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Enterprise Research Campus Developer Ups Affordable Housing, Pledges Diversity, Sustainability in Recent Filing

The Enterprise Research Campus in Allston is a University development that seeks to serve as a venue for collaboration between Harvard-affiliated research projects and research companies.
The Enterprise Research Campus in Allston is a University development that seeks to serve as a venue for collaboration between Harvard-affiliated research projects and research companies. By Santiago A. Saldivar
By Maribel Cervantes and James R. Jolin, Crimson Staff Writers

Tishman Speyer, the firm leading Harvard’s efforts to develop an Enterprise Research Campus in Allston, filed a 900-page report with the Boston Planning and Development Agency Wednesday with updated plans for the project’s affordability, diversity, sustainability, and open space.

The Enterprise Research Campus is a University development that seeks to serve as a venue for collaboration between Harvard-affiliated research projects and research companies. It will be located on a Harvard-owned parcel of land located on Western Avenue next to the University’s Science and Engineering Complex and across the street from Harvard Business School.

The Draft Project Impact Report follows three recent public meetings between Tishman Speyer, stakeholders, and the Harvard Allston Task Force — the project’s impact advisory group. Held on July 13, July 20, and July 27, the meetings afforded residents and Task Force members a preview of the DPIR and an opportunity to offer feedback.

The meetings, as well as the DPIR itself, concern Phase A of the ERC development, which will span approximately 6 acres and contain roughly 345 residential units. Phase B of the project — which is still in its nascent stages and was only mentioned as a “conceptual plan” in the DPIR — will cover 4.8 acres and will include a greater amount of residential space.

Tishman Speyer, per the DPIR, has increased its original plans for residential space in Phase A by 15 units to 345 units covering nearly 13,500 square feet, and aims to deliver the units by 2024.

The developer also upped the ERC’s proposed proportion of affordable units across both phases of the project to 18.5 percent, exceeding Boston’s 13 percent requirement.

Of the 17 percent of affordable units built in Phase A, 15 percent will be reserved for families that make up to 70 percent of the area median income, while the remaining 2 percent will go to families making up to 100 percent, according to the developers.

Tishman Speyer acknowledged residents’ expressed desire that additional units be allocated for families making less than 70 percent of the area median income, but it wrote such a decision would have to be offset by increasing the price of other affordable units.

Tishman Speyer managing director Kate Bicknell said during the July 27 Task Force meeting that the proportion of affordable units is not set in stone, and that the discussion will continue with residents and the Task Force.

Nonetheless, Bicknell said the firm is “really proud” of the affordability improvements. Construction could begin as early as next year, adding much needed affordable housing stock in Allston, she said.

Diversity was also a major point of discussion in the meetings and the DPIR. The BPDA has assessed the ERC is being built in an area of “moderate” historical exclusion. Tishman Speyer wrote in the DPIR that the development will comply with Boston’s recently enacted Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing zoning amendment.

Toward diversity, Tishman Speyer also pledged additional equity and inclusion programs in the DPIR.

The developer wrote it reserved “a portion of equity ownership” in the project to Black and Latinx investors. More than 150 investors have joined the inclusionary investment program, contributing roughly $30 million.

Tishman Speyer also wrote it will allocate 25 percent of Enterprise Research Campus retail space to small, local, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses and that it will provide such retailers “advantageous lease terms.”

The firm also committed in the DPIR to increasing public open space by nearly an acre over its plans in a February project notification form. Altogether, the open spaces from Phases A and B will represent approximately 50 percent of the ERC’s 14 acres.

The developer, per the filing, hopes to have open spaces that are “actively programmed” with “public art exhibits, community-oriented events, health and wellness classes, music concerts, and other festivals.”

“It’s a welcoming and inclusive public space that expands and enriches the evolving community fabric of Allston,” said Gena Wirth, design principal at the firm SCAPE Landscaping, during the July 13 Task Force meeting, describing her hopes for the ERC’s public realm.

To address stormwater management in public spaces sustainably, Tishman Speyer committed in the DPIR to creating a “Bio-Classroom” in the ERC’s Greenway, which will collect stormwater, manage overflow, and honor the Charles River tidal salt marshes through its design.

Also concerning sustainability, the firm pledged that the development will be fossil-fuel neutral by 2026 and fossil-fuel free by 2050.

Wednesday’s DPIR filing represents one element of the BPDA’s review process prior to the ERC’s board approval and construction.

Tishman Speyer and the BPDA will continue soliciting feedback from stakeholders through the DPIR comment period, which will close after 75 days.

—Staff writer James R. Jolin can be reached at james.jolin@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Maribel Cervantes can be reached at maribel.cervantes@thecrimson.com.

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