University Finalizes Sale of Putnam Square Apartments Property

The University has finalized the sale of its property at 2 Mt. Auburn St. to nonprofit Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc., ending several months of uncertainty about the future of Putnam Square Apartments, a 94-unit affordable senior housing complex at the site. The deal will preserve affordable housing at the residences for at least 30 years.

All residents are eligible to stay in their current units and rent will continue to be calculated as it was before the sale, according to a letter sent to residents dated Aug. 5. The letter was signed by Thomas J. Lucey, Harvard’s Cambridge director of government relations; Peter Daly, executive director of Homeowner’s Rehab; and John Van Saun, president of the 2 Mt. Auburn Street Tenants Association.

Several improvements are planned for the property, which was valued at $12.8 million in 2013 by the City of Cambridge. The construction will begin “very soon” after the property transfer, according to the letter. There are plans to start work on elevators in the fall and to install new boilers in time for the upcoming winter.

“The building, which Harvard has maintained as affordable housing for seniors for more than 40 years, was a unique property among Harvard’s buildings,” a Harvard spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement this past Friday. “All of the parties involved—residents of the building, City and State government, Harvard, and HRI—share the commitment to preserve the property as affordable for the long term.”

Last fall the University announced its plans to sell the 2 Mt. Auburn property. In March, Harvard entered into a purchase and sale agreement with Homeowner’s Rehab, though the sale was not finalized until recently.

The level of communication between the University and community officials during negotiations prompted concern from the Cambridge City Council, which voted at its meeting at the end of July to request that the City Manager set up a committee “to open up truthful communication” with Harvard about its plans for the property.

—Staff writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.