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Harvard reaches deal with city to construct 1st phase of mixed-use Allston development

Elected officials in Boston have agreed to back the start of Harvard's long-planned expansion into Allston, after the two sides reached an agreement on how much affordable housing and public open space the first phase of the mixed development must include.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency plans to vote to approve the 900,000-square-foot project — a mix of labs, offices, housing and commercial space that has been in the works for over two decades — at its board meeting Thursday.

Harvard agreed to make 25% of the project's 345 housing units income-restricted (in other words, affordable for lower-to-middle-income residents) and pay $25 million to set up a fund to support affordable housing in Allston-Brighton.

The deal also includes plans to create three acres of open space, an Allston Greenway and improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.

The 25% affordability commitment does not go as far as the 33% minimum some activists had pushed for, but is almost double Boston's 13% requirement for big projects. Harvard's developer Tishman Speyer previously resisted going above 17%.

“The development of Harvard’s land in Allston is of such scale and scope that the impact will shape generations to come — we must get this right for our communities," Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. "The package before the board for this first phase represents a remarkable step forward for housing affordability, green space, workforce development, and community planning resources to ensure careful alignment with neighborhood needs."

Tony D’Isidoro, the president of the Allston Civic Association, said the deal announced Tuesday represented "tremendous progress."

This first phase accounts for 14 of the 36 acres covered by Harvard's planned Enterprise Research Campus. And in total, the university is looking to develop 140 acres in Allston. So, as D’Isidoro said Tuesday, "there's more work to be done."

A public hearing for the proposal will be held online this Thursday at 5:40 p.m.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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