By Dan Murphy
Special to the Gazette
Northeastern officials highlighted some recent accomplishments and imminent goals during a public meeting of its University Task Force held under the auspices of the Boston Planning and Development Agency on Wednesday, Dec. 12, at the Alumni Center.
Kathy Spiegelman, vice president and chief of campus planning and development, cited the completion of 234,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) at 805 Columbus Ave. two years ago, as well as the LightView Apartments at 840 Columbus Ave., which will offer lodging for 825 students when it opens in the fall of 2019, among the university’s major recent achievements.
Two new student-housing developments are also proposed for Ryder parking area on Leon Street and the Renaissance parking garage on Columbus Avenue, respectively, providing a total of 175 additional student beds to meet the university’s commitment of 1,000 beds. Northeastern is also undertaking an ongoing emergency project at Hemenway Apartments to relocate students and affordable housing residents; the project is targeted for completion in the spring.
Also slated for completion in early 2019 is a pedestrian crossing that would connect the campus on Columbus Avenue with the rest of the university’s property that extends to Tremont Street. Elsewhere, Northeastern has made a $26 million investment in construction and committed a further $82 million in maintenance costs to redevelop the city-owned William E. Carter Playground on Columbus Avenue into a state-of-the-art park.
Maureen Hickey, director of strategic initiatives in campus planning, said the university has filed two documents with the city outlining future development plans – one for the proposed Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex 2 (ISEC2), which would provide space for 100 “principal investigators,” and another that would include the proposed redevelopment of Punter’s Pub at 450 Huntington Ave., which Northeastern acquired two years ago.
John Tobin, vice president of city and community affairs, discussed offerings that Northeastern has geared towards the surrounding community, including Learning Link, which allows local residents ages 55 and older to audit classes free of charge; and Foundation Year – a first-year college program offering “wrap-around support” and “integrated tutors” to Boston residents, with priority given to applicants living within neighboring zip codes of the campus.
Northeastern also recently sponsored Impact Lending – a program that provided affordable loans to small businesses and again gave priority to places of businesses with nearby zip codes.
Loans were given to 35 women-and minority-owned small businesses via Impact Lending, and the university is now assessing the program’s effectiveness to figure out how to proceed with it, Spiegelman said.