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Claim Harvard Violated Red Line Agreement

By Joshua I. Goldhaber

The Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Association voted unanimously last night to declare that Harvard has, in its view, broken its past promises not to encroach on the city.

Michael F. Brewer, assistant vice president for community affairs, defended the University's dealings with the community, but was unable to convince the association's members that Harvard has kept its commitment not to expand into certain parts of Cambridge.

David Sullivan, a member of the association's project coordinating committee, pointed specifically to Harvard's lease--with an option to purchase in five years--of an apartment building at 18-20 Ware St. Sullivan said the lease violates the spirit of the so-called 1975 "Red Line" agreement with the city.

The agreement is a voluntary commitment by Harvard that it will not buy property outside specified boundaries set at that time. The Ware St. building lies across those boundaries.


Although Harvard has not actually purchased the property. Sullivan said the University has effectively excluded Cambridge residents from living there, because rental will be arranged through the Harvard Housing Office.

"The effect of Harvard's housing policy is that those units will not be available to most people living in Cambridge, but only to affiliates of the Harvard community." Sullivan said.

Brewer said the building's owner would have converted it into condominiums, thereby taking it off the rental market even had Harvard not leased it. "The effect of the lease is to maintain rental property in a building that would have been lost," Brewer said.


Brewer added that Harvard acquired the building because of the possible effects construction of the MBTA Red Line extension might have on University housing near Harvard Square.

"There is a possibility that for some period of time, the temporary relocation of some Harvard students may be necessary. We are hopeful that that will not be necessary," Brewer said.

Sullivan also said he disapproves of the tactics used to evict the residents of the property, and also other property at 8 Mendell St. "Neither set of tenants wishes to leave...I believe their rights under the rent control law are that they don't have to leave, and Harvard is proceeding to attempt to evict them anyway," he said.

Brewer said Harvard evicted the residents because it wishes to renovate 18-20 Ware St. "Right now many of the apartments are literally uninhabitable or are below standard," he said.


He added that the seven tenants remaining in the building have been offered the services of the Harvard Housing Office, and that to date, four have accepted the offer.

Brewer also repeated Harvard's ex- pansion plans for the next ten to 15 years. These include the expansion of the Fogg Museum as well as plans to develop the area behind Gund Hall, Graduate School of Design.

Brewer said afterwards that he disagreed with the association's vote, which he termed "predictable.

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