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Harvard construction in Allston to slow

Progress on the Allston Science Complex, a four-building research center on this side of the Charles River, has been slowed due to the economic crisis, Harvard University President Drew Faust announced in a letter to the Harvard community Feb. 18.

The 589,000-square foot complex, which started construction in February 2008, is part of Harvard’s plan to expand into Allston-Brighton over the next fifty years. In the past, Allston-Brighton residents have voiced concerns about the possibility of property prices rising after their new Ivy League neighbor moves in.

Harvard, which boasts the nation’s largest endowment, saw its endowment suffer a 30 percent decrease in value after the economic downturn, according to the letter.

‘An unprecedented drop in our endowment and pressure on every other source of income forced a careful review of all of our capital planning projects,’ Faust said in the letter.

Harvard spokesperson B.D. Colen said the center’s foundation will still probably be completed by the end of this year.

‘At that point, the project will be reassessed based on the economic conditions and on a reevaluation of the entire project in terms of spacing, and then a decision will be made on where to take it from there,’ Colen said.

Faust said in his letter that if construction were to be completely halted above ground, measures for the preservation of the center would be enacted.

‘If we must pause construction above ground, our planning and development team will work with the city of Boston to ensure that both safety and aesthetic concerns are addressed,’ he said.

Both Colen and Faust emphasized that the Allston project is a 50-year project and that this slow-down will not hinder Harvard’s long-term commitments to Allston.

‘The thing to really stress is that Harvard has been, is and remains committed to Allston and to its future in Allston,’ Colen said.

‘Harvard’s 50-year vision for Allston is undiminished, regardless of these short-term challenges. Allston is vital to Harvard’s long-term future,’ Faust said.’

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