New Interest in Alexandra Hotel Percolates through Neighborhood

A Boston development company apparently has expressed an interest in developing the Hotel Alexandra on Washington Street in the South End, preserving its historic nature and developing it without any additional properties attached.

JB Ventures (Eric Colavito) and TLC Development, both of Boston, have apparently approached the Landmarks Commission and City officials together about their interest to develop a residential property at the long-vacant Hotel Alexandra without having to go excessively high or include additional properties.

Several members of the community told the Sun that the developers have set up a meeting that would include the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA), the Chester Square Neighbors, the South End Forum, the Lenox Development, and the Hurley Blocks next week.

That would come after a sub-committee meeting on July 10 with Landmarks at City Hall.

“They apparently met with Landmarks and the Landmarks folks said they really liked the plans,” said one source. “They apparently believe they can do this with only minimal height increases and without having to do a PDA (Planned Development Area).”

JB Ventures and TLC are known for ultra-luxury developments in Fort Point and in Bay Village. They have an award-winning development in Bay Village on Piedmont Park at the moment.

The news came out of the blue, as Cambridge developer Eric Hoagland already has a purchase and sale agreement with the owner, the Church of Scientology, to buy the property. However, in recent months, Hoagland has expressed some discouragement with the condition of the building – which everyone knew was in bad shape but was even worse than expected.

Hoagland had said previously he is investigating the approach of using multiple properties in a PDA that would include redeveloping the Hotel and keeping its historic façade intact.

He apparently is still involved and waiting to see what happens with this most recent proposal.

The building is a major challenge to redevelop for many reasons, and numerous suitors over the years have tried and withdrawn from their attempts. One challenge is that there is no parking, and the foundation doesn’t permit any underground parking as it is only eight feet deep. Meanwhile, the Landmarks requirements for the building are also constricting. The height cannot be much higher than it is, and the remarkable façade must be preserved.

Some have said that just pinning the façade to keep it intact during construction amounts to around $3 million.

All that said, neighbors figured that any development by the new group would have to be ultra-luxury as well and command price tags rivaling those of penthouses at One Dalton in the Back Bay.

Time will tell, and more details are expected to come out during next week’s meetings.

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