The owners of the blighted, but historic, Hotel Alexandra property at the corner of Washington Street and Mass Avenue have filed a Project Notification Form (PNF) to switch their proposal from a hotel use to a 106-unit condo building – renewing hope that despite the crash in the Boston hotel market, the property might still see a revival.
Attorney Marc LaCasse, who represents Alexandra Partners, filed the PNF a few weeks back and said that despite the project being ready for hotel construction just prior to COVID-19, the plan was upended by the pandemic and forced to reconfigure.
Now, the plan will be to shift from a 150-room hotel to 106 residential condo units, with 71 of them being Compact Living Units (CLUs) under the City’s new guidelines. It will include a mix of studios and one-bedrooms that will be for sale.
Alexandra Partners told the Sun the hotel market in Boston has been severely impacted by COVID-19, one of the most impacted markets according to most industry studies. They said with that in mind, the boutique hotel concept approved in 2019 and nearly ready for construction in early 2020, had become unfinanceable.
“In short, building a new hotel in 2020 was completely out of the question and it is estimated by industry analysts that the Boston hotel market will not return to pre-pandemic levels for perhaps five years,” read a statement to the Sun from Alexandra Partners. “As a result, we have pivoted to converting the existing approved project to highly desirable compact residential con-dominium units that are smaller in scale and accordingly more affordable than most units on the market in the general area. These residences will be part of the strong fabric of the surrounding communities and add more residents with an ownership stake in the neighborhood. In accordance with the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy, 13 percent of the units will be affordable under BPDA guidelines. We remain entirely committed to a full and complete historic restoration and preservation of the Alexandra and developing these homes within the parameters of previously granted approvals. With this change, the project is now known as the Alexandra Residences.”
Some of the key points will be that the massing and preservation and design of the project will not change, including a ground floor restaurant or retail concept. Instead, most of the changes will be made to the interior layout to achieve the new floor plans for condo units rather than hotel rooms.
A rooftop lounge open to the public has been scrapped, however, and will become amenity space for those living in the proposed condo building.
That does ensure that the historic façade, which is made up of unique sand-stone and wrought-iron fencing, will be preserved as it was touted to be during review meetings in 2018 and 2019. The changes will require a review process, and will also require a trip to the Zoning Board. A key part of that will be the fact that the building will include no vehicle parking, but a lot of bicycle parking. That will likely be discussed in Article 80 community and IAG meetings that will be upcoming