NU IMP approved by BRA

The Boston Redevelopment Authority board has approved Northeastern University’s (NU) Institutional Master Plan (IMP) at its last meeting on Nov. 14. The IMP is expected to be voted on and approved by the City’s Zoning Commission at its Dec. 11 meeting, after the Gazette’s deadline.

The IMP was originally expected to be approved by the BRA in September.

“The delays made for a much better product in the end,” NU Vice President for Community and Governmental Outreach John Tobin told the Gazette. “Working with the community and elected officials, we came up with the gold standard of a community benefits package.”

That community benefits package includes a commitment to redesign the Carter Playground at 687 Columbus Ave. and new benefits and scholarships to Boston Public School and other local students.

An IMP advisory group will meet quarterly to make sure NU is “listening and doing everything we’re supposed to be doing,” Tobin said.

But NU hasn’t yet decided on whether that advisory group will be comprised of members of the community IMP Task Force or whether it will be a “separate thing,” Tobin added.

“The [IMP] task force is a big time commitment” for the 10 years that the IMP is valid, Tobin said. “We don’t want to overburden task force members” and “we’d like to get other voices involved as well,” he said.

The first project on NU’s plan is an 180,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building (ISEB). Tobin said that NU is optimistic about construction beginning next month., with an estimated completion date of early 2016.

NU’s two other priority projects include improving Carter Playground and a new student housing project. NU has not yet determined which housing project outlined in the IMP would be chosen, though it has promised that at least 600 new student beds would be built in the IMP’s first five years.

An IMP is a comprehensive development plan that describes an institution’s existing facilities, long-range planning goals and proposed projects.

NU’s IMP has drawn criticism from some residents of Mission Hill for the lack of proposed dorms, especially early on in the plan. Many residents want more dorms built to draw the sometimes rowdy students away from the neighborhood and back onto campus.

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