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Unique housing effort builds Allston’s new Charlesview

Elsa Rojas, with Bart Mitchell of The Community Builders, expressed delight with her apartment at Charlesview Residences.Aram Boghosian for The Globe

Elsa Rojas walked into her new two-bedroom Brighton apartment, took in the expansive skyscape from her fifth-floor flat, and smiled.

“I love it,” she said, gazing through floor-to-ceiling windows looking out at Harvard Stadium and the Boston skyline. “I won’t need a TV.”

Rojas, 66, joined a group of residents and government officials Friday to celebrate the opening of the first phase of the new Charlesview Residences, a 340-unit mixed-use project on the Allston-Brighton line that includes subsidized and market-rate apartments.

The complex replaces the dilapidated Charlesview Apartments, a 213-unit subsidized development built in the 1960s, less than a half a mile away. The project was the result of a land swap with Harvard University that traded nearly 9 acres of land on Western Avenue, the site of the new complex, for 4.5 acres nearer the school’s campus on the corner of Western Avenue and Stadium Way.


The project included $106 million in loans from MassHousing, the state’s affordable housing bank, and $65 million from the sale of land to Harvard.

The Rev. Frank Glynn, pastor of St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Brighton and chairman of the Charlesview board of directors, said he was thrilled to celebrate the new residences after years of effort and planning.

Glynn said the former property, run by an interdenominational group, was obsolete and organizers were conflicted about whether to renovate it or move on. The land swap, he said, allowed residents to relocate to updated housing and move into an area surrounded by shops and other residences.

“They are moving into a much higher-grade living situation,’’ he said.

Friday’s event included speeches by various officials, including Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Congressman Michael Capuano, as well as former and present Charlesview residents.

Rojas had a look of amazement on her face as she walked into her new living space for the first time.


She said she is going to miss her old home, where she lived for 30 years and brought up two children, but was enchanted by the new apartment’s wood floors, tiled bathroom, and amenities.

“It’s beautiful,” she said.

Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com.