At long last, Harvard University on Friday resumed its expansion into Allston, kicking off construction of a complex of buildings along Western Avenue with 325 residences, restaurants, and retail shops.
The $150 million project at Barry’s Corner seeks to transform a collection of tired low-rise buildings and parking lots into a bustling development with modern, glass and stone buildings. The development will result in two new residential buildings reaching up to nine stories in height. It will also include 35,000 square feet of retail space and 180 underground parking spaces.
“We want this to be a place where there’s active retail and restaurants and you have vibrancy and life on the streets,” said Joel Sklar, president of Samuels & Associates, which was selected by Harvard to develop the property in partnership with Weiner Ventures.
In addition to its residences and retail space, the Barry’s Corner project will include two new streets and outdoor spaces for dining and entertainment. It will also create a new entrance to Smith Field.
The developers celebrated the formal start of the project on Friday with Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Harvard administrators. However, heavy construction activity is not expected to begin until spring.
The two real estate firms have previously teamed up on several developments in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. The companies are currently building a complex of residences, offices, and stores on Boylston Street that will include the first Target near Boston’s downtown area.
The Barry’s Corner project is part of a much broader development effort by Harvard in North Allston, where the university has long been planning to construct a science complex along with new athletic and academic facilities, parks, residences, a hotel, and other commercial space.
“This is the first mixed-used project on Harvard property, and it’s a benchmark for what’s happening,” Menino said, referring to development unfolding in neighborhoods across the city.
Some Allston residents have grown impatient with Harvard in recent years. The university’s expansion into the neighborhood has suffered repeated delays, and in 2009 Harvard halted work on a massive new science complex on Western Avenue. Construction on that project is expected to resume early next year.
Harvard’s development effort in Allston will unfold in phases over the next 10 years, and perhaps longer, depending on economic conditions. Earlier this year, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved the university’s sweeping master plan for the area. The 10-year blueprint calls for 1.4 million square feet of new development, and another 500,000 square feet of renovations across nine projects.
The projects include a new 60,000-square-foot, 3,000-seat basketball arena and the renovation of an expanded Harvard football stadium.
The university also plans to build a 200-room hotel and conference center; a 300,000-square-foot building, with retail and institutional uses, on the site of the Charlesview Apartments; and three new business school buildings that will feature a mix of academic, office, and common spaces. Two projects call for renovating two student housing buildings on the business school campus.
The plan calls for two of the new business school buildings, one of the student housing renovations, and the football stadium project to be completed by 2018.
The second student housing renovation and the third new business school building would be finished by 2020. The remaining three projects would be completed by 2024.
Casey Ross can be reached at email@example.com.