On Dec. 18, Fenway Sports Group filed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) regarding its proposed Fenway Theater and Fenway Park Improvements.
The Boston Sun reported this summer that the venue would be a fully enclosed, 5,000-seat indoor performance art theater that would be used for the purpose of bringing in artists who cannot fill a larger venue. It would operate year-round, and is not intended to replace the summer concerts at Fenway Park.
The filing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the BPDA is a “formal step to begin the review process,” said David Friedman, senior vice president for Legal and Governmental Affairs for the Red Sox.
In the letter, Fenway Sports Group expresses its intent to file an Expanded Project Notification Form (PNF) for the theater and improvements. The filing of the Expanded PNF will take a look at many of the issues that community members have expressed concerns about, including (but not limited to) transportation, infrastructure, and environmental resources.
According to the LOI, the project will be located “on certain property” at 175 Ipswich St., which is currently a paved lot with a building that “houses dining/function spaces, back of house service areas, and parking for Fenway Park.”
This theater would be situated in an area where there are already numerous heavily used concert and entertainment venues, including the House of Blues.
“The theater would host a wide variety of entertainment and civic events on a year-round basis, enlivening the Lansdowne Street entertainment district on both Fenway Park event days and non-event days and providing a steady stream of patrons for the neighborhood’s many restaurants and retail establishments,” the LOI states.
The Fenway Park Improvements, which were not announced at the summer Red Sox Neighborhood meeting, consist of a new area for concession stands and restaurants connected to the back of the bleachers at Fenway Park. The improvements would also include a new function space for private events and large groups, as well as interior modifications that would allow for spaces (such as a lobby and loading dock) to be shared between the proposed Fenway Theater and Fenway Park.
The proposed theater would sit on a zoning sub-district of the Fenway Neighborhood District, and according to the LOI, “the Fenway Theater has been designed to fit within the zoning envelope for the site and is not expected to require zoning relief from dimensional requirements of the Code.”
It will, however, trigger Large Project review under Article 80 of the Code.
Jonathan Gilula, executive vice president/Business affairs for the Red Sox said in the letter that they “look forward to working with the BPDA on the successful completion of the Article 80B Large Project Review process,” and they are “committed” to working with City agencies, elected officials, BPDA staff, and the community to design a project that will “enhance” the Fenway neighborhood.
“We’re looking forward to engaging with neighbors in the new year to discuss the project and get their feedback,” Friedman said.