As Investor Interest in Allston Grows, Opportunities for Prospective Homeowners Dwindle

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Allstonians also noted the need for a strong city response to negligent landlords.

Allston resident Matthew Danish noted that community members were pleased with an new inspection program that went into effect in January. The program requires property owners to register unoccupied properties with the city and pay a $25 registration fee per property, with property inspections once every five years. Though some landlords claim the program is a burden, Danish sees it as the city “stepping up inspection services” and helping those in need.

Allston residents often emphasize the potential for development on the vast tracts of Harvard-owned land in North Allston, especially the undeveloped property along Western Avenue, for commercial and residential purposes.

“Harvard has a lot of vacant land at a time when there’s a desperate need for housing,” Robertson said, adding that the community was very pleased with the Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons, where the University partnered with a private developer to build private housing as well as retail space.

The University included a $3 million homeownership stabilization fund in its community benefits package to Allston. The package is part of Harvard’s institutional master plan and was approved last November by the Harvard-Allston Task Force, an advisory board the BRA has charged with acting as a liaison between the neighborhood, the city, and the University.

For her part, Brigid O’Rourke, Harvard’s communications officer for University planning and community programs, wrote in an email that Harvard and the BRA are still crafting the specific details of the cooperation agreement that includes the fund, which will be managed by a third-party organization.

“Community members recognize that there are no easy answers,” Danish said, even as the University and the city have begun to confront Allstonians’ concerns over the changing nature of the neighborhood’s housing stock. The extent to which Harvard’s development will bring other real estate developers to Allston also remains to be seen and emphasizes the uncertainty of the future of the patterns that worry residents, he added.

In the meantime, for prospective homeowners looking to buy in Allston, the struggle to compete with investors’ deep pockets is unlikely to change.

—Staff writer Karl M. Aspelund can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kma_crimson.

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