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BRA Approves Harvard's Institutional Master Plan

By Marco J. Barber Grossi, Crimson Staff Writer

The Boston Redevelopment Authority board unanimously passed Harvard’s Institutional Master Plan for development in Allston Thursday evening. The plan calls for nine projects that will be completed over the next ten years, representing the first step in Harvard’s long-term vision for its Allston campus.

The IMP’s nine projects will comprise approximately 1.4 million square feet of new development and 500,000 square feet of renovations.

Notable projects within the IMP include the construction of a new executive education facility at the Harvard Business School, renovations and an addition to Harvard Stadium, and the replacement of Harvard’s existing basketball facility.

Representatives from the Boston mayor’s office, members of the task force, and representatives from the offices of state legislators–along with numerous members of various labor unions from the Boston area–spoke in support of the IMP.

Task force member Tim McHale said he was “happy to be endorsing Harvard’s Institutional Master Plan” which came as the result of “hundreds of meetings and thousands of hours.”

Paul Berkeley, another member of the task force, also pledged his support for the plan, saying, “We’ve reached the point where the confidence level is such that we can move forward.”

Harris S. Band, the University’s senior director of Allston master planning, said that the IMP represents part of Harvard’s “vision of transformation” for an area that is currently “[vehicularly] oriented, largely impenetrable to pedestrians, and includes minimum streetscape amenities.”

“We’re very proud of this master plan and we believe it benefits not just Harvard but also the community and the city,” Band said.

The projects within the IMP will parallel construction of a science complex on Western Ave. that will house the engineering school and a mixed-use development at Barry’s Corner including both residential and retail space that is slated to break ground this fall.

Band called the Barry’s Corner facility the crossroads between the University and the community.

The IMP approved by the BRA board outlines only the project planning portion of the University’s Allston development, and does not include an additional community benefits package.

Community benefits have been hotly debated in weekly meetings between the University and the Harvard-Allston Task Force this past summer and fall. The BRA board will review the community benefits package next month.

Harvard affiliates and others who spoke in support of the IMP emphasized the importance of the relationship between the University and the community during Harvard’s continued expansion into Allston. Consuelo Gonzales-Thornhell, treasurer of the BRA board, described the trust of the community that she saw reflected in the development plans.

“Harvard has come a long way. I am very impressed by the way you responded [to input from the community and the city] and by the plans you have set before us,” she said. “I could not let this evening go by without congratulating you for that.”

—Staff writer Marco J. Barber Grossi can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @marco_jbg.

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