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Members of the Harvard Allston Task Force argued in a letter to the Boston Redevelopment Authority that the Tata Hall project represents an opportunity for the University to develop the community.
Tata Hall is a proposed additional wing in the Harvard Business School that will house classrooms and living accommodations for professionals in the executive education program.
A formal presentation of the letter will be reviewed next Thursday by the BRA Board, BRA spokesperson Susan Elsbree said.
“Next week is when we will make a decision and a recommendation to our board whether or not we are going to move forward on the Tata Hall project,” she said.
The recommendations—the product of a month-long discussion that continues to be open to public suggestions—stated that the construction could contribute green space and increase safe access to the Charles River.
“We believe it is imperative that there be no net loss of greenspace and that one acre of new, public greenspace should be created to mitigate the loss of greenspace created by the Tata Hall project,” the letter stated.
The Task Force wrote that the construction of Tata Hall would give Harvard the opportunity to reinvigorate Allston by improving the accessibility of the Charles River to the community.
“Right outside the Tata Hall pedestrian walkway there are no ramps, so people who are handicapped or pushing a stroller cannot use the thing,” said Allston resident Harry E. Mattison. “Wouldn’t it make a whole lot of sense to combine the construction of Tata Hall with the reconstruction of these overpass ramps?”
In June, concerns were raised over whether or not Harvard should be starting new development projects when construction on the Allston Science Complex—a would-be mecca for stem cell research—was halted indefinitely in 2009 due to financial constraints.
But if the $100 million project—funded in part by $50 million from Tata Trusts and Companies, a philanthropic wing of the Indian conglomerate Tata Group—is approved, Elsbree said it will also be an investment in neighborhood jobs.
“There are community concerns we need to consider,” she said.
Other suggestions for community development included preferential hiring of local residents for construction jobs; the use of third-party developers to build the project; and a confirmation from Harvard that the Education Portal—which provides University-run educational programs for the Allston community—will continue to operate beyond 2018, when the University’s obligation under the Science Complex Cooperation Agreement ends.
“We believe all stakeholders deserve a clear understanding of how and when future planning, development, and land acquisition by Harvard might occur,” the letter stated.
—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at email@example.com
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