BPDA Board Unanimously Approves Permanent Northeastern Student Housing at Sheraton’s South Tower

During its Jan. 18 virtual hearing, the Boston Planning & Development Agency board unanimously approved an application that will enable Northeastern University to convert one of the two towers comprising the Sheraton Boston Hotel in the Back Bay from temporary into permanent student housing.

A rendering of the entrance to the South Tower of the Sheraton Boston Hotel in the Back Bay, which will go from temporary to permanent dormitory space for Northeastern University.

​Hawkins Way Capital, a Beverly Hill, Calif.-based private equity firm, together with Värde Partners, an international investment firm, reportedly purchased the hotel at 39 Dalton St. for $233 million from Host Hotels & Resorts in February of 2022. Its North Tower will continue to operate as a hotel while the South Tower, which has served as temporary dorm space for Northeastern undergraduates since the summer/fall of 2020, will become permanent student-housing for the university, with 426 sleeping rooms for approximately 856 undergraduate students.

The project includes plans to repurpose the existing hotel’s ground-floor retail area (an approximately 6,000-square foot hair/nail salon accessible to both hotel guests and non-guests) and third-floor hotel area to create approximately 18,000 square feet of dedicated student amenities, including uses like a student lounge, café/dining, quiet study area, laundry room, and/or fitness center, according to the BPDA. The project also proposes creating a new main entry to the South Tower for students.

Promised project mitigation will include a $117,000 contribution to the Boston Transportation Department in support of the city’s bikeshare system, as well as a $256,000 contribution for off-site safety and accessibility improvements to Belvidere and Dalton streets.

The site’s Planned Development Area (PDA), which is defined by the BPDA as “an overlay zoning district that establishes special zoning controls for large or complex projects,” will be amended for the project as the developer is seeking a 10-year term for the use of the South Tower as a Northeastern dorm, with the option to renew the contract for another 10-year term at the BPDA’s discretion, said Quinn Valcich, BPDA project manager.

The proposal garnered support from City Councilors Sharon Durkan, Ed Flynn, and Erin Murphy, said Valcich, and former City Councilor Michael Flaherty also sent a letter of support for the project before he left office. The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay submitted a letter of non-opposition to the BPDA regarding the proposal, too.

During public testimony, Joan Carragher, president of the St. Botolph Neighborhood Association board, voiced her strong support for the project, calling Northeastern a “fantastic neighbor.” She also applauded the repurposing of the building as a “win-win for us all.”

Likewise, Lee Steele, a member of the city’s Impact Advisory Group (IAG) for the project and a member of the St. Botolph Neighborhood Association, echoed Carragher’s enthusiasm for what he called “an absolutely terrific project.”

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