The Hotel Alexandra redevelopment plan will proceed on a very accelerated schedule in the coming month, with the goal of having the long-awaited project to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board by March.
The news came at the first Impact Advisory Group (IAG) meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Mandela Homes on Washington Street, where the developers told IAG members that their purchase and sale agreement expires in March.
That meant that reviews and comment on the project needed to wrap up by the end of February for the BPDA to prepare it by March 1. It would potentially be voted on at the March 14 board meeting – giving the massive, 12-story hotel redevelopment about a month for community reviews.
“The owners have another project going on and they need to exit one of these properties to get on their own,” said developer Jas Bhogal of JB Ventures. “It’s a unique situation because of the purchase and sale (agreement).”
The developers had not previously said that their agreement with the Church of Scientology expires in March, giving a short window to get approvals so that the project doesn’t fold. Bhogal said if the agreement expires, their offer would be rejected by the seller.
“That’s very fast,” said IAG Member Steve Fox, a little shocked. “We don’t want to slow you up, but that’s fast.”
Added IAG member Carol Blair, of Chester Square, “I certainly would not expect to get to an agreement (on mitigation) in one meeting.”
It was a curveball in the process, but one that a firm majority of the IAG and the community would like to find a way to overcome. Many are excited about the concept of the project, and hope that the expedited schedule can be accommodated.
The Alexandra has been a thorn in the side of the South End for decades, having been mostly vacant aside from a hair care business on the first floor for decades.
The striking sandstone façade is one that sticks out in the South End and across the City, and many believe that this could be the last chance to save the old building and re-purpose the property.
That was affirmed by several neighbors.
“I’ve been a resident for 35 years and I have driven by and walked by that building thousands of times and it is a sin to see it in this condition,” said one neighbor. “I would encourage the IAG to accommodate them…Please try to squeeze these meetings in so we can have a positive outcome for the entire community.”
Bud Larievy said it is seemingly now or never.
“If we don’t do this now, there is a safety issue and we don’t want the side of the Alexandra Hotel falling into Mass. Ave. towards the 7-Eleven,” he said. “That’s a real big issue for those of us abutting this building.”
The IAG agreed to an expedited schedule of meetings on several topics. They will be as follows:
•Jan. 30, 6 p.m., Mandela Homes Community Room. Design and Transportation focus.
•Feb. 13, 6 p.m., Mandela Homes Community Room. Noise and Construction Management focus. •Feb. 27, 6 p.m. Mandela Homes Community Room. Mitigation and Community Benefits focus.