A conceptual rendering released in 2019 of the Harvard Enterprise Research Campus in Allston. Image courtesy of Studio Gang and Henning Larsen

In a sign of Boston’s new approach to development under Mayor Michelle Wu, a stalled 900,000-square-foot Harvard University project in Allston is poised for approval after the school agreed to the highest percentage of affordable units by a private developer in the city.

Harvard also will establish a $25 million affordable housing fund for the Allston-Brighton neighborhood, where neighborhood activists and elected officials had lined up against the first phase of the Enterprise Research Campus, Wu announced today.

Harvard and its private development partner, Tishman Speyer, told members of an advisory group this month that they would increase the affordable housing component from 17 to 25 percent of the 345 units.

“The development of Harvard’s land in Allston is of such scale and scope that the impact will shape generations to come—we must get this right for our communities,” Wu said in a statement announcing the proposed community benefits.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency board of directors is scheduled to vote on the project at its monthly meeting Thursday afternoon.

Neighborhood activists contrasted the original proposal with higher affordability levels by other recent private developments in Allston by developers such as The Davis Cos. and King Street Properties. Restricted units at the Harvard-Tishman project will be reserved for households earning 30 to 100 percent of area median income.

Allston community activists also got a response to their request that the Harvard-Tishman team make a financial contribution to stem displacement in Allston. The $25 million will create a housing fund to create, preserve and subsidize affordability, while Harvard will donate a parcel at 65 Seattle St. for a potential housing development.

Harvard will donate up to $1 million for a needs assessment of future community benefits and $1 million for a city-led planning and rezoning study for an additional 22 acres of the Enterprise Research Campus.

The package also includes $500,000 for a study of a Western Avenue “transitway” emphasizing bicycle, pedestrian and transit infrastructure.

The project also would create new multimodal connections and service upgrades to the MBTA’s 86 and 70 bus routes.

Along with the 263,500-square-foot housing component, Harvard and Tishman Speyer propose 440,000 square feet of office and lab space and a 196,500-square-foot hotel and conference center on the Western Avenue site.

Dozens of community groups and nonprofits banded together last year to form the Coalition for a Just Allston + Brighton, organizing a protest and demanding 33 percent affordable housing in the project.

Harvard Agrees to Housing Demands in Allston

by Steve Adams time to read: 2 min