Allston: Charlesview Proposal Incomplete

As plans progress for the relocation of the Charlesview Apartments further down Western Avenue in order make room for the University’s expanding campus, some Allston residents say they are disappointed that Harvard will not play a more active role in building the new complex.

“I still think that Harvard could play more of a role in the development, especially since they were the ones who caused this to happen,” said President of the Allston Civic Association Paul Berkeley. “They have an obligation to make sure that the community is happy.”

Last week, Community Builders, Inc.—which has led negotiations with Harvard on behalf of Charlesview since 2004—filed a project notification form with the city.

In addition to relocating the existing 213 Charlesview units to a 6.9-acre plot, the proposal outlines 69 additional affordable rental units and up to 118 home ownership units.

Once the apartments are relocated, the University will have access to the five-acre plot near Harvard Business School on which the low-cost complex currently reside. An arts and culture complex is one of the ideas that has been put forth for the site that sits at the entrance of Harvard’s future campus.

But some residents have cited building height and density in addition to Harvard’s hands-off approach as major drawbacks of the project.

Although Harvard is sponsoring the redevelopment process, the University is not directly involved with the planning of the new Charlesview complex.

Harvard’s Director of Community Relations for Boston Kevin A. McCluskey ’76 said that the work of developing the new Charlesview should be left to Community Builders, Inc.

“We worked very cooperatively with the board to craft this agreement and to maintain Charlesview as an important housing resource for the community,” he said. “But at this stage, it is now a project that is to be proposed by the Charlesview board and developers.”

Boston Redevelopment Authority spokeswoman Jessica Shumaker said that she was optimistic that the dialogue between the developers and the members of the community would yield improvements to the current proposal.

“I think a lot of the issues that the residents are concerned about now will be worked out through the process,” said Shumaker, whose agency oversees redevelopment projects in the city. “When the developer files, it’s just the beginning.”

Public comment period for the project ends March 31.

However, Harvard Allston Task Force member Harry Mattison, said he worried that the University’s distance from the process might result in a shortcomings.

“I think it’s pretty clear that at some point, Harvard needs to be part of creating a project that is up to its standards,” he said. “Is this going to be a place where Harvard staff and faculty could live, and would want to live? And if not, why not?”

—Staff writer Nan Ni can be reached at