Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BC Reportedly Renews Bid to Buy 2000 Comm Ave Apartment Building for $68 Million

Boston College is reportedly once again secretly trying to purchase the apartment building at 2000 Commonwealth Avenue, according to a report in GlobeSt.com today, for a price in the neighborhood $68 million.

BC previously tried unsuccessfully to purchase the building in 1992-3. Paul Barrett, then-director of the BRA, was opposed to BC buying the property and turning the building into a dormitory (archive fee). That is pretty strong opposition coming from Barrett -- particularly since he not only graduated from BC in 1978, but also captained the BC hockey team (archive fee).

The current building was constructed in 1985 by developer Jerry Rappaport over neighborhood objections due to its 16-story height being out of character for the Comm Ave corridor and nearby Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Mayor Raymond Flynn vowed to help Brighton residents to block the construction project, but the City Council intervened (archive fee) -- under the pro-developer push of District Councilors James Kelley and Thomas Menino (archive fee) -- to grant the developer a building height exemption above the allowed 70 feet. Allston-Brighton District Councilor Brian McLaughlin was one of only three votes against the exemption; Councilor Charles Yancey was another.

Rappaport sold the property in 1997 (archive fee) to Smith Property Holdings (current address in Colorado) for $27.5 million.

Before the current building was constructed, four construction workers were killed in 1971 (archive fee) on the same site when the roof fell in and the building, 75% completed, collapsed.

Off-Campus Student Dormitory

In recent years, much of the building has been occupied by undergraduate students of Boston College, with one BC official mentioning an approximately 40% student occupancy rate. Online reports of the student behavior in the building are highly negative, such as, "If you like to party all night and don't plan on sleeping for your entire stay here then move on in. Otherwise, stay away."

Despite such stories, Father William Leahy, S. J., President of BC, has stated that he believes the students in tall, off-campus apartment buildings, like 2000 Comm Ave, "rarely encounter the same kind of problems" (archive fee) as found in 1- or 2-family houses occupied by students. His argument appears to be unsupported. Yet BC has repeatedly insisted that on-campus students actually behave worse in tall dormitory buildings, and therefore BC has pushed for dormitories not to exceed four stories.

If BC were to purchase 2000 Comm Ave -- thereby likely turning it into on-campus undergraduate housing -- would they chop off all the stories above the fourth floor to ensure that their students occupying the building would behave well? Or were their arguments all along simply a ruse?

Via UniversalHub.


Rob said...

Yes, keep quoting that random online site as gospel about BC student behavior in the building. If it's on the internet, it must be true.

Rob said...

If you want the students out of your neighborhood and off your street, then this would be the perfect place for them. They would be contained in a large hise rise on Comm Ave with no need to roam around Lake St, Foster St, etc.

I know you'd like BC to disappear but since that is not going to happen, this proposal seems like a win-win for everybody. For once, it would be in your interest to compromise and support this if it comes to fruition.

TheNorvFace said...

Ideally, what would rather have:

1. BC purhchases 2000 and eliminates Brighton dorm plans.

2. BC does not purchase 2000 and builds dorm on Brighton campus.

Buying 2000 is a great solution to not building on Brighton, like we have requested them not to.

Sullidop said...

I lived in 2000 Comm Ave as a BC undergraduate and can tell you that there were substantially fewer parties than there were else where, off campus or on. Living in the building was actually a nice change of pace from being on-campus.
It is not likely that BC would turn 2000 into undergraduate housing, the more-likely senario would be graduate housing (or possibly Jesuit and professor housing, although less likely) as virtually all departments within BC are looking to improve the grad students they can attract and all cite no graduate housing options as their biggest stumbling block.
Why is this more likely?
-The units are larger and all around nicer than typical dorms
-There is a parking garage which would be wasted on undergrad students
-There are already plans to build additional undergrad dorms
-BC does not want undergrads that far away from administrative control (BCPD would have to expand patrols to the area)

Claude Rhaines said...

It is not that we, the residents of Allston/Brighton, want BC (or BU or Harvard) to disappear, Rob; we just wish they would stop gobbling up our neighborhoods and cease trying to transform them into "Dormchester". Is that really too much to ask?

That said, the purchase of 2000 Comm. Ave. does seem like an acceptable compromise to the destruction of St. John's. It may be a temporary compromise, but it will buy both sides some breathing space.

10 year said...

sullidop B.C. has now announced that they DO want undergraduate housing at 2000. So much for your rationally thought out post. Just another example (to me) as to why many in our neighborhood are exasperated with B.C.

Sullidop said...

I stand corrected. It is a little odd that they're not considering graduate housing, perhaps there is not sufficient demand. Anyways, at least BC will be getting more students out of homes that could be used to house families that actually contribute to the area.
I wonder if they'll even cut back on planned development in Brighton...I doubt it.
But this brings up another interesting question, given BC's financial leverage and track record of patience and quickness to grab opportunities before they can be effectively blocked, is it really possible to mount a successful resistence over the long-term?
I submit that probably isn't given their willingness to take on community-based organizations and local governments (think their decade long legal battle with Newton).
If nothing else they've certainly shown great tenacity.

marie cingolani said...

68 million...my mother recieved zero in 1971 when my father was killed in the collapse ...doesn't seem right