Looking back at ‘22
2022 has been an eventful year in Boston.
A flurry of new development underway in the Fenway was accentuated with the opening of the MGM Music Hall at Fenway – a 5,000-seat indoor music venue that sits directly adjacent to Fenway Park. The Boston Planning & Development Agency also began in earnest the public process to establish new planning guidelines for the neighborhood, which how has several major projects in the pipeline, with a virtual meeting held earlier this month
Elsewhere, the South End Landmark District Commission approved the proposed redevelopment of Hotel Alexandra into condos on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The BPDA board also green-lit the proposed redevelopment of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) campus in the South End into a mixed-use project, which would include a senior-care facility, as well as condos, at its Dec. 15 monthly meeting.
As for events in the city, the Mass Ave Coalition Festival held Sept. 18 in Chester Square Park was undoubtedly a highlight of ’22. The festival was graced by favorable, weather and brought neighbors together to enjoy food, activities, and exhibits in the park at what will hopefully become an annual tradition.
Open Newbury Street also made a welcome return for six consecutive Sundays beginning in late August. For these events, the city again transformed the stretch of Newbury Street between Arlington Street and Massachusetts Avenue into a pedestrian-only walkway for what has become a popular and eagerly anticipated annual tradition in the Back Bay.
In June, the city also pondered the future of the Back Bay with Copley Connect – a 10-day pilot program which shut down a section of Dartmouth Street between Boylston Street and St. James Avenue to motor-vehicle traffic to temporarily provide expanded pedestrian space at Copley Square Park for new activities, including a Celtics “watch party” on June 11.
• On Jan. 3, District 2 Councilor Ed Flynn was unanimously voted in as the new council president for a two-year term by his fellow councilors during the City Council’s first meeting of the new year on Jan. 3 at City Hall’s Christopher A. Iannella Chamber.
• On Feb. 13, Members of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Homelessness Task Force participated in the “Winter Walk” – a fundraiser to end homelessness.
Mayor Michelle Wu and City Councilor Kenzie Bok greeted the large crowd in Copley Square as they headed up Boylston Street and through the Boston Common before making their way back.
• On Thursday, Feb. 24, during School Vacation Week, Mayor Michelle Wu joined the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to bring the annual Children’s Winter Festival back to the Boston Common Parade Ground.
• On Monday, March 14, the Bay Village Historic District Commission held a public meeting to review a mock-up of an electrified gas street-lamp in the area of 212 Stuart St., which could set the city’s standard for its “gas-to-electric streetlight retrofit” throughout the rest of Bay Village, as well as on Beacon Hill and Marlborough Street in the Back Bay.
Another public meeting sponsored by the Bay Village Historic District Commission on Wednesday, March 30, when the mock-ups of two streetlights were viewed in the area of 212 Stuart St.
The Bay Village Historic District Commission unanimously approved the installation of nine new electrified streetlights as part of developer Greystar’s residential project at 212 Stuart St. at its April 12 public hearing, which took place virtually.
• On Monday, April 4, the Esplanade Association’s annual meeting returned as an in-person event at the Westin Copley Place Hotel’s the Staffordshire Room after going remote for the previous two years due to the pandemic.
• On April 29, the Friends of the Public Garden’s Green & White Ball returned after a two-year absence to the Four Seasons.
More than 170 guests were on hand for cocktails, dinner, and dancing, while raising nearly $500,000 to support the ongoing care of the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
• On May 5, the public got its first look at the proposed Stanhope Hotel during a virtual meeting sponsored by the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
HN Gorin, a Boston family-owned real estate company, intends to redevelop the Red Lantern building at 39 Stanhope St. in the Back Bay into a new 21-story, 300-plus-key hotel with on-site amenities for guests, including serving food and breakfast service, limited meeting space, laundry, and a fitness center.
• On Sunday, May 22, Rev. Nancy S. Taylor delivered her final sermon at Old South Church, bringing an end to her 17-year tenure as the church’s 20th Senior Minister, as well as her 40 years in the ministry.
She was called on by a vote of the congregation as the 20th Senior Minister of Old South Church on Oct. 3, 2004, becoming the first female Senior Minister in the history of the church, which dates back to 1669.
• On Tuesday, June 7, the final beam over the Massachusetts Turnpike was put in place for the Parcel 12 air-rights project during a ceremony to mark the milestone attended by Gov. Charlie Baker, among other elected officials and luminaries.
