Harvard’s Allston campus takes big step forward

Deal with city shows enormous potential of project

THE ENORMOUS POTENTIAL of Harvard University’s land-holdings in Allston began to take shape on Tuesday as the city and the school unveiled an agreement detailing plans for the initial 9.4 acres of what’s being called an enterprise research campus.

The plan calls for 900,000 square feet of new development, with 49 percent of the space going for offices and labs, 29 percent for 345 residences and retail, 15 percent for a 250-room hotel, and nearly 7 percent for a conference center. Open space will account for nearly a third of the initial parcel.

Harvard agreed to make 86 of the 345 residential units affordable to people making between 30 and 100 percent of the area median income, which city officials said is the largest percentage ever agreed to by a private developer.

The university also committed to making 20 percent of future residential development affordable and agreed to donate nearly an acre of land on Seattle Street to an affordable housing developer. The school also pledged $25 million over the next 12 years to create affordable housing in Allston-Brighton.

The agreement, which is scheduled for a vote by the Boston Planning and Development Agency on Thursday, projects $10 million in annual real estate revenue for the city, 2,300 permanent jobs, and 2,000 construction jobs.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu issued a statement hailing the agreement with Harvard. “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,” she said. “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.”

Harvard said it expects nearly all of the development will run on electricity provided by on-site renewables and an energy facility the university is building on Western Avenue.

Harvard also pledged significant resources for pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle movement in the area, including a new eastbound “transit lane” on Western Avenue for buses. Of the 580 parking spaces to be built during the first phase of the Allston buildout, Harvard said 300 will be below ground and 25 percent will be equipped with power chargers and all will be capable of adding chargers in the future.