Tenants Angered by University Actions

May Convert One Building

The University is considering asking the city for permission to convert a large Mt. Auburn St. apartment building from rental housing to some other use. Sally Zeckhauser, president of Harvard Real Estate (HRE), said yesterday.

"It's something the University is thinking about--the final decision will be made in Massachusetts Hall. The building is their asset." Zeckhauser said, adding that the University "hopes to come to a determination on the building fairly quickly." Other Harvard officials were unavailable for comment.

Tenants in the 65-unit building on the corner of Mt. Auburn St. and University Road hung a banner from the front of the building yesterday reading "Save our Homes." A tenant spokesman, Meredith Scammell, told the Cambridge City Council last night that "Cambridge cannot afford to have a building as big as ours sitting empty."

Harvard has refused to rent apartments as they have become vacant in the building for the past two years--currently, 16 units are empty. HRE officials have said in the past that they hope to clear the building to allow for easier repairs.

If the University was to use the building for some purpose other than rental housing, they would have to ask the city for a "removal permit." Past cases, including the December decision of 7 Sumner Rd., indicate that Harvard will have to show it has replaced the homes with comparable units before a removal permit is granted.


"My guess is that if we apply for a removal permit it will be with the intention of putting in replacement housing." Zeckhauser said

She added that final decisions on the uses of two neighboring properties. Parcel lB and the DiGiovanni parking lot-- which will become major office-housing complexes with some retail stores--helped the "position of the (Mt. Auburn St. apartment building) become more clear....In the past, that area has always been in a state of flux," she said