Local Group Attempts To Block New Hillel

Building Construction May Be Delayed

Construction of the new Harvard Hillel building may have to be postponed due to opposition from a neighborhood group, according to a member of Hillel's board of directors.

The Harvard Square Defense Fund, a Cambridge group which seeks to control development in the Square, is appealing a zoning variance granted to Harvard by the city. The variance allows the University to begin construction of Rosovsky Hall on the Harvard-owned land adjoining the Fly Club garden on Mt. Auburn Street.

The variance was necessary because plans for the new building exceed normal zoning restrictions to accommodate basement rental space for WHRB, according Sarnoff Professor of Business Administration Richard S. Rosenbloom, a member of Hillel's board of directors.

Harvard obtained the needed variance late last year, according to Scott Levitan, Harvard Real Estate's assistant vice-president for construction and planning.

But whether or not the University receives a building permit--which it needs before construction can begin--depends on whether or not the Defense Fund's challenge fails, said Sam Azam, a Cambridge building in spector.


Rosenbloom said the construction of Rosovsky Hall, planned to start in July, may have to be delayed if there is a lengthy appeals process even though he said it will be completely funded.

Although Harvard owns that land and has applied for the needed variance the Hillel is funding all of the construction costs.

The Hillel's capital campaign has achieved "a lot more than half" of its target of eight million dollars, which allows for a "substantial" endowment and the new building, said Rosenbloom.

The Fly Club, which adjoins the planned site of Rosovsky Hall and who many expected to oppose the new Hillel building, has supported Harvard's request of a variance, according to Rosenbloom.

The Defense Fund's president, Gladys P. Gifford, said her group objects to Harvard's lack of compliance with city parking regulations. Gifford also alleged that Cambridge did not consider neighborhood concerns before granting the variance.

Genevieve McMillan and Norman Hurst, owner of the Hurst Gallery, who are both neighbors of the proposed site ofRosovsky Hall, jointly filed the appeal of thevariance with the Defense Fund.

McMillan said she objects to a variance whichallows the building to exceed the city regulationfor the size of the building.

"They want to build a much larger building thanthe land allows," she said.

Gifford said Harvard's "pool" parking system,which she said frequently assigns individualsworking at different buildings to the same parkingspot, violates city parking regulations.

Rosovsky Hall, has been slated to be 22,000square feet in size has no been assigned separateparking facilities, said Gifford.

"The code says you have to designate separateplaces for each new building," she said.