe that talks have included a possible land swap during which WBZ would be relocated to other land that Harvard owns.

Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) spokeswoman Jessica Shumaker said that the city is not opposed to a possible deal at this point, although its approval would depend on Harvard’s plans for the land.

“If Harvard has institutional uses for the property, they would have to vet it through the community and task force first,” Shumaker said.

Harvard Allston Task Force Chairman Ray Mellone also said that it was too early to determine the impact that a possible deal would have on the Allston community.

“It is entirely possible that Harvard will own every piece of land in Allston within the next century,” said Mellone. “But it really depends on what they do with it and whether the community will get to have input.”

Shumaker said that if Harvard and WBZ reached an agreement, the BRA would try to ensure that the station stayed in Boston.

“Looking at the situation now, our biggest concern would be to make sure that WBZ is taken care of,” Shumaker said. “They might be looking to expand to a more digital-friendly space, and our goal would be to help them in any way.”

Allston resident and task force member Harry Mattison said he was disappointed with Harvard’s refusal to openly discuss its expansion plans with the community.

“People have been asking Harvard for months about this rumor that they were going to buy the station, but their representatives have refused to say a word about it, and there’s no discussion with the community about where a good relocation for WBZ might be.” Mattison said.

Harvard officials declined yesterday to comment.

—Staff Writer Nan Ni can be reached at nni@fas.harvard.edu.