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ALLSTON, MA-Harvard University’s 200 acres in what is now an industrial area could eventually be a vibrant college campus with science and technology centers, professional schools, university housing all in an urban neighborhood, according to a plan outlined by university president Lawrence Summers.

In an open letter, Summers notes that the Cambridge, MA-based university has acquired 200 acres in the city over the past 20 years. Much of the land, he points out, “is highly encumbered and will require much effort and expense–as well as time, measured in decades–to become available for university use.” He adds that, “We expect, however, that we will be in a position to begin some limited building within the next several years, and to pursue some additional development within the ensuing decade.”

The plan is for the local properties to ultimately become what Summers terms an “integral” part of Harvard’s academic enterprise. He emphasizes that these properties will feature a mix of uses–both academic and residential–and will be linked with other parts of the campus. Perhaps most importantly, Summers stresses that the local campus will be planned knowing that Harvard’s long-term growth opportunities in Cambridge, as well as in Longwood eventually, are extremely limited.

The university plans on putting much of its emphasis in this campus on the sciences. Summers says that the university recognizes that it will need “substantially” more space in these fields in the coming years. In addition, both the School of Public Health and the Graduate School of Education will eventually be relocated to the local campus.

Summers says that Harvard also plans on developing university housing on this campus. “More such housing will improve our students’ lives and enhance our overall educational environment,” adds Summers. The university would also like to see restaurants, shops, open spaces and transportation be developed, creating what Summers calls an “urban neighborhood” in what is now a largely industrial area.

The next step in the process involves creating task forces that will come up with specific proposals for each aspect of the development. Summers says the university will also bring in an outside firm for the master-planning process. He emphasizes that Harvard’s internal process will track closely with the institutional master planning process established for university growth by the City of Boston.

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