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Old 04-14-2014, 05:02 AM   #1
stellarfun
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Boston Graphene Economy Discussion

With respect to attempting to do land-use planning when the future land use is unknown, Harvard and MIT will be needing a Kendall-sized area for graphene research, and for the spin-off companies that commercialize their graphene research. Only available area close to both campuses that I know of is Harvard-owned land in North Allston.

Graphene research will be bigger than silicon research and there's a whole valley named after that. And why will Harvard and MIT, and maybe BU and Northeastern invest heavily? A gold rush for graphene patents, because patents produce licenses, and licenses produce revenue for the universities.

If indeed the Beacon yards and the former freight terminals north of the yards become Boston's center for graphene research, the residents of Windom St. won't need to worry about increased traffic because they won't be living there anymore.

The start of the graphene patent race.
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-20975580
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:48 AM   #2
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

I was doing some graphene research the other day, and found a nice chart showing the exponential increase in graphene patents in the last couple years.



It would be quite exciting if Allston becomes a hub of graphene research as you suggest.
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Old 04-14-2014, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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If indeed the Beacon yards and the former freight terminals north of the yards become Boston's center for graphene research, the residents of Windom St. won't need to worry about increased traffic because they won't be living there anymore.
You're scaring me.

BTW, did you know that Silicon Valley is the region of the country with the highest concentration of SuperFund sites?
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Old 04-15-2014, 05:22 AM   #4
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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You're scaring me.

BTW, did you know that Silicon Valley is the region of the country with the highest concentration of SuperFund sites?
My speculation is that the odds are better than 50/50 that this area becomes the graphene research center for Greater Boston. There will be three or four university consortium research centers, e.g., like Whitehead, Broad, Koch etc in Kendall, surrounded by private companies doing breadboarding, prototypes, proof of concept stuff. Little to no manufacturing.

If it happens, all the residential east of N. Harvard St. is vulnerable, no different than the light manufacturing / commercial service industries in east Cambridge. There will be a graphene R&D spillover into Cambridgeport, and a monorail along the right-of-way of the Grand Junction between North Allston and Kendall.

MIT is second to Rice University in having the highest number of graphene patents. Below is a link to a press release from Rice dated last week on potential use of graphene for electronic displays. (I was curious as to what Rice was doing.)

http://news.rice.edu/2014/04/07/reba...-for-graphene/

As a university, all one needs is one big patent success: Google has paid Stanford over $300 million in licensing fees to use a single hypertext search patent.
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Old 04-16-2014, 12:34 PM   #5
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Boston Graphene Economy Discussion

What's so great about converting even more of Allston to industrial? We need housing in this city, Allston's a prime spot. Mixing some offices and labs is fine. Graphene heavy industry can go somewhere else. Even in Kendall they want more residential.

Also, yes, the Windom Street neighborhood is more owner occupied than most parts of Allston.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:08 PM   #6
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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What's so great about converting even more of Allston to industrial? We need housing in this city, Allston's a prime spot. Mixing some offices and labs is fine. Graphene heavy industry can go somewhere else. Even in Kendall they want more residential.

Also, yes, the Windom Street neighborhood is more owner occupied than most parts of Allston.
Heavy industry? Graphene is made in a clean room just like other electronics. You probably cannot even tell which buildings at MIT or Harvard house a cleanroom just by looking.

To be honest, I'm not sure why any of you think there will ever be large buildings associated with graphene research. It requires way way way less water and ventilation than the bio buildings in Kendall. I work in a full production GaAs fab and you'd never know its not a 2 story office building except for a couple vents on the roof. In fact, 2/3 or more of the building is office and testing facilities. The fab is small.
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Old 04-16-2014, 02:52 PM   #7
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

You're comparing it to silicon. As I pointed out earlier, and as most people don't realize, Silicon Valley has massive environmental problems thanks to the last fifty years of computer industry. Some of the worst in the country.

Maybe graphene doesn't cause the same problems. Maybe with environmental review in place (unlike the dirty 1970s) it won't be a problem. I don't know.

But I really don't see how an industrial sector actively taking over and bulldozing homes is going to be good for the city. I'm all for mixing of safe commercial activity, and even safe industrial activity, but why in the world would you want the end result of all this process to be another desolate industrial-only scar with no residents or life?

We already have the Seaport, after all.
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Old 04-16-2014, 04:02 PM   #8
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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You're comparing it to silicon. As I pointed out earlier, and as most people don't realize, Silicon Valley has massive environmental problems thanks to the last fifty years of computer industry. Some of the worst in the country.

