Developer Samuels and Associates outlined detailed plans focusing on affordable housing and green spaces during a Tuesday meeting of the Harvard-Allston Task Force and Impact Advisory Group.
Tuesday's presentation enhanced previously proposed plans for a development located at 180 Western Ave. — known as Barry’s Corner — that will have 273 residential units, retail space, and restaurants.
The task force, which is made up of Allston residents and Harvard affiliates who work with the Boston Planning Development Agency to discuss the impacts and benefits of Allston projects, convenes reguarly to promote communication between the project developer, task force members, and Allston residents, according to the agency website.
Julia Wynyard, vice president of development at Samuels and Associates, discussed plans for unit size and affordability on Tuesday.
“With 273 units, 73 percent of those units would be larger than a studio, and 30 percent of those units would be two and three bedrooms,” Wynyard said.
Wynyard also said there are numerous factors that influence the affordability of the development units, and provided a rough breakdown of the income brackets that units would fall under.
“In terms of project affordability with the proposed 273 units, approximately 35 units would represent 13 percent at 70 percent [area median income],” she said. “Because this project would fall under a compact living, those affordable rents would actually have an additional 10 percent discount applied to them.”
According to Wynyard, the proposed compact living policy allows developers to create more units to satisfy people willing to “trade off” square footage for lower rent.
Anthony P. D’Isidoro, a resident task force member, questioned whether there is demand for the compact living spaces like the ones proposed, though. D’Isidoro said he has seen the demand for larger living spaces increase during the pandemic.
Also at the meeting, David P. Manfredi, who is the CEO and founding principal of the architecture firm Elkus Manfredi, discussed how the 180 Western Ave. development would interface with the public.
Manfredi elaborated on plans for green space introduced at last month’s task force meeting and described a “network of open space” accessible to residents. The network would include space from “the recently-renovated Smith Field” to “the future Greenway.” Such spaces, per Manfredi, would serve not only as places to gather but also as access to the Charles River and Harvard's proposed Enterprise Research Campus.
Manfredi also said the development would transform an “underutilized” space that has been “unable to sustain” retail establishments, revitalizing it into a space similar to the Continuum development in Allston.
“We have the opportunity to make a really good edge on Western, on Harvard, and on Bertram,” Manfredi said. “Make it safe and secure, and try to make it as diverse in terms of its uses on the ground floor and as inclusive as possible in terms of not privatizing space.”
These "edges," according to Manfredi, would comprise “landscape,” “walking,” and “building apron” zones, whose sizes could be adjusted depending on demands for more private or public space.
But Edward A. Kotomori, one of the resident members of the task force, said he feared that new developments would push Allston residents out of the neighborhood.
“Don’t push us out,” Kotomori said. “This has been done for years.”
Harvard spokesperson Brigid O’Rourke wrote in an email that the developer's proposal will in fact increase the amount of affordable housing in Allston, and pointed to previous residential units included in the Continuum project.
Manfredi also responded that he feels confident about the development landscape.
“I believe in cities, I certainly believe in Boston, I certainly believe in Cambridge,” he said. “They are fueled by an economy that is about being entrepreneurial.”
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