Fenway Corners Project Now Proposed To Include Parcel at 96–98 Brookline Ave

The proposed  Fenway Corners (west) project is now expected to include a previously omitted parcel at 96-98 Brookline Ave., which will be integrated into a building planned for the corner of Brookline Avenue and Jersey Street.

​WS-Fenway-Twins Realty Venture LLC – a partnership comprising the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox; the D’Angelo family, who own the 47 sports apparel and memorabilia company; and Newton-based WS Development, which led the redevelopment effort in the Seaport – intend to redevelop 13 parcels located south of the Massachusetts Turnpike near Fenway Park on four major blocks along Jersey Street, Brookline Avenue, Van Ness Street, and Lansdowne Street, respectively, that collectively total around 5.32 acres.

The proposed project would accommodate a total of 266 dwelling units, including 53 affordable units; 10,000 square feet of civic space; and the creation of the Fenway Family Center, a daycare/early childhood ed center for up to 100 children. The project will also provide around 1,500 new parking spaces, along with the extension of Richard B. Ross Way from Van Ness Street to Brookline Avenue. The developer has pledged to completely fund the restoration and renovation of the city-owned Duck House into a public facility as one of the project amenities as well.

Yanni Tsipis, senior vice president of WS Development, said during a joint-Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and public meeting sponsored virtually by the Boston Planning & Development Agency on Tuesday, Jan. 16, that the developer is now seeking to amend the existing PDA (Planned Development Area) No. 136, and to file a related notice of project change to include the parcel at 96-98 Brookline Ave. The parameters of the current PDA now “run around the third-party site,” which is currently occupied by a ground-floor restaurant and bar, Fenway Johnnies, said Tsipis.

The previously proposed building envelope would be adjusted to allow for the inclusion of the parcel at 96-98 Brookline Ave., said Tsipis, as well as for the extension of the existing building at 80 Brookline St., both at grade and above-grade, to create a “unified streetscape.”

The parcel at 96-98 Brookline Ave. would have a height limit of 80 feet, consistent with 80 Brookline Ave., said Tsipis, and the new building there would comprise 36,000 square feet of lab space and 2,000 square feet of retail use.

Tsipis presented two different architectural designs for the revised project, with the first option proposing a 10-foot setback on Brookline Avenue to allow for wider sidewalks at the corner of Richard B. Ross Way per the city’s request.

The second option would have no setback on Brookline Avenue, said Tsipis, but add height to the existing building at 96-98 Brookline Ave., to create a “street wall.”

In both scenarios, the proposed change would have no impact on the project’s FAR (Floor Area Ratio), added Tsipis, although since it’s a PDA amendment, the matter would be subject to review by the Boston Zoning Commission.

CAC member Kathy McBride expressed her preference for the first option to help alleviate the already “crowded” sidewalk. “As much sidewalk as possible would be helpful in that crazy area,” she said.

While the developer intends to utilize the additional space created via the integration of the parcel at 96-98 Brookline Ave. to allow for 36,000 more square feet to the proposed 1.75 million square feet in lab space, CAC member Rich Giordano said he would prefer to see 40 to 60 units of housing there instead.

In response, Tsipis offered three reasons why the developer is proposing the new square footage as lab space, rather than housing.

First, WS Development and the Red Sox organization are “always cautious” when it comes to building housing near the ballpark, especially in light of the residential building already proposed for 100 Brookline Ave.

Second, the developer maintains that housing wouldn’t be economically feasible on the added parcel, given its small footprint and of the added parcel and due to the city’s affordable-housing and carbon-neutrality requirements for new projects.

Lastly, Tspis said extending the building at 100 Brookline Ave. to the east would push the project over the FAR threshold.

“It’s not prudent through any of these lenses to propose housing on the site,” added Tspis.

During public testimony, Tim Horn, president of the Fenway Civic Association and a longtime neighborhood resident, said he too would prefer to see the newly created square footage devoted to housing and added that he believes if the developer were to use the new space for housing, the neighborhood would likely be more receptive to any requested FAR zoning relief.

​The BPDA’s public-comment period for the proposed PDA amendment for this project is open through Friday, Jab. 26; public comments can be submitted via the BPDA’s project page at http://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/fenway-corners, or via email to Quinn Valcich, BPDA project manager, at [email protected].

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