Yeah, whatever happened to that?
The university presented this plan to quell the community's anger about students living off campus in the area. Then the community got up in arms about them building the tower. It's a no win situation for Northeastern, and frankly if I were them I'd tell the people in the area to pound sand from here on out.
Dormitory towers are good news for everyone concerned. They concentrate undergraduates in a limited area, allowing for better provision of services and (frankly) supervision and policing; allow the university to expand to meet its needs without pushing out its neighbors; and enhance the urban density which is the basic attraction of urban living in the first place.
The opposition to Northeastern's plan was always insane. Neighborhood groups should've been pushing Northeastern to think more aggressively about the future. Seventeen stories is, if anything, under-ambitious. It all but guarantees that there'll be a new dorm proposal within the next decade. Why not thirty stories?
Are the universities showing their full hand? One thing you have to be careful about is that the universities publicly will state that they want to build a dorm to get more kids to live on campus and reduce all the problems of institutional use of private housing stock. Only problem is several years later you realize that they built space for say 250 kids only to expand their student population by 300 kids - so net/net the community doesn't benefit. If you want to build something like this (I'm assuming it doesn't meet zoning so it needs various levels of approvals/variances), you make it contingent on a constant student population and you need some teeth in the controls such as a freeze on building permits for the university until they fulfill their promises.
It's a hard question. Despite the angst, the universities are an important part of the urban fabric and should be encouraged to thrive - but the town/gown issues, especially when the gowns pay no taxes - is a difficult conundrum.
NU isn't expanding their student population. It has been shrinking it in order to move up in the US News and World Reports rankings. Their profit model is to get higher quality, higher paying students, living on campus where every living expense gets paid to the university. Increasing enrollment would be counter to everything NU has done since becoming fixated on improving their school rankings and desperately trying to attract better faculty and larger research grants.
If Northeastern was in such a fix about building a new dorm, why didn't they build it on their own campus? Cash strapped? Poor planning? Why not sell one of their own buildings to Phoenix to build on and use the money (20M at last report) to address issues of "quality of classroom, lab, office and research space" as the article points out? Were they some how caught off guard by needing to house their own students? Why wasn't that a priority of they last fundraising campaign?
Perhaps local residents don't like the idea of sacrificing a local institution that they utilize for the sake of NU's poor planning. As others have pointed out, housing on NU is prohibitively expensive for some students (compared to off campus options). Why not make cheaper on campus housing for their own students a priority? They add 1200 new beds with their new dorm but the cost stays high--forcing students off campus.
Perhaps local residents feel that after all is said and done, they will lose out on something that they use and the NU's core housing problem will not be addressed--a lose lose situation.
"Perhaps local residents don't like the idea of sacrificing a local institution"
Perhaps 'local residents' (most of the complainants to this project do not live in the East Fenway) don't understand that the YMCA has been looking to liquidate the Huntington Branch in its entirety for years; and that by delaying this project the YMCA will not be raise the funds needed to renovate the remaining facility and keep it open. The alternative to selling part of the now over sized and underutilized Central YMCA Branch IS TO SELL THE WHOLE THING. What's worse loosing the whole branch or allowing the branch to downsize to meet the current needs of the membership with a facility which can be financially sustained with the current level of patronage?
NU has been repeatedly asked, if not demanded, to build more on campus housing and this project does just that. Mind you without removing any taxable land from the city coffers and not on a residential block. This is a prime example of one institution helping another and mutually benefiting each other in a land/financial swap, but both the university and the YMCA profoundly failed to explain that situation to everyone aggrieved by the project. It's like neither institution had a PR plan from the get go.
Sadly the 'Save the Y' clowns are going to doom the very place they want to save if the delays continue much longer. I sincerely doubt another developer interested in this potentially very large site will pay much attention them should this deal fall through.
"P.R. plan"? NU and the y had a P.R. plan.
For NU it was to hire john robin, former city Councilor as VP of Community Relations and have him dissemble in front of the BRA. Mayor Meninio announced this as a done deal even before the Article 80/citizen review process had begun.
Former D.A. Ralph Martin is now the the public face of the NU team.
NU and Y had a P.R. plan. They do not have a morally justifiable plan.
The Y hired former BRA member Kelley Rice as Communications Director to slide this by the membership and various neighborhood groups.
I am a Y member, attended NU and have lived in the East Fenway for 31 of the last 34 years.
I want NU to build more dorms not less.
