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  • Only Half of Lower Allston is a SBIR HUBZone?

    Posted on December 31st, 2010 Matt No comments

    In the course of filling out an SBIR application I ran across the below.  Only a portion of Lower Allston is considered a HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone), which gives businesses in those areas preference in Federal contracting.

    The included areas appear to cover most of the Harvard and BU land in Allston.  This includes some private businesses and residences as well.


    To realize the benefits of the program the firm and some employees must reside inside the zone:

    To qualify for the program, a business must meet the following criteria:

    • It must be a small business by SBA size standards;
    • Its principal office must be located within a HUBZone, which includes lands on federally recognized Indian reservations;
    • It must be owned and controlled by one or more U.S. citizens (N.B.-this means any level of ownership in an applicant small business by another company would result in a decline). Approved ownership can also be by a Community Development Corporation or Indian tribe; and
    • At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone.

    So in effect if you’re living on or near campus and running a business out of your apartment you’d be in a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone”.  This was apparently based on 2010 Census data… somehow?

    When I get some time I’d like to research this more, but its unfortunate that more of Lower Allston was not included.  Were there too many EIN’s pulled in the rest of Lower Allston?  Too many private employers?  Do non-profit employers figure into the calculation?  Did Charlesview qualify its whole zone, but that only explains that one?

    It just seems strange that an operating train yard is a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone”  and a huge empty office building on Lincoln St is not.  As small businesses try to get a foothold in Lower Allston these designations may make it more difficult for them to get federal help.

  • Harvard rents a building!

    Posted on March 26th, 2010 Matt No comments

    As reported by the BRA and Allston Brighton Community Blog Harvard has RENTED one of the many empty buildings it owns in Allston!

    I believe the building in question had been used by the Harvard Police and some contractors.  It seemed to be one of least run down buildings in their inventory.  Although the Crimson reports that some build out will happen maybe this will prove to Harvard that it needs to up the maintance of its vacant buildings to make them more marketable.

    Regardless great news.  1 done, many to go.

  • Charlesview approved

    Posted on January 15th, 2010 Matt No comments

    Although it isn’t all we wanted I’m somewhat glad its done.  Let’s demolish some empty buildings!  And actually replace them with new buildings!

    Charlesview apartments approved

    Boston Business Journal – by Mary Moore

    The Boston Zoning Commission on Thursday approved a mixed-income development proposed by nonprofit builder The Community Builders and Charlesview Inc., the governing board of the Charlesview Apartments.

    The new Charlesview Residences in Allston will includee 240 rental units and 100 owned units.

    full story

    Also mild kudos to Harvard for coming up with creatives uses for an empty VW dealership… time to go to Play It Again sports for some cheap skates since its BYO-skates.

    Also also don’t forget to vote Tuesday.

  • Western Ave gets more art

    Posted on May 10th, 2009 Matt 1 comment

    Western Ave

    I’d like to see a tenant there, but a little art in the windows is a step in the right direction.

  • Harvard cleans up for the BRA walking tour?

    Posted on May 6th, 2009 Matt 1 comment
    Harvard cleaning up for the tour tomorrow?

    Harvard cleaning up for the tour tomorrow?

    I noticed this at about noon today.  I hope Harvard cleans up before the walking tour (1).  For those that don’t drive by every day this is the empty building at 176 Lincoln St (2).

    All teasing of Harvard and their empty properties aside vandalism and/or disrepair isn’t cool.   Since it was pushed toward the street either (1) someone pushed it over (vandalism) or (2) a Harvard contractor or employee with a key to the gate hit it backing out of the locked driveway (blatant disrepair).

    In both cases this is what happens when properties are virtually abandoned.  I hope this starts and ends with an uprooted cosmetic post.  

    “On Thursday, May 7, the BRA will lead a walking tour/site visit
    of the Holton Street corridor.  We will meet at 4:00 p.m. at the
    Allston-Brighton Resource Center, 367 Western Avenue. ”



  • Is this Lower Allston or Detroit?

