University President Drew G. Faust reiterated in an interview yesterday that Harvard remains committed to Allston, saying that determining the future of the Science Complex on Western Ave. is at “the top of the list” for the University.
“We’re looking very hard at the Western Ave. foundation to assess what we can do to move forward there, what makes sense financially and pragmatically for Harvard,” she said. “Some action on that site is very important to us.”
Faust confirmed that the Harvard Allston Work Team’s recommendations are due mid-year and the committee is still working on its report. The Work Team, comprising Harvard faculty and deans, was formed after the construction halt and was tasked with making suggestions for the future of Harvard’s property in Allston.
While plans for Harvard’s development in Allston remain unclear, the University is making short-term efforts to reinvigorate the Allston community, Faust said.
University officials are working to secure occupants for Allston properties that were left vacant following the recent financial crisis that led the University to halt its construction of the Science Complex in Dec. 2009. .
“We didn’t want to leave vacant buildings in a community that felt it had been negatively affected by what we had done or what we were up to,” Faust said.
“We have some new tenants coming in that will bring vibrancy into the community,” she said.
Over the past 12 months, the University has leased its property in Allston to 13 businesses and non-profit organizations—including Genzyme, the Silk Road Project, and the Boston Boxing Club—according to University spokesperson John D. Longbrake.
Most recently, the University leased 182 Western Ave. to Stone Hearth Pizza Co., a local family-style pizza chain.
The University is also currently constructing Library Park, which will sit on a formerly empty lot behind the Honan Public Library in Allston.
The public park, which is slated to open by early summer, will feature a large open grassy space, winding paths, seating, and a rain garden.
Based on the ideas of Harvard Allston Task Force members and local residents, the park will be “an outdoor extension of the library,” wrote University spokesperson Lauren Marshall in an e-mail.
The University is currently determining its priorities for an upcoming capital campaign.
Asked how Allston may fit into that fundraising effort, Faust said that “Allston is a very important part of the future of the University,”
—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at email@example.com.