As Relocation Moves Forward, Charlesview Residents Remain Divided

Crimson News Staff

As part of a University land swap, the Charlesview Apartments will be relocated from Allston (right) to the site of the Brighton Mills Shopping Center (left).

Residents of the Charlesview Apartments, an affordable housing complex in Allston, remain divided about their land swap deal with Harvard, a plan that moved forward this Tuesday when a not-for-profit financing agency announced that it closed a multimillion dollar loan to fund the relocation of the apartments.

The 2007 land swap agreement between the University and the Charlesview Board would move the Allston apartments into Brighton, freeing land for Harvard to use. On Tuesday, MassHousing, the financing agency, said that it had closed a $106.2 million loan with Charlesview to fund construction in Brighton.

But that deal still has Charlesview residents divided, with some uncertain about the move and others excited about the prospects of relocation.

"I think the new location is great," said Paul R. Terrio, a 75-year-old Charlesview resident who has lived in the housing development since it first opened in 1971. "[The Charlesview Board of Directors] have done well by us. They showed us a diagram, with what the buildings are going to be like, and it’s going to be nice. They’ll have a barber shop. They’ll have all kinds of things."

Terrio added that the new location will be less isolated.

"[Charlesview] is like an island here. If you look at this, everything is Harvard, and there’s no other people."

Nancy T. Thach, who has lived at Charlesview for two years, was less optimistic about the land swap.

“A lot of people don’t want to move because they thought the rent might go up. I don’t want to move again," she said. "Where I have to live now, it’s fine with me."

Malena Som, who has been a resident of the Charlesview for five years, said she believes many residents are apathetic to the process.

“It’s frustrating because of the fact that we have to move to a different location—but it’s literally right there,” she said, pointing to the site less than a half mile down Western Avenue where the Charlesview will soon be located. “We have no idea what’s going on, we just know that we’re moving sometime. I think [the residents] just don’t care. They’re just curious as to… if it’s going to end up smoothly or not.”

The Community Builders, a project developer, estimate that that the project will be completed by the summer of 2013, though several residents noted that groundbreaking on the new site has barely begun.

Amanda N. Holm '05, who grew up in the Charlesview, said she believes the most frustrating aspect of the agreement with Harvard and upcoming move for residents has been how long it has taken—the land swap was first floated in 2003.

“I’ve reconnected with some friends I grew up with,” she said. “It’s a constant source of debate for them, since it was up in air for so long. That was the most exhausting thing."

—Staff writer Leanna B. Ehrlich can be reached at lehrlich@college.harvard.edu.

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