Home Development Harvard University’s new research campus seeks a developer

Harvard University’s new research campus seeks a developer

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The Harvard Allston Land Co. (HALC) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the initial phase of the Enterprise Research Campus (ERC) in Allston. The RFP will focus on the 14-acre portion of the ERC on Western Avenue, adjacent to the new Science and Engineering Complex slated to open in the fall of 2020, and across the street from Harvard Business School.

Views from Memorial Drive across the Charles River toward cranes at work on Harvard University’s future Science and Engineering campus. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Harvard envisions an ERC that will complement the cutting-edge institutional research taking place on its campus and throughout the region, that will seamlessly integrate into the emerging corridor of creativity along Western Avenue, and that will contribute to a thriving community in a neighborhood that combines academia and education, engaging public and community spaces, and the arts and sciences, in ways that drive economic growth and innovation. The RFP is an important next step in realizing this transformational vision.

“Allston will enable Harvard to lead in the knowledge and innovation economy,” said President Larry Bacow. “The work that will be done in the ERC will have long-lasting effects on the development of Harvard’s campus and the broader community, sparking and shaping enterprises that will drive progress in many fields to the great benefit of humanity.”

Envisioned as a mixed-use development — including office, lab, research, residential, retail, enhanced public realm, and publicly accessible open spaces as well as public art projects — the ERC will be a cornerstone of Harvard’s commitment to enhance the area in support of its teaching and research mission. It will increase the interconnectivity between the Harvard campus, the neighborhood, and the Greater Boston region.

“The ERC’s location creates opportunities to further strengthen the region in exciting and unexpected ways,” said Nitin Nohria, chair of HALC’s governing board and dean of Harvard Business School. “We hope and expect the ERC will foster new collaborations between Harvard, other universities, research institutions, businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, and the region’s robust life sciences community, as well as with global entities.”

The RFP will allow HALC and the University to evaluate market interest and new ideas that can contribute to this transformational vision. It is a logical next step anticipated when HALC was first announced late last year.

Map of Harvard's Allston campus

A map marking the proposed space on Harvard’s Allston campus.

Courtesy of Harvard University

Through the RFP process, HALC will solicit proposals for how this area can best strengthen and complement the region. The RFP will help ensure that the ERC will build upon a robust existing innovation ecosystem.

“The RFP is open and available to all qualified developers and development teams that have a proven track record realizing projects of this type, scope, and scale,” said HALC’s CEO, Thomas P. Glynn. “Our goal is to cast as wide a net as possible to ensure that we involve new people, new groups, and new ideas. Receiving a diverse group of proposals from teams with diverse backgrounds and diverse locations is absolutely critical to ensuring the very best ideas. We’re confident that this approach will yield best-in-class developers, providing us with the ideal partner as we move forward.”

This initial phase is consistent with what was outlined during the public process in the spring of 2018, when the Boston Planning and Development Agency board voted to approve a Planned Development Area (PDA) Master Plan for an initial development phase of a total of 900,000 gross square feet (GSF) on the 14 acres on Western Avenue, which includes approximately 400,000 GSF of office and lab space, 250,000 GSF of residential space, and a 250,000 GSF hotel and conference center.

The plans are also consistent with past University planning efforts, and align with the goals outlined in the city of Boston’s own master plan, “Imagine Boston 2030,” where the ERC and Beacon Park Yard, the area immediately to the south, were included among several locations citywide for “expanded neighborhoods.”

There are no proposed projects at present, nor any identified tenants. HALC’s goal is to have a developer identified by December.

The ERC represents the latest step in Harvard’s growing presence in Allston. It builds on the entrepreneurial faculty of Harvard Business School, the innovation labs cluster, Athletics, the newly opened ArtLab, and the Science and Engineering Complex (SEC). Additionally, the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) will eventually move into a new state-of-the-art research and performance center in Allston. This mix of culture and entrepreneurship will provide the intellectual seed capital to attract leading-edge companies to the ERC, fostering creative collaboration and closer ties to Harvard’s research and teaching mission.

As planning continues for the state Department of Transportation I-90 project, Harvard remains deeply engaged and continues to work closely with the administrations of Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the community, and others, through participation in I-90 Task Force meetings. The University firmly believes that the project, which is directly adjacent to the ERC, represents a generational opportunity for transformation and has the potential to improve connectivity between neighborhoods, enhance mobility of all kinds across Allston and the region, and unlock development and place-making opportunities important to Harvard and the region.

(Reprinted with permission from the Harvard Gazette.)