Harvard will receive input from Allston residents to help them decide on a third-party developer for the Housing Commons and Barry’s Corner Retail at the Harvard-Allston Task Force meeting Wednesday. Task-Force members said that, in addition to deciding on a developer, they hope to receive more concrete details from Harvard about the Barry’s Corner complex and the Allston Science Center.
Task Force Chair Ray V. Mellone said that aiding Harvard’s search for a developer who will balance both Harvard’s and the community’s goals will be a prominent feature of the meeting.
“It’s important that we engage in a give and take with Harvard,” Mellone said. “I think that Harvard’s interests and the community’s interests can be aligned, and we want to help them choose a developer who can bring our shared goals to life.”
In 2005, the University announced that it would foster the development of a “main street” environment on Western Avenue, including Barry’s Corner, which sits on the corner of Western Ave. and North Harvard Street. But this vision was put on hold when Harvard’s tumbling endowment compelled the University to indefinitely pause the construction of its Allston Science Complex in Dec. 2009.
Harvard resumed planning for Allston in 2011, when the Harvard Corporation and University President Drew G. Faust approved recommendations for development made by the Harvard Allston Work Team. The Work Team, which dissolved thereafter, comprised a group of Harvard faculty charged with the task of analyzing Harvard’s Allston holdings after the construction freeze.
In Sept. 2011, Harvard Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp announced that the University would move forward with the first phase of its new plan, which is set to include developing the Barry’s Corner area, devising a new design for a science center, and planning for the land on which the current Charlesview Apartment Complex sits.
Task Force member Brent C. Whelan ’73 emphasized the importance of establisihing a “joint project” between Harvard and Allston residents in moving forward with a developer for Barry’s Corner.
He said that the primary goal of many Allston residents is to ensure that Harvard does not push its own agenda while leaving Allston residents’ voice out of the planning process.
“We’re going to push for a larger commitment on Harvard’s part to develop our community and not just develop its particular projects,” Whelan said.
Whelan added that many residents hope Harvard will reveal more details of its plans for Barry’s Corner.
“With Barry’s Corner, we’re hoping to get to the part where we can talk substantively about an integrative housing complex,” Whelan said. “Harvard was pretty elusive last time, so hopefully we can get something more tangible this time.”
But for Task Force Member Rita M. DiGesse, the meeting tomorrow night will have a different focus. She said that she—and many other Allston residents—want to make sure that Harvard commits to finishing its science center before it takes on another development project.
“Harvard has talked about buildings and apartments, and there’s a lot to be looked into there,” she said. “I think the priority for a lot of people is that, before they do all that, they give us a break and finish the Science Center.”
—Mercer R. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.