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Construction for the first phase of Harvard’s Enterprise Research Campus in Allston is set to begin this week, after developer Tishman Speyer announced that it secured financing for the project last Friday.
Tishman Speyer — the developer that the Harvard Allston Land Corporation selected in 2019 to lead the project’s first phase — acquired $750 million to finance the ERC. According to the company, this sum represents the largest financing package reported to date in the United States in 2023.
The money will fund the University’s 900,000-square-foot development, which represents about 5 percent of Harvard’s land holdings in Allston. The ERC will include laboratories and offices, a University conference center, residential areas, and more than two acres of public open space.
Carl J. Rodrigues — the CEO of the Harvard Allston Land Company — wrote in a press release that the company is “excited” to see the project progress, and believes the ERC will be a resource to both the Harvard and Allston communities.
“This project will create new opportunities and places for students, faculty and our neighbors in Allston, and will complement the cutting-edge institutional research taking place on Harvard’s campus and throughout the region,” Rodrigues wrote.
Construction beginning on the ERC is the latest step in Harvard’s more than 30-year move into Allston. Harvard began secretly buying Allston land in 1989 — today, the University holds 360 acres across the river, roughly a third of the neighborhood. After plans for the ERC debuted in 2011, concerned residents formed the Coalition for a Just Allston and Brighton to demand increased consideration for residential sustainability and affordability.
To address residents’ anxieties, Harvard has invested tens of millions in local housing and transportation initiatives, centered public green spaces within new developments, and committed to building affordable housing within the first phase of the ERC development.
Following negotiations with Boston city officials in 2022, Harvard agreed to ensure that 25 percent of all new housing units in the first phase will be affordable for individuals earning between 30 and 100 percent of area median income, or $44,520 to $148,400 for a family of four. In total, this will amount to about 86 new affordable housing units in the initial phase of the ERC development.
While Harvard works with Boston to increase affordable housing in the area, residents have continued to raise displacement concerns.
As the average rent of Allston studio apartments has increased more than 80 percent since 2019, residents have struggled to meet rising housing costs. With the percentage of immediate available spaces in Allston at a low of 0.32 percent, the University’s forthcoming construction efforts come as locals worry about residential stability and affordability.
Rob Speyer, CEO of Tishman Speyer, wrote in a press release that he believes the ERC will be an “inclusive community driven by innovation and human connection.”
“Together, we are creating a destination within Allston that will inspire local residents, families and visitors along with students, researchers, and entrepreneurs,” Speyer wrote.
On June 14, Tishman Speyer pulled nearly $500 million in building permits for three upcoming projects on Western Avenue. Construction on a 16-story hotel, laboratory, and an apartment building with 343 units will begin this week. Tishman Speyer predicts that the buildings will open in late 2025 or early 2026.
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