Fenway Center Phase 1 Set to Begin Construction in the Spring of 2017

By Beth Treffeisen

The Meredith Management Company proposed several changes to the Fenway Center – Parcel Seven Air Rights project on October 5 at the Fenway Community Center.

The project is slated to include 1,099,000 square feet of residential, office, retail and parking uses within five structures that will be both on land and on air rights adjacent to and over the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The site is bounded by Beacon Street, Maitland Street, and Brookline Ave., and is next to the recently improved state funded, full-service Yawkey Commuter Rail Station.

This project will span over two phases. The first will include two buildings of mixed retail and residential use that will sit on land next to Yawkey Station; the second will include two buildings of both residential and mix use office space along with a shared garage that will be located on the deck.

The modifications to the project that were initially approved in 2009 by the Boston Redevelopment Authority include removing the mix-used office and residential tower to be built on the deck from Phase 1 to Phase 2 and shifting mass from one of the residential buildings in phase one to the tower that will be built on the deck in phase two.

By doing so, one of the residential buildings in Phase 1 will be more streamlined and efficient. This will also allow for the increase in size of the mix-used office and residential tower that will be located on the air rights deck.

Making these changes will help increase the overall density of the deck and make the phase two project more financeable and attractive to future equity partners.

Construction of Phase 1 is expected to start in the second quarter of next year, as early as May.

Phase 1 will also include a pedestrian deck over the eastbound railroad track of Yawkey Station to connect Beacon Street to the second level of the Station.

“This will create a great cross town connection,” said John Rosenthal from Meredith Management. “That vision that you where all a part of creating is now reality and we are filling it in with residential and mix use buildings.”

The comment period from the public on this project will close on October 15, 2016.

Past projects in Boston that the Meredith Management has worked on include 315 on A, located in the Fort Point Channel, Troy Boston luxury apartments in the South End, and The Eddy apartments in East Boston.

“We worked 20 years to get a shovel in the ground,” said Rosenthal about revamping that part of Fenway. “Most people thought it would not happen.”

Now, focus has geared towards beginning phase one and gaining financing to support the construction of the deck and buildings in phase two.

Rosenthal explained that building the deck that will span over the highway would be very complicated. The pillars have to go down to the bedrock and securing the space to do so will involve lane closures and coordinating with MassDOT.

“There’s a reason the last deck built was Copley in 1980,” said Rosenthal about the deck that currently holds the Prudential Center and is located in the Back Bay. “It is challenging to say the least and not all air rights are created equally.”

Some previous projects in the area had difficulty constructing the decks due to traffic concerns but, for this project that spans over four lanes of traffic, Rosenthal believes it will be possible to secure those lane closures.

One big concern that the community had over the project was the plan to build another community center as part of the phase one buildings. It was originally planned for before the current Fenway Community Center (FCC) located at 1282 Boylston Street was created.

“This one took so long to build and took a lot of voices to create,” said Danielle Torres executive director of the FCC. “I think that space would be better suited for something else – I think it would be a competing business.”

Phase one apartments that will include 46 percent studios, 38 percent one bedrooms and 16 percent two bedrooms has Grace Holley, the community planner at the Fenway Community Development Corporation concerned.

“I wish the unit makeup was different,” said Holley. “I wish it was more geared towards families.”

Holley was faced with the same answer from many of the developers coming to the Boston area about getting more family units in being it is nearly impossible to fund the building cost to build for families.

Holley said, “It’s a problem that needs to be solved, especially for something being built that will significantly change the whole fabric of the neighborhood.”

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