    Posted on May 5th, 2009 Matt No comments

    Schools Out Forever from Vice Magazine BY JAMES GRIFFIOEN (external link)

    Is this an empty Harvard property in Allston?  No.  Our diligence will prevent this from happening here.  It was left empty by a different set of problems with a different set of solutions, but led to the same outcome — or hopefully only a potential outcome in our case.

    Remember to attend community meetings this Spring/Summer.  Its tough with the nice weather and competing interests, but its important.

    On a sidenote after getting quite a few seemingly automated spam comments  (no, our readers don’t need Viagra from Russia) registration is required for commenting.  Its an easy, automated process and will be used for no other purpose than to stop bots.  As an added bonus your comments will no longer be held for moderation (unless they contain too many links) so you should see them post immediately.

  • New Use For Former Comcast Building

    Posted on April 22nd, 2009 Matt No comments
    Travis St gate

    Travis St gate today

     28 Travis St used to be the Comcast center for the Boston area adding foot traffic to the Barry’s Corner retail area.  Now its behind the Travis St gate and used as an office for contractors working on the Science Center.  Soon it will presumably be empty adding nothing to the community, but more blight.

    Comcast has since moved to the other side of the Pike… adding its foot traffic to the revitalized Cambridge St.  Given all the empty store fronts on Western Ave I think people would even welcome a tattoo parlor (no offense to Stingray Body Art) in North Allston.

    Science center site map

    Science center site map

    Before the fence
    Before the fence
  • Oldies, but goodies – Allston resists Harvard

    Posted on April 17th, 2009 Matt No comments
    The below images may be old news to some, but in mid Feburary community members from ABNA (1) put home made banners on some of Harvard’s vacant buildings near Barry’s Corner to highlight the blight that Harvard is giving us.  Too bad I had class that night or I would have participated.
    Remember to support local businesses tomorrow and every day.
    Former Charlesbank Cleaners:

    Former Charlesbank Cleaners:

    Former Citgo

    Former Citgo


  • Dirty and empty at 168 Western Ave

    Posted on April 4th, 2009 Matt 1 comment
    Rear of former VW dealership
    Rear of former VW dealership
    Former VW dealership
    Former VW dealership

    Late last year Harvard asked Boston Volkswagen to move out of their location near Barry’s Corner at 168 Western Ave(1).  Their lot was soon mostly engulfed by the Science Center build site.  Now less than a year later this “land grab” as become irrevelant as Harvard delays construction at the site.

    What could have been a generator of foot traffic in a renewed Barry’s corner is now empty and dirty.  An old hydraulic manfold sits behind the building leaking fluid into the unused lot.

    Above the front door the VW “Start” sign is still in place.

    When will the rebuilding of Allston really start?  In my mind that day will come when a majority of Harvard’s properties are occupied — whether those occupants are Harvard entities or paying tenants. 


  • Why can’t Allston be more like Beverly?

    Posted on March 31st, 2009 Matt 1 comment

    I’ve seen a number of comments defending the status of 176 Lincoln St status as not leasable.  The claim is even if it were fixed up no innovative company could rent that space in the current economic climate.

    My questions is why can’t this building become another Cummings Park-like property?  In Beverly, Cummings (1) took a HUGE old factory and transformed it into 100s of small, medium and large office suites.  Small and start up businesses flocked to the complex.  Those who were successful moved into progressively larger offices or off campus to the local community.  Rents for small offices were reasonable.  Cummings made its money off many small tenants instead a small number of large tenants.  Locally a building on Braintree St is used for a similar purpose, but is more aimed at artists.

    Some would claim that Harvard can’t afford to develop this property.  I would say how can they afford not to develop this property and others in Allston.  With minimal investment they could be revenue generating for the next 30 to 50 years until Harvard needs them back.  

    No one expects Harvard to empty its endowment to rebuild Allston.  What people do expect is when you own that much property that you have a clear plan for it – both short and long term.  One would also expect some course correction due to changing circumstances.   There HAS to be a middle ground between doing NOTHING (the current short term plan) and building a $1 billion building (the old short term plan).