Harvard’s proposal for the Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons in Allston was unanimously approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority board Thursday evening. The project is slated to break ground in the fall of 2013.
The approval came after months of often-heated negotiations between the University and Allston residents, who have frequently voiced frustration at what they say they perceive as Harvard’s lack of dedication to community benefits.
The Barry’s Corner commons, located at the intersection of Western Avenue and North Harvard Street, will contain 325 rental residential units over 40,000 square feet of retail space.
Leslie G. Cohen, the senior vice president of development at Samuels & Associates—the firm charged with developing Barry’s Corner for Harvard—wrote in a statement that the complex is “a key component in the creation of a new, vibrant, pedestrian-friendly destination in the North Allston neighborhood.”
According to a statement from the BRA, Harvard’s proposal consists of several community-oriented components, including the creation of new open spaces at Barry’s Corner and transportation improvements to facilitate car and bike sharing.
However, Allston resident Harry E. Mattison said that community benefits and concerns were not adequately addressed by the proposal.
“Harvard committed to a balance between what was good for the University and what was good for the residential community,” Mattison said. “That balance was thrown out the window.”
Mattison said that the proposal failed to adequately address community anxieties about public spaces and transportation. He also expressed concern about the expected rents of the residential units, which he said were higher than initially proposed and therefore less accessible to lower income residents.
Harvard associate vice president of public affairs and communications Kevin Casey said that the development would stimulate the neighborhood economy.
“The ... Commons is the first project in a decade-long vision for Harvard development in Allston ... and will bring economic development to the area and strengthen community connections,” he wrote in an email statement.
The Barry’s Corner complex is part of a larger series of plans for the University’s development in Allston. Other proposed developments include a new science complex, a new basketball arena, and a hotel and conference center.
—Staff writer Marco J. Barber Grossi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @marco_jbg.
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