Harvard vs. Allston: Both win

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June 21, 2013, 7:46 pm
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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) - The Charlesview Apartments in the shadow of Harvard Stadium in Boston's Allston neighborhood may embody some of the worst of 1960s concrete-brutalist architecture -- but they have been a happy, affordable home for hundreds of families. And a huge obstacle to Harvard University's voracious, aggressive plans for a massive expansion across Allston.

Friday, after years of planning and negotiations and false starts, the Charlesview community, Harvard, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano celebrated a win-win deal coming to fruition.

Through a land swap for a parcel a half-mile west on Western Avenue Harvard bought during a secret land-acquisition binge in the 1990s and early 2000s, Charlesview and developer The Community Builders have built a $141 million replacement called Charlesview Residences at 400 Western Avenue.

Menino recalled visiting the old Charlesview while the deal was being assembled. "I looked around and I said, 'My God, we have to have new housing for these folks. They desperately need it.'"

A total of 202 families now living at the old Charlesview will move into the new one between now and September, officials said. Harvard will then take and clear the old Charlesview site, just south of Harvard Business School, for its future Allston campus that has been in on-again off-again development for the last five years.

"A community said, 'Enough's enough, let's work together,'" Menino said, and "a university stepped up and said: 'We want to be part of this success.'"

With videographer Nik Saragosa

Tags: Boston, Peter Howe, Allston, Mayor Tom Menino, Harvard University, Michael Capuano, Charlesview Apartments, Charlesview Residences
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