Maybe graphene doesn't cause the same problems. Maybe with environmental review in place (unlike the dirty 1970s) it won't be a problem. I don't know.

But I really don't see how an industrial sector actively taking over and bulldozing homes is going to be good for the city. I'm all for mixing of safe commercial activity, and even safe industrial activity, but why in the world would you want the end result of all this process to be another desolate industrial-only scar with no residents or life?

We already have the Seaport, after all.
Go easy with the NIMBY hyperbole. Nobody is firing up the bulldozers just yet. Lower Allston is a purely residential area and stands to benefit enormously from diversified use. I don't think anyone was advocating switching from one single-use to a different single-use. I interpreted stellarfun's comment to suggest the current residents of Lower Allston would be priced out if it ever became a mixed-used neighborhood with improved transit. In other words: desirable.

The sins of Silicon Valley of the 1970's are mitigated by both regulations and economics. If graphene is good for anything (which is almost certainly is not) and if metro Boston becomes a hub of graphene research (could very well be Houston, or San Diego, or... a million other places) then any activity would be confined to research facilities a la pharmaceutical research in Kendall/Seaport. Large-scale manufacturing will be in Asia or if we are lucky, 128.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:53 PM   #9
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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Go easy with the NIMBY hyperbole. Nobody is firing up the bulldozers just yet. Lower Allston is a purely residential area and stands to benefit enormously from diversified use. I don't think anyone was advocating switching from one single-use to a different single-use. I interpreted stellarfun's comment to suggest the current residents of Lower Allston would be priced out if it ever became a mixed-used neighborhood with improved transit. In other words: desirable.

The sins of Silicon Valley of the 1970's are mitigated by both regulations and economics. If graphene is good for anything (which is almost certainly is not) and if metro Boston becomes a hub of graphene research (could very well be Houston, or San Diego, or... a million other places) then any activity would be confined to research facilities a la pharmaceutical research in Kendall/Seaport. Large-scale manufacturing will be in Asia or if we are lucky, 128.
No one is putting industrial production facilities making or using graphene components into Allston, anymore than silicon wafer production is found anywhere in Boston.

IF graphene is THE technological product of the 21st Century, and IF Boston is to survive, if not thrive, by having a knowledge-based economy, then it will need to be a center for graphene research.

I have suggested that the Harvard-owned, transportation-related wasteland might be a good candidate site for such a center. There may also be 50-100 acres of underutilized, largely empty land elsewhere in Boston/Cambridge that could be a candidate.. This other site, if it exists, might be better suited for such a center than Harvard's land. But I don't know, in part, because I am unaware if another such site exists.

Often the cause of breaking up a neighborhood is rising assessments, and rising property taxes. A few houses are sold at a premium, greatly higher than the assessed value. The assessors raise the assessed value of similar homes in the neighborhood, and taxes go up. Taxes go up enough and homeowners begin questioning whether they can afford to live in their homes anymore, then they sell, usually for a wonderful capital gain. Properties turn over, and the neighborhood changes.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:57 PM   #10
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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Often the cause of breaking up a neighborhood is rising assessments, and rising property taxes. A few houses are sold at a premium, greatly higher than the assessed value. The assessors raise the assessed value of similar homes in the neighborhood, and taxes go up. Taxes go up enough and homeowners begin questioning whether they can afford to live in their homes anymore, then they sell, usually for a wonderful capital gain. Properties turn over, and the neighborhood changes.
Yes, but I just see no scenario in which more than a home or two are demolished. I see LA gentrifying and looking like the side streets around Coolidge Corner. The housing stock is almost exactly the same, the only difference is meticulous maintenance, landscaping and restorations in Brookline, vs the vinyl siding, chain link and asphalt that makes up a large part of even owner-occupied Allston.

Whatever all the vacant industrial land is used for, I just don't forsee it causing demolition in the existing neighborhood. Infill development, restorations, gentrification, higher prices, and carriage home into apartment conversions, definitely.

Its the suggestion that the neighborhood will be plowed under that everyone is objecting to, not what the industrial land next to it will be used for.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:04 PM   #11
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
What's so great about converting even more of Allston to industrial? We need housing in this city, Allston's a prime spot. Mixing some offices and labs is fine. Graphene heavy industry can go somewhere else. Even in Kendall they want more residential.
The problem with this logic is that the land is owned by Harvard, and Harvard has much more of an interest in anything allowing it to compete with MIT's baby than it does in selling off land for apartments, condos or homes. If Harvard were desperate for more convenient grad student housing, maybe a couple of buildings, but this area is probably going to be institutional or commercial of some sort, with some mixed-use residential maybe thrown in to make it palatable to the BRA. Graphene or not, this isn't going to look like Windom St.