NU already owns Gainsborough Garage/Checker Cab and Cullinane Hall. On 3/16/11 Mr. Tobin said that it wasn't "economic" for NU to build on those properties because NU's "investments tanked in the recessionary environment of 2008".
In other words the Y membership and the neighborhood should bear the brunt of NU's investment ineptitude.
NU has not provided evidence that they cannot afford to build on property they already own.
Methinks that NU will develop Gainsborough Garage and Cullinane Hall anyway and continue to grow now that they have improved their academic standing.
Already bar room scuttlebutt has 373 Huntington Ave and 464 Huntington Ave slated for the wrecking ball.
The "dorm" will be built and operated by Phoenix/Lincoln a Dallas-based developer for 15 years after which NU has an option to buy it. Thus for 15 years the "dorm" will be on the tax rolls. This is the reason why Mayor Menino supports the project.
NU's 2 year requirement for on-campus residence will not take any students from the neighborhoods. Students want to drink and smoke and they will go to the areas they always will. A 1-bedroom on Westland Ave for $2000 can house 3 kids without RAs.
The youthful users of the Y will bear the brunt of this project as they are not full-fledged members and are not of voting age.
Let me remind you that the Y is a MA Historical Commission place and the "proponents" of cannot act without the approval of the MA Historical Commission.
The 4/24/2011 BOSTON GLOBE reports that NU paid less than $32K on $2.1 Billion in real estate holdings through the PILOT/Payment in lieu of taxes program.
Adding to the problem: Mumbles. One of his major institutional hard-ons is going around to colleges demanding they build more dorms, and then turning around and refusing to help when the colleges inevitably run afoul of local civic groups/city regulations/what have you.
"Beginning next fall, all sophomores will be required to live in university housing. All freshmen are already required to live on campus."
UGH! I feel for the students. As a recent NU grad I know that living on campus is expensive and uncomfortable. "Affordable" housing options at NU means living with rodents, roaches, and cramped space. In 2007 I lived in a dorm on Hemenway Street for around $800/mo with a shared bedroom. We had eight total students in the "apartment" with one kitchen (one refrigerator!) and two bathrooms. Such a bad experience.
The following year I moved to Mission Hill and paid $650/mo for a three bed apartment with two other roommates. $800/mo on campus, no privacy, no space v. $650/mo for space, single bedrooms, and privacy. No comparison!
I totally agree with this. I'm also an NU grad, and when I read that sophomores are going to be required to live on campus, I literally felt their pain. NU seriously lacks in affordable housing options. If they didn't, I don't think I would have as much beef with this. I guess maybe the idea is that most sophomores aren't ready to have their own place, but as someone who paid their way through school being able to minimize a huge chunk of cash by paying my own rent and not having a meal plan is invaluable. I would hate to think other students in similar situations to me won't have that option.
Mission Hill Gazette has been covering it extensively: http://missionhillgazette.com/2012/03/09/ymca-hq-not-interested-in-dorm-fight/
OK, so I used to work for the Huntington Avenue YMCA, and I can tell you exactly what's going on:
The maintenance and upkeep for the Huntington Y (a 100 year old building) are too expensive for the YMCA to maintain. They have been looking to sell the building for 30 years, and have been deferring maintenance for that long. So while the parts of the building that you can visibly see are well-kept so as to satisfy the health inspectors, the less-used parts of the building are literally falling apart.
Whole sections of the building lack heating and/or air conditioning, so temperature are controlled by opening and closing the windows. The roof leaks and the basement floods when it rains. Huge parts of the building aren't wheelchair or stroller accessible. The pool is full of cracks and leaks. Paint is peeling and electrical wires are exposed in less-used areas. Power goes out randomly all the time.
Literally, if the Y doesn't sell the building, they will have to close up shop. They've been trying to get Northeastern to buy it for years to balance their books.
a) Key people.
Who are the key people involved in the renovation programs at the Huntington Avenue Boston YMCA and renovation of the 1896 building of the Cambridge YMCA ?
What architectural projects' plans have been drawn?... for the Boston building
and for the Cambridge building
Somehow the Y found the $ to build the Wang Chinatown branch and renovate the Hyde Park branch. The Y definitely needs a capital drive.
Left unquestioned is whether NU was the only bidder for the property.
Left unquestioned is whether NU will continue to shrink enrollment.
Left unquestioned is whether NU will build Gainsborough Garage and Cullinane Hall in any event and privatize St. Botolph St. as a tax exempt territory.
been looking at the plans for this for 2 weeks. work begins Aug/Sept.
I totally agree with anon's comment.
No, not anon, anon's. No, anon's I said!