Northeastern University gains feedback on plans to expand in the Christian Science Complex

By Beth Treffeisen

Special to the Gazette

The Northeastern University (NU) Task Force met on Nov. 30, at a meeting held by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to discuss the two amendments proposed by NU to change the Institutional Master Plan (IMP), despite only three of the 13 members in attendance.

The two amendments to the 2013 IMP include expanding lease space at 200 Norway St. at the Christian Science Complex for administrative purposes and creating an addition to the Squashbusters sports complex building located at 795A Columbus Ave.

Northeastern University will also like to amend the 2013 IMP to confirm that if the university leases space in the future for uses which are consistent with the underlying zoning of the parcel, then the university’s leasing and use will be considered consistent with the current 2013 IMP.

“I think we will need to have another meeting with a sustainable amount of people so that they can at least review it,” said Richard Giordano, the director of community organizing at the Fenway Community Development Corporation. Giordano sits on the NU Task Force.

He added that Emerson College will be turning a hostel into a temporary dorm at 12 Hemenway St. and that the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory have yet to amend their IMP after merging. He said those factors should also be part of this process to allow for a holistic view of all the new development and changes happening to the area.

“We don’t know all of the implications of all of this together,” said Giordano to the BPDA representative. “Look at this, we have piecemeal all over the place impacting the Fenway. Why don’t we sit down and make a coherent, intelligent decision?”

Gerald Autler, the senior project manager behind this project, stated that he will reach out to the other members of the Northeastern Task Force to get their thoughts, but as of right now he does not see a need for another meeting.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist offices have been reducing their operational footprint, including downsizing a small amount inside the Publishing House. Due to this opening of space, Northeastern University seized on the chance to open up more room on their campus for student use.

“We are trying to take advantage of an opportunity,” said Kathy Spiegelman from the campus planning and development at Northeastern University. “If another space became available that was useful, we would have to go through the same process.”

The university already leases space in the Christian Science Complex, including 101 Belvidere, which connects to the Publishing House building, as well as 11 floors at the tower located at 177 Huntington Ave.

The additional leased space at the Publishing House will be used primarily as administrative office space and will also include storage space. Renovation prior to occupancy will involve interior fit out only and there will be no work to the exterior of the building.

Parking will also be made available to the university as part of the lease, but Speigelman said very few people have requested it.

The leased space will be made available to the university in phases over a two-year period starting with a single floor in early 2017. By mid-2019, Northeastern will occupy four floors within the Publishing House building.

The initial term of the lease will extend through 2031, and the term could be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.

The Squashbusters building is a four-story complex of approximately 38,498 square feet that was built in 2003 and originally included in the university’s 2000 IMP.

The building currently houses a sports-based youth enrichment program, as well as office and meeting space supporting the university’s athletic recreation program.

It is adjacent to the Carter Field and to Northeastern’s Columbus Avenue Parking Garage.

The proposed addition is within the existing footprint of the Squashbuters building and will provide space for offices, flexible/multipurpose room, and team room space within the first floor between the entry building face and the current driveway that will be removed and replaced with a pedestrian way.

“This particular project, although it is small, I think it fits within the IMP and will better utilize the current space,” said Beth Whittaker the architect behind it. “Right now that lower level is not so nice and this is going to make it much better.”

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