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Harvard attempted to start thawing its relationship with Allston on Thursday by announcing plans to build an innovation and entrepreneurship lab in the former WGBH building.

Harvard attempted to start thawing its relationship with Allston on Thursday by announcing plans to build an innovation and entrepreneurship lab in the former WGBH building.

The dilapidated Western Avenue building is next to the site of Harvard’s indefinitely halted billion-dollar, 8-acre science complex.

Residents became embittered when Harvard said their investments lost too much money during the recession to complete the project. Recently, Harvard capped the complex’s foundation.

“This is a sign of this university’s commitment to re-activating Western Avenue,” Mayor Thomas Menino said. “We all know we have a lot more work to do, but this is an important step.

“I’ve been involved in the Harvard issue for a long time. This shows the commitment Harvard has to redevelopment of this area.”

Since WGBH moved to a new facility down the street, the roof of their former home has collapsed and vandals have stolen its copper. Harvard Business School’s Dean Nitin Nohria said the university could finance the entire $15 to $20 million project.

“The last thing we want to do is start something we can’t finish,” he said.

The lab is expected to come online next fall.

“Other people in the community will say they shouldn’t be able to build anything until they build the science complex first,” said Paul Berkeley of the Allston Civic Association. “I don’t feel that way. If they have the money, they should build the project.”

 
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