After a controversy two years ago in which small concentrations of a toxic chemical were found in Harvard graduate student housing at Peabody Terrace, the apartment complex continues to undergo extensive renovations as part of a three-year repair plan.
The project will occur in three phases, in which each of the high-rise buildings in the family-oriented housing structure will be improved through remodeling and waterproofing.
Phase one of the project will be completed in May, and phase two began earlier this month.
“Harvard continuously updates projects to make sure quality housing is available for all students,” said University spokesperson Lauren M. Marshall.
In addition to the structural modifications, Marshall said there will be many aesthetic improvements, including landscaping, enhanced interior lighting, and new bicycle racks.
Despite the high level of occupancy at Peabody Terrace—99 percent of the apartments are currently inhabited—the construction will have a minimal impact on residents.
The apartments have remained open throughout the construction and will continue to be rented as vacancies arise.
Though the project is currently on schedule, it has not been without difficulties.
In fall 2009, small concentrations of a toxic chemical known as Polychlorinated Biphenyls were discovered at Peabody Terrace.
According to Katy Donovan, director of the Peabody Terrace Children’s Center, Harvard Real Estate Services has kept in contact with the PTCC over the findings and collaborated with the center’s administration. The PTCC provides childcare to University affiliated families as well as nearby residents.
“We feel informed at this point,” Donovan wrote in an emailed statement.
Marshall further stated that Harvard Real Estate Services has developed a “comprehensive communication plan” to inform residents of the construction’s progression, including a 24-hour hotline, a website with a schedule of daily updates, and hand-delivered notices informing residents of major construction.
“Prior to signing their leases, prospective tenants have been informed of the project and its schedule,” Marshall said.
“One of the goals of the projects has been to minimize impact on the childcare facility as well as the residents,” she added.
The construction’s primary impact on children living in the complex includes loud work-related noise and strong smells from building materials, according to Donovan. The PTCC will move to a temporary modular building on the grounds at Peabody Terrace this spring.