Roxbury parcel a lose-lose for students, community

Stop a Northeastern student in the street, and ask them why they chose this school over the many options Boston has to offer for higher education. The first thing they’ll say is “co-op,” and then they’ll talk about the campus.

One of Northeastern’s biggest draws is that it is a self-contained campus in the middle of the city. It feels like a campus community, and doesn’t sprawl across three T stops. However, if Northeastern wins its bid to purchase Parcel P-3 and build 1,400 beds, it will be the first step toward the deterioration of that small-campus feeling.

Parcel P-3 is located across from police headquarters on Tremont Street. If you’re having trouble picturing it, it’s near the Reggie Lewis Track ‘ Athletic Center. If you thought housing on Columbus Avenue was a hike, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Look Northeastern, we get it. We get that you need more on-campus beds. And we get that no matter where you propose to build, the community cries foul. But Parcel P-3 is not the answer. It seems that every time you build new beds, you build bigger, fancier and pricier. But no one wants to live on Mission Hill and pay a West Village price.

People move to The Hill because it’s cheap. People pay outrageous on-campus housing costs because it’s convenient. Parcel P-3 will be neither. It will not be a desirable housing choice for students, and more than just about any proposal to date, it really will be encroaching on a community that clearly doesn’t want us there.

Other proposals on the table for the parcel of land include a National Center for Afro American Artists or a big-box store in the vein of Target. Both other proposals would also include office space and enrich the community. Is it any wonder that Roxbury leaders are so staunchly against Northeastern’s proposal? And let’s face it, how sweet would it be to have a Target within walking distance?

While there is no doubt Northeastern needs to expand and provide more on-campus housing, it should be closer to home. Potential housing at the YMCA would be a perfect option, staying within the bounds of the beautiful campus we’re so proud of. And while housing at the Y wouldn’t provide as many beds as Parcel P-3, it would be a start.

In all the politics of bed-counts and community relations, let’s not forget the people who will be sleeping in those beds. Parcel P-3 is certainly not a student-centered option, and it isn’t really a win for anyone.

Leave a Reply