By Beth Treffeisen
Hexagon Properties announced on Friday, Jan. 5, and made it official on Jan. 9 at the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing that they would no longer be pursuing a private club at 29 Commonwealth Ave. The team will soon be presenting plans for luxury residences at the location and will also be pursuing the Algonquin Club of Boston for the private club.
“Over the past several months, we have had extensive conversations with members of our community,” said Sandra Edgerley, president of Hexagon Properties. “We are grateful to our many neighbors and civic leaders who spent time learning about our new concept and our plans.”
Hexagon Properties will need to start over in the process with both the City and the neighborhood association to gain approval for converting the building into residential apartments.
The push to change it to a residential building came after more than 100 Back Bay residents against the private club showed up to the previous ZBA Hearing on October 31, 2017. The developers asked to postpone the hearing date at that time, with their attorney Mike Ross (a former City Councilor) saying that they needed a few extra weeks to help them in the community process.
This outcome of converting Haddon Hall into residences is the one preferred by the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB).
“Achieving this outcome is a tribute to the willingness of hundreds of Back Bay residents to make their opinions and feelings known and in particular the efforts of abutters and others to develop compelling evidence of the unsuitability of this location for the operation of such a club,” said Martyn Roetter, Chair of NABB in a statement.
“The proposal for this club aroused strong emotions, nevertheless positions were presented respectfully as well as clearly, emphasizing that objections were based not on the concept of the club itself but on the foreseeable insoluble problems of trying to operate it at this location.”
Initial plans included converting Haddon Hall, now home to offices, into an 800 member private club. Membership would include access to a fitness center, game room, guest rooms, outdoor patio and more.
Edgerley said that during the conversations with the community, two promising themes emerged. First, that the concept for an updated version of the private social club is important for the city and the Back Bay, and second, that a significant restoration of 29 Commonwealth Ave. is very much desired by the neighborhood.
Both Roetter and Edgerley thanked elected officials, including State Rep. Jay Livingstone, City Councilor Josh Zakim and Mayor Martin Walsh’s office, who worked together to bring the divergent parties together to create a positive resolution.
“We are inspired by the tremendous outpouring of support for our vision to bring together a diverse group of thought leaders to a modern gathering place of impeccable design and service, but we have concluded that 29 Commonwealth Ave. will not be that place,” said Edgerley.
Instead, Hexagon Properties are looking to the established Algonquin Club at 217 Commonwealth Ave. as their new location of choice.
“The Algonquin Club of Boston is a special place, uniquely designed specifically for the use of a private social club and founded by fifty individuals who valued accomplishment over inherited status,” said Edgerley in a statement.
“These principals are the leading reasons we are excited at the opportunity to refocus on this renowned tradition in the Back Bay and significantly invest in the restoration of the Algonquin Club of Boston, solidifying its place as the premier destination to gather among an innovative, diverse, multi-generational membership.”
Edgerley said they are currently engaged in a process of sharing their vision with the larger Algonquin Club membership.
“We are hopeful they will be as enthusiastic as we are for the future,” said Edgerley.