The site of the Fenway Star Market is poised to become home to a lab and office building comprising four connected components with ground-floor retail, but no residential component, according to members of the project team on hand for a city-sponsored public meeting held virtually on Aug. 1.
Boston real-estate developer, Samuels & Associates, filed a Letter of Intent with the Boston Planning & Development Agency last December proposing an approximately 553,000 gross square-foot project, including approximately 498,000 square feet of office/research and development space; approximately 20,000 square feet of retail/restaurant/service and accessory uses and facilities on the ground-floor; approximately 30,000 square feet of enclosed loading and back-of-house space; an approximately 5,000 square-foot “cultural pavilion”; and over half an acre of landscaped green space, with underground parking to support the building’s programming.
The 2.38 acre, L-shaped project site wraps around Boylston Street to Park Drive and currently accommodates the single-story grocery store, as well as surface parking lots, a decommissioned gas station, and a Dunkin’ (Donuts) location, said David Manfredi, founding principal of Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects Ltd.
The project would only measure 105 feet wide to fit within the confines of the narrow parcel, said Mafredi, and would be divided into a four-part composition comprising Buildings A, B, C, and D. “Rather than a single building, we’re thinking about it having four or five component parts,” he said, adding that as the building ascends in height, it will be stepped back to create terraces on the upper floors on the west side.
Its massing would be “shaped” by the project’s proximity to the Emerald Necklace, added Manfredi, while its design would intend to maximize daylight into Ramler Park and open the “visual corridor” to the park’s northwest. There also would be no new shadows on the park on June 21 at 6 p.m., according to a new shadow study, added Manfredi.
On-site demolition won’t commence until 401 Park Drive, which will include Star Market’s new location, has opened, said Peter Sougarides, executive director of Samuels & Associates, adding that construction is now underway on that project.
The redevelopment of the old Star Market at 1400 Boylston St. then “might take two or three years, depending on construction,” said Sougarides.
In an effort to mitigate noise and other impacts, trucks would access the site below grade at Kilmarnock Street, said Manfredi, while all loading would be made on Kilmarnock Street, with trucks coming directly inside the building.
The “cultural pavilion,” which would be located adjacent to the new building, provides “an incredible opportunity to do something in that space that would be for the public,” said Abe Menzin, principal and executive vice president of Samuels & Associates. Besides building the venue, the developer has also committed to programming and maintaining it, he added.
Additionally, the project aim to add 300 more linear feet of greenspace to extend the 800 linear feet of existing greenspace on the east side of 401 Park (The Green), as well as to extend the greenspace at 421 Park, said consultant Keith LeBlanc
The new park space created through the project would have abundant seating and gathering spaces, said LeBlanc, although it would be different from The Green because only the “toe” of the new building would be located within its boundaries.
Asked how the open space could be preserved into perpetuity, Menzin said that it would be “memorialized and committed to in the permitting, and we also have a parks agreement so I think there are plenty of mechanisms for that.”
As part of the project, a bike lane on a raised curb would also be installed along Boylston Street, which, LeBlanc said, would align with the Boston Transportation Department’s plans for the neighborhood.
Matthew Brooks, vice president of the Fenway Civic Association, expressed his disappointment that the proposed project lacks residential housing, “especially since the project originally included in that component.”
Brooks was also dismayed to learn that the project would be delegated to the Brookline Avenue CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee), he said, despite assurance from the previous BPDA planning manager assigned to this project that it would have its own Impact Advisory Group (IAG).
“I had really hoped this would be split off and reviewed by an IAG, and that more than one abutter would be added to the CAC so we could have residents that are going to be affected by this project, that live by this project, that are going to be commenting on it,” said Brooks.
Michael Sinatra, the current BPDA project manager, said he was unaware of his predecessor’s pledge to having a dedicated IAG for the project and also told this reporter that since the meeting, three abutters have been named to the Brookline Avenue CAC.
Sinatra said he is working to finalize the date of the next CAC meeting, which would then determine the close of the public-comment period for this project, which was previously slated to end on Aug. 12, but has been extended. Public comments can be submitted now to Michael Sinatra, BPDA project manager, via email at [email protected]