With Harvard’s help, grocery chain Trader Joe’s will open a new store in Allston next year at Continuum, a residential and retail complex built on Harvard-owned land.
The store will occupy a 13,000-square foot portion of the ground floor of Continuum, which sits on the corner of North Harvard Street and Western Ave., south of Harvard Stadium. Interested in developing the neighborhood around the University’s developments, Harvard administrators helped alleviate concerns about limited parking to facilitate the store’s arrival.
Joel Sklar, the president of Boston-based real estate developer Samuels & Associates, presented the first details about the new Trader Joe’s to Allstonians at a meeting of the Harvard-Allston Task Force on Monday night. Harvard chose Samuels & Associates to develop the site in 2012.
“When we first came in here we felt there was a need for an anchor, some critical mass of retail here, not just for the building but to create energy on the street,” Sklar said. “We’re thrilled that Trader Joe’s is coming.”
Sklar said Trader Joe’s first came to Samuels and expressed interest in leasing the property from Continuum roughly eight or nine months ago. Negotiations were delayed, however, by concerns over Continuum’s limited parking space, according to Sklar.
After several months of discussions between representatives from Harvard, Samuels, and Trader Joe’s, Harvard agreed to repurpose its landholdings at 175 N. Harvard St., on the former site of the Harvard Ed Portal, as extra parking space to accommodate the increased demand from Trader Joe’s customers, Sklar said.
Harvard has yet to go to the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals to obtain a permit for the new parking area, Sklar added. The University will seek a parking permit in coordination with Trader Joe’s efforts to obtain a liquor permit from the City of Boston for the store.
As Sklar wrapped up his presentation, interim task force chair John A. Bruno gave his own thoughts with cautious optimism.
“This is a wealth of information,” he said. “To some people it may be exciting, to some people not so exciting.”
Benjamin I. Pleat ’17, meanwhile, called the new Trader Joe’s an “amazing” development both for the Allston neighborhood and for Harvard students involved with the Harvard Innovation Lab. The i-lab, the oldest of three entrepreneurial centers Harvard operates in Allston, is on 125 Western Ave., close by Continuum.
“We’re there all the time,” said Pleat, who participates in the i-lab’s Venture Incubation Program. “So it [will be] super convenient for us to literally go right across the street to get a sandwich, get some groceries from Trader Joe’s.”
Pleat also noted that the new Trader Joe’s may help to foster interaction between Harvard affiliates and Allston residents, one of the stated goals driving Harvard’s Allston developments.
“I think what we [will see] is a kind of mixed use,” he said. “I think there will be a really good convergence of residents of the building, [the] general Allston community… I imagine a bunch of start-up students from the i-lab will go there all the time.”
Harvard Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp wrote in an emailed statement that “this new retail will increase the vibrancy and vitality of the community and continue to serve the needs of faculty, staff, students, and our neighbors alike.”
—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.