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Barry's Corner in Allston could get Harvard Square-ier with proposed new theater complex and apartment building for Harvard grad students, professors and staff

Rendering of proposed 175 N. Harvard St.

Rendering by Architectural Resources Cambridge of Boston.

Harvard University yesterday filed plans with the BPDA to build a new home for the American Repertory Theatre at 175 North Harvard St. that would include two theaters able to hold up to 1,000 people as well as a 14-story, 264-unit apartment building that would be topped with "a beacon effect" as an homage to Allston.

Rising from Barry’s Corner toward McCurdy Track and culminating with a beacon effect at its pinnacle, the Project reads clearly as an extension of Allston’s history of industriousness, urban vitality and density.

The plan replaces Harvard's original proposal for a basketball arena on the 2.7-acre site, part of Harvard's overall 189 acres of land in Allston.

In addition to the North Harvard Street project, Harvard says it also wants to turn a Soldiers Field Road building where the Ground Round and Pax TV used to be into space for its ski team - which would use it as a staging area for vans taking team members to races in the steeper parts of New England.

In its filing, Harvard says:

The Project Site will include improved streetscapes with street trees, as well as new outdoor gathering spaces, including a residential courtyard between the two buildings and the "Performance Yard", a versatile outdoor space to house A.R.T. special events and programming and invite public gathering.

Harvard says the new A.R.T. complex, which would include two theaters and rehearsal space, would let A.R.T continue its role as one of the leaders of American theater.

Since its founding, the A.R.T. has been in residence at the Loeb Drama Center, a building originally constructed for undergraduate use in 1960, on Brattle Street in Cambridge. ... Though it was a state‐of ‐the‐art building when it was designed, it currently lacks access for patrons and artists and no longer meets the standards of excellence for theater practice, and by extension, the overall vision for the future of the A.R.T. ...

The mission of the Performance Center Component is to create a new center for research and performance that will allow the A.R.T. to continue to expand the boundaries of theater and reaffirm the theater as a vital public space. Based on the model of a teaching hospital, it will combine student learning and professional practice.

Harvard says the new housing for its grad students, professors and staff is needed because of continuing demand - its current housing stock is completely full.

The Affiliate Housing Component will provide much‐needed new housing for graduate students, faculty, staff, and their families in a new building that promotes sustainability and healthy living. The Affiliate Housing Component will pursue Living Building Challenge Core, along with of Living Building Challenge Materials Petal accreditation, the intent of which is to foster a materials economy that is non‐toxic, ecologically restorative, transparent, and socially equitable. Passive House certification will also be pursued, resulting in a high‐performance building envelope that seeks to minimize energy consumption.

The apartment building would have 75 parking spaces, more or less.

175 North Harvard St. filings and meeting schedule.



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such a joke they can buy up 189 acres, build housing they charge rent for through tuition and not pay taxes on it - forcing everyone elses taxes to rise to cover the cost.

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Rental properties would generate what is known as "unrelated business income," meaning that it is not derived from their core 501(c)3 recognized mission of higher education. UBI is subject to taxation, so Harvard isn't getting away with anything.

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This is basically rental housing, so the City will receive taxes from it. But the other thing is … the alternative is for Harvard not to build this housing, in which case 279 more households are pursuing housing in the local rental market which, if you are paying any attention, is not particularly liquid. This is a drop in the bucket, but if Harvard could provide at- or slightly below-market rate housing in Allston (or wherever) for every Harvard affiliate that wanted it, it would take some of the pressure off of the housing stock in the other neighborhoods.

So this is a good start, but hopefully much of the rest of the area's warehouses and empty lots will be homes for people in the future, too.

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Not content with forcing engineering students to trek to Allston to pretend it's an extension of a unified campus, Harvard is now doing the same to the A.R.T.

Maybe the theater will be successful there. But people won't take the T, go to a nice restaurant, and then see a show any more. They'll drive, see a show, and leave.

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BU and BC students have a good long walk (or shuttle bus ride) from one end of the campus to another. The walk across the river for Harvard students isn't any worse than what plenty of other college students "endure".

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