What was supposed to be a simple project to replace the dilapidated 40-year-old Charlesview Apartments became a land swap and complicated convincing of tenants to move a half-mile away from their current homes.
The $141 million Charlesview Residences development project, which replaced the Charlesview Apartments in Allston Brighton, was made possible through negotiations with Harvard University, which intended to extend its business school to the area where the development currently stands.
“It was more than a land swap. It was a land swap plus money,” said Christopher Hill, designer principal of CBT Architects, the organization that designed the development.
In order to satisfy the needs of the Charlesview Apartments community and the Brighton Mills community where the development stands, funding from Harvard was necessary.
The development had to be split into two different projects to accommodate the old and new tenants who lived in the Charlesview Apartments, which wasn’t an easy task according to Hill.
“The difficulty was getting that community to want to move,” he said, referring to the community as “entrenched” and “isolated” by choice.
To get the older tenants to want to be a part of the community, Hill said CBT Architects and The Community Builders, Inc. gave them a tour of other projects they worked on and incorporated their suggestions into the final design of the development.
The final result was a mixture of townhouses and double-loaded bar buildings that slightly resembled Section 8 housing, with a public community center, public parks, and a public road that runs through the development. The former was developed for young families and the latter was developed for seniors who were resistant to moving from the beginning.
The project also met the needs of the Brighton Mills community, which feared that the project would bring typical Section 8 housing into their neighborhood.
“It was a restorative project in terms of how it was nestled and knit into context,” Hill said.
The project broke ground in 2011 and was completed last summer. The development runs along Western Avenue and Telford Street where an abandoned Star Market and parking lot once stood.
Harvard demolished the Charlesview Apartments to extend its business school into the Allston Brighton area.
The development currently houses the 200 plus low- and moderate- income tenants that once lived in the Charlesview Apartments and was financed by MassHousing and other state agencies. Their rent remains unchanged thanks to the Housing Assistance Payments program through HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
The development is just phase one of a two part project that will include 100 units of owner-occupied housing to be built this spring.