The ambiance, history, high foot traffic, and youthful energy in Harvard Square make it a highly sought-after hub of retail and general business potential. This high-demand leads to one of the key challenges that Harvard Square continues to face: the constant threat of upzoning whether for residential or commercial use, and against owner-operated or locally-owned stores due to heightening costs of real estate. We are facing a risk of watching taller buildings filled with offices move in, big brand name stores appear at the ground level that almost all students cannot afford and do not add to the uniqueness of Harvard Square, and a direction towards too many banks and even cell companies appearing when such retailers become the only ones who can afford real estate in the area.
Harvard is special because it offers a unique experience you cannot find anywhere else -- that is why tens of thousands of people visit each day from all over the world to experience its magic. Unique memories are created with each visit to places like Pinocchio's or Felipe’s, and of course, at the historic Algiers Coffee House (closed August 30th, which will be sorely missed). This localism is something that needs to be protected in Harvard Square, and the rise of chain stores without the demand from residents and students especially (perhaps the largest customer base) is something that City Council should continue to push back upon where appropriate. If elected, I will push City Council, in its proceedings on zoning and general planning for real estate development in Harvard Square, to prioritize the protection and support of growth for owner-operated businesses and the historic essence of the area.
With potential developments in Harvard Square, in such close proximity to thousands of students, who will be the strongest consumer base for these stores, it is important that we engage their participation in defining the future of Harvard Square -- prioritizing protecting local businesses and maintaining the high foot traffic and in essence, the magic, of Harvard Square. In a city where over 35% of the demographic is under the age of 25 and over 34% of the over-18 population is enrolled in the universities, we have not had authentic student or youth representation on council before. I will be a voice for a whole demographic that hasn’t had a seat at the table before.
Learn more about my platform on real estate developments and civic engagement, and donate at votenadya.com.