One other thing to consider (at least in suburbs, maybe not in Allston) is that residents generally don't like new housing because of school capacity issues. I realize the dynamic in Boston might be different.
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:38 PM   #12
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

Well, as I said, I'm all for mixing of safe uses. Retail, commercial, industrial -- as long as it's safe -- can all be compatible with residential. By now you all know how I feel about how Euclid-style zoning has been terribly abused over the last century, so I won't repeat.

The great thing about this site in Allston is the sheer quantity of land. There's lots of space to fit all kinds of things. And no, I don't anticipate more single family detached housing being created on it, but I also don't expect that the existing housing stock will be demolished anytime soon nor should it be. Turning this land into a single use district would be terrible, and even turning it into Kendall -- while a much better outcome -- would still be a repeat of certain mistakes that we ought to know to avoid by now.

Yes, there could be added price pressure on existing homeowners and potential residents, due to improvements in the neighborhood. That's why it's important for the community to somehow get Harvard to actively work on that issue. It's a topic that I think about on a regular basis. We need a mix of housing options for a mix of income levels, and it's not enough to do "transportation improvements" as if they existed in a bubble. They don't. Housing, land use and transportation are all inextricably intertwined and have to be considered together.
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Old 04-18-2014, 03:21 PM   #13
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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You're comparing it to silicon. As I pointed out earlier, and as most people don't realize, Silicon Valley has massive environmental problems thanks to the last fifty years of computer industry. Some of the worst in the country.
Due to dumping of chemicals in the era before any environmental laws/awareness. The key difference here is that the production itself is not inherently polluting it's surroundings, in contrast to something like a coal power plant which is going to pollute the surrounding area as a fact of it's operation. There are not going to be any major issues today.

Otherwise, fattony is correct, it's not that big and beyond some minor additional equipment, the facility is just another office building as far as appearance goes.

Quote:
But I really don't see how an industrial sector actively taking over and bulldozing homes is going to be good for the city. I'm all for mixing of safe commercial activity, and even safe industrial activity, but why in the world would you want the end result of all this process to be another desolate industrial-only scar with no residents or life?
Well, an important part of a city is that people need to have jobs in it. It's not just residential development the city needs, and high-tech industrial is not really akin to heavy industrial in terms of impact. It's done in quiet buildings that look like office buildings, and generally employs a lot of engineers.
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Old 04-18-2014, 04:03 PM   #14
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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Originally Posted by stellarfun
IF graphene is THE technological product of the 21st Century, and IF Boston is to survive, if not thrive, by having a knowledge-based economy, then it will need to be a center for graphene research.
This is Rifleman level mongering... Boston is doomed unless it becomes the center of graphene research?
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Old 04-18-2014, 04:36 PM   #15
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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This is Rifleman level mongering... Boston is doomed unless it becomes the center of graphene research?
That's not what I said.

I wrote that Boston's economy is knowledge-based,
--do you disagree?

and that if graphene is the technological product of the 21st Century, a knowledge-based economy has to have a leadership role in that technology.
--do you disagree?
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Old 04-19-2014, 12:10 PM   #16
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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That's not what I said.

I wrote that Boston's economy is knowledge-based,
--do you disagree?
I would agree with this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stellarfun View Post
and that if graphene is the technological product of the 21st Century, a knowledge-based economy has to have a leadership role in that technology.
--do you disagree?
Boston is not only NOT a leader in silicon integrated circuits (which will always be a bigger market than graphene, now and forever), we are barely a blip on the radar. We have been a knowledge-based economy all this time, with no significant participation in the single most important technology of our lifetimes.
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Old 04-19-2014, 12:21 PM   #17
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

This is the I-90 Improvements thread. Please take this graphene research stuff elsewhere.
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Old 04-19-2014, 12:26 PM   #18
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Re: Boston Graphene Economy Discussion

Done.
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:22 PM   #19
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Re: I-90 Interchange Improvement Project (Allston)

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Originally Posted by stellarfun View Post
That's not what I said.

I wrote that Boston's economy is knowledge-based,
--do you disagree?

and that if graphene is the technological product of the 21st Century, a knowledge-based economy has to have a leadership role in that technology.
--do you disagree?
This is what you said:

Quote:
IF graphene is THE technological product of the 21st Century, and IF Boston is to survive, if not thrive, by having a knowledge-based economy, then it will need to be a center for graphene research.
I read that as: If Boston is to survive and thrive with its knowledge-based economy intact it needs to be the center of graphene research.

That sounds to me like saying Boston will flounder should the above not occur.
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