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Harvard officials said last week they are slowly vacating a University-owned apartment building on Mt. Auburn St., in preparation for large-scale renovation, demolition or sale of the property.
Tenants are not being replaced as they leave the 122 Mt. Auburn St. building, which the University has owned for several years. "The apartments are in bad shape, and besides, whatever we decide to do, it will be more cost-effective if we do it all at once." Sally Zeckhauser, president of Harvard Real Estate, said last week.
University officials said the developers of parcel 1B, a proposed large-scale commercial development adjoining the apartment building, have been promised first chance at the site. "The rumor currently is that the developer may not be interested in the building," Michael F. Brewer, assistant vice-president for government and community affairs, said last week.
If it is not sold to the parcel 1B developers, the land will be used for institutional purposes, student or open housing, Zeckhauser said. "It can't continue on in its present form," she added.
Some community officials, including tenant organizer David Sullivan, said the University should refrain from taking the rent-controlled units off the housing market.
Zeckhauser said, however, "We've overall added, not subtracted, from the Cambridge housing stock."
Sullivan also charged that the agreement with the parcel 1B developers, combined with the recent University purchases along Mass Ave, indicate that Harvard plans to move the business center of the Square to the Southwest, near Brattle Square, so the Mass Ave properties could be used as classrooms.
"We would like to stabilize that (the southwest) corner of the Square-parcel 1B will help do that, "Zeckhauser said. Brewer said last month, however, that the University had no plans to use the Mass Ave properties for academic purposes. "Everyone has his theories," Brewer said.
Mirian Donovan, the proprietor of the Thomas More bookstore, said last week the University offered to relocate her business in 122 Mt. Auburn. "They said, though, that it might be torn down soon," Donovan said
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