WS Development, Red Sox Unveil Massive Plans for Fenway

A collaboration of development groups, including the Red Sox, have unveiled major details into the long-awaited plan to redevelop 5.3 acres of land abutting and near Fenway Park, filing a Project Notification Form (PNF) with the City on June 3.

The development includes 13 privately owned parcels and would re-develop four blocks including Jersey Street, Brookline Avenue, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street – providing a major upgrade to the area just around the historic ballpark. The project is led by WS Development in an LLC entitled WS-Fenway-Twins Realty Venture.

“The Project is a transformative initiative that will dramatically enhance the quality and character of the public realm and pedestrian experience in the area proximate to Fenway Park and in the Fenway neighborhood as a whole,” wrote Yanni Tsipis, senior vice president of WS, which is based in Chestnut Hill. “Development of the Project will create places, experiences, and amenities that will become part of the day-to-day rhythm of those living and working in the surrounding community and improve the quality of life for all Fenway residents. The Proponent has been actively engaged in dozens of conversations with many community stakeholders as part of this planning process and will continue these ongoing conversations to gather feedback on how to improve the Project through the course of the Development Review process.”

The nuts and bolts of the plan – whose specifics have not really been shared until now, despite many neighborhood discussions about overall concerns and desires – includes 2.1 million sq. ft. of building area for office/research, residential, and retail uses. It will also include the reconstruction and improvement of around 3.3 acres of public roadways, sidewalks, and other areas of public ownership. There will be 1,060 new parking spaces, and an extension of the Richard B. Ross Way from Van Ness Street to Brookline Avenue.

“(That achieves) one of the City of Boston’s long-planned transportation goals for the neighborhood,” read the letter.

The development plan for the four blocks includes the following:

•Jersey Street Block Parcels to be redeveloped with residential, commercial,

retail/restaurant, and other uses in the form of up to five buildings totaling

approximately 865,000 sq. ft.

•92-114 Brookline Avenue parcels to be redeveloped with commercial and

retail/restaurant uses totaling approximately 697,000 sq. ft.

•70 Van Ness Street parcel to be redeveloped as commercial and retail/restaurant uses totaling approximately 327,300 sq. ft.

•45-67 Lansdowne Street parcels to be redeveloped with commercial and

retail/restaurant uses totaling approximately 202,300 sq. ft.

Overall, the uses weigh heavily toward office and research, making up 1.665 million sq. ft. of the overall building program, while only 213,500 sq. ft. is dedicated to residential development.

A significant change to the area would be the reconstruction of Jersey Street between Van Ness and Brookline Avenue, creating a permanent pedestrian-only open space that would no longer be open to vehicles. This new space would comprise 30,239 sq. ft. of publicly owned space.

Meanwhile, the extension of the Richard B. Ross Way would be a multi-mode connection that would cut through the center of the project. It would be a key vehicular and protected bicycle connection for the Fenway neighborhood.

“This section of Ross Way will also be programmed with several bike amenities including a Blue Bike station and a public Bike Hub, providing an area of respite and service for local cyclists and those passing through on their commute,” read the filing.

There has yet to be any phasing plan of the project, but the developer indicated they would like to start construction in 2022 and have a five to seven-year buildout.

As a nod to the many meetings the Red Sox and other collaborators have had with the neighborhood, the PNF started off with six guiding principles for the development plan. Those principals, it said, came from “long-term relationships and many conversations with Fenway residents and other

Stakeholders…” Those guiding principles include:

•Put people and bicycles first. The city is for people and they must take priority in terms of experience, convenience, and comfort.

•Respect and preserve history. This principle applies not only to the historic

ballpark itself, but also to several of the buildings and street networks that

surround it.

•Celebrate and embrace the grit and grain of the area. The area around Fenway Park has a grit and authenticity of place, as well as a diverse hierarchy of streets, ways, and paths, all of which should be embraced rather than erased.

•Focus on small, but character-defining, anchor uses. The identity and character of a neighborhood is not only set by its largest anchors (in this case, Fenway Park). Small, but mighty, places and spaces play an equally important role in creating a neighborhood’s identity and should be incorporated into the design and programming of the Project.

•Give attention to small details that can make the place. The most beloved urban places are not necessarily forged by grand-scale and vast open spaces; they can and often are born of beautiful details – an intricate brick pattern, a hand-carved café sign, well-maintained planter boxes and street trees, moments of artistic discovery – folded into the public realm.

•Avoid becoming a sports theme park. Many ballparks around the country are

surrounded by sports-focused developments, which is the opposite of what the Proponent envisions here, in the Fenway neighborhood. The Project should feel like the neighborhood is enveloping the ballpark, and not that the ballpark is spreading its influence into the neighborhood.

The Fenway Development kick-off public meeting with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) is on June 22, at 6 p.m., in a virtual meeting. Other meetings will be on July 13 at 6 p.m. (virtual), and on July 19 at 6 p.m. (virtual). The Public Comment Period ends on July 23.

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