Developer Samuels & Associates is transforming the “critical” intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston and Newbury streets in the Back Bay, into a 545,000 square-foot, mixed-use development comprising two towers sitting atop the Massachusetts Turnpike and MBTA Commuter Railway.
• On Tuesday, June 7, the city launched Copley Connect – a 10-day pilot program which shut down a section of Dartmouth Street between Boylston Street and St. James Avenue to motor-vehicle traffic to temporarily provide expanded pedestrian space at Copley Square Park.
This allowed numerous activities to be hosted in the area for the public to enjoy, including a Celtics “watch party “ in Copley Square on June 11, as well as the Donna Summer Disco Party on June 16.
• On Tuesday, June 14, between 750 and 800 guests were on hand for the Fenway Civic Association’s annual Rose Garden Picnic outside the Kelleher Rose Garden.
The event featured food, music, and friends as well as a live performance of bluegrass and America music by The Bagboys.
• On Tuesday, June 28, South End-based Transom Real Estate and Camber Development of Boston, together with Wheelock Street Capital of Greenwich, Conn., filed a Project Notification Form (PNF) with the city on for a proposed project, which would raze five dilapidated South End buildings to make way for a five-story office/laboratory building.
The proposed new 79,600 square-foot building at 65 Wareham St. would contain approximately 2,000 square feet of first-floor retail and around 44 below-grade parking spaces.
• On Tuesday, June 28, the Friends of the Public Garden’s annual Summer Celebration returned to Brewer Fountain Plaza on the Boston Common after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
• On Thursday, July 21, the Esplanade Association’s 11th annual Summer Dock Party was held at the Community Boating docks.
• On July 27, the Friends of the Public Garden’s Summer Party returned to the UMass Club after a three-year hiatus.
• On Tuesday, Aug. 2, Mayor Michelle Wu joined members of the South End community, along with officers from Boston Police D-4 and other elected officials, for National Night Out at Peters Park in the South End.
At this time, Captain Steve Sweeney of Boston Police D-4 presented the Neighborhood Night Out 2022’s Top Crime Watch Group of the Year Award on behalf of Boston Police to the East Berkley Neighborhood Association, with the group’s current chair Leslie Fine and past chair Ken Smith accepting the award.
• On Sunday, Aug. 21, the city transformed Newbury Street into a pedestrian-only walkway for the first of six annual Open Newbury Street events, which took place on consecutive Sundays and wrapped up Sept. 25.
• On Monday, Aug. 22, the MGM Music Hall at Fenway – an approximately 5,000-seat indoor music venue that sits adjacent to Fenway Park – held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 Lansdowne St.
• On Sunday, Sept. 18, the Mass Ave Coalition Festival was held in Chester Square Park.
The festival, which featured exhibits, live music, and free food and kids’ activities, among other offerings, was made possible by a collaborative effort between the four neighborhood associations comprising the coalition – Chester Square Neighbors, the Claremont Neighborhood Association, the St. Botolph Neighborhood Association, and the Worcester Square Neighborhood Association.
• On Oct. 27, the MBTA unveiled a revised proposal for its redesigned bus network map, including continued service for its Route 55 bus, which connects Fenway and Kenmore to the Back Bay. The bus route had initially been slated for elimination by the T last year until City Councilor Bok, together with the nonprofit Fenway CDC (Community Development Corporation, stepped up to lead a community effort that helped successfully save the service.
• On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Massachusetts voters supported Maura Healey in the general election for her historic victory to become the next Governor of Massachusetts.
• On Monday, Dec. 5, the Boston Planning & Development Agency held a virtual introductory meeting to launch the public process to establish new guidelines for development in the Fenway.
Four projects in the neighborhood are currently under review by the BPDA, including an approximately 553,000 square-foot lab/office building with additional retail, restaurant, and civic space proposed for 1400 Boylston St. (Star Market); Fenway Corners – a proposed, approximately 2.1 million square-foot project that would transform four blocks around the ballpark into several new buildings containing office/research, retail, and residential space; a pair of seven-story building containing a total of 111 residential units at 165 Park Drive; and 2 Charlesgate West, a 254,000 square-foot, mixed-use, mostly residential project containing 400 units.
The previous neighborhood-wide planning initiative for the neighborhood was conducted around 20 years ago, which was codified by the city with the adoption of Article 66 in 2004.
• On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the South End Landmark District Commission approved the proposed redevelopment of Hotel Alexandra.
The developer, Alexandra Partners, intends to transform the historic building at 1767-1796 Washington St. into “Alexandra Residences,” a 13-story, mixed-use project with ground floor restaurant and café space and 70 condo units.