Task Force discusses sites for future student residence halls

Task Force discusses sites for future student residence halls

By Jeff Swoboda

At a Community Task Force meeting last night, community members considered potential additions to student housing at Northeastern, narrowing the possibilities down to four final sites.

The locations on campus agreed on as viable options for student housing and economic development included Cullinane Hall, the YMCA, Gainsborough Garage and Parcel 18: a lot including Renaissance Park, a building next to Renaissance Garage.

The majority of the meeting was spent discussing whether the Community Task Force had previously reached a consensus on the entire proposal, and if not, which parts of it were objectionable. Most of the debate centered on Parcel 18 and development restrictions on it.

An existing restriction prevents Northeastern from building additional student housing on any property that lies south of the MBTA Orange Line, which includes both Renaissance Park and Renaissance Garage.

Despite this restriction, Parcel 18 was made available for consideration because the university reached an agreement to allow student housing development alongside an “economic development.”

Examples of potential economic development include anything that would bring business to the neighborhood, like a hotel. Northeastern is in the process of searching for a developer for Parcel 18, said Jeff Doggett, director of government relations and community affairs.

The meeting comes during the final stages of development of the Institutional Master Plan, a pledge Northeastern has made to the community that it will have plans for 1,250 more residential beds by the end of the month, in order to keep Northeastern students out of neighboring communities.

At last night’s meeting, Doggett said the plan has been narrowed down to the four sites discussed.

“In the short-term, medium-term and long-term, these should be the sites that we talk about,” Doggett told the task force. “This should be the pillar of moving forward.”

Although the four properties are tentatively part of the Master Plan, the university plans to develop only two of the properties in the near future, Doggett said.

Doggett said Northeastern also plans to deliver an “article of intent” to the task force by Feb. 28 that will detail the university’s plan to resolve the Master Plan through a process of community approval “sooner rather than later.”

Overall, he said the meeting accomplished what it intended.

“The goal of the meeting was simply to get four sites and to get a process outside the task force that can decide on height [of the buildings] and [number of] beds,” Doggett said.

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