Harvard Square Stores Say University Project Is Hurting Business

On one side of the street, the guys go to work in hard hats and construction boots. On the other, Larry Mahoney's pushing flashy neckties, custom suits and $700 smoking jackets at the Andover Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is the stark contrast now dividing Holyoke Street.

For the past couple years, Harvard University has been building The Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center, a brand new gleaming building in the heart of Harvard Square.

"They should have been more upfront about the length and duration," said Mahoney, the long time manager of the Andover Shop.

Mahoney says it has come at the expense of area businesses like his, which are now losing money. He says all this construction is causing street closures, and foot traffic is down.

"None of the businesses are getting reimbursed for the lost revenue," said Mahoney.

En Boca, a tapas restaurant up the block, recently shut down. The owners are now suing Harvard, accusing the university of down playing the scope of the project and its impact to the area.

Harvard told NBC10 Boston it cannot comment on the Andover Shop's decision to sell or what other businesses decide to do.

But Denise Hillson of the Harvard Square Business Association says the school followed through on its promises.

"Harvard made it really clear about what we can expect," Jillson said.

She says other factors are also in play.

"Online sales continue to increase, brick and mortar sales is decreasing," Jillson said.

After more than 60 years serving famous clientele like Yo Yo Ma and the Kennedy family, Mahoney says the owners are now selling the shop and building, as well as the other store in Andover. But right now, he wants to make it clear they're still open — even though the concrete and cranes are cramping his style.

"I think it's going to be a prolonged process," Mahoney said.

The current owners of the Andover Shop hope the new owners carry on the tradition of selling fine clothing. Construction at the student center is expected to be finished by the end of the summer.

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