Details of Project Proposed For Star Market Site Recapped at Virtual Meeting

The Boston Planning & Development Agency held a joint-Impact Advisory Group (IAG) and public meeting virtually on Wednesday, Jan. 17, to recap details of the proposed redevelopment of the Star Market site in the Fenway.

A rendering of the mixed-use project proposed for the Star Market site at 1400 Boylston St. in the Fenway.

​Boston-based commercial real-estate developer Samuels & Associates intends to redevelop just under 2.4 acre, L-shaped acre site at 1380-1420 Boylston St., which is currently occupied by a single-story Star grocery store, a decommissioned gas station, and surface parking lots, into to a mixed-use building comprising four interconnected sections.

​The approximately 553,000 gross square foot project will include approximately 498,000 square feet of office/research and development space; approximately 17,000 square feet of retail/restaurant/service and accessory uses and facilities on the ground floor; approximately 33,000 square feet of enclosed loading and back-of-house space; and 409 underground parking-spaces on three levels to support the building’s programming.

​The project’s promised $55 million in community benefits includes a $12 million contribution to build a 5,000 square-foot, free-standing civic building on the project site, which would likely be programmed as a new Fenway neighborhood branch of the Boston Public Library in response to the wishes of the community, said Peter Sougarides, a Samuels & Associates principal.

Fenway CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee) member Ryan Hatcher said he would prefer to see a bigger library on the site, considering most BPL neighborhood branches fall somewhere in the range of between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet.

​(The Fenway CAC is serving as the IAG for this project, according to Quinn Valcich, BPDA senior project manager.)

In response to the request for a bigger library on the site, Valcich said that the facility proposed there is envisioned as a “satellite branch,” rather than a full-scale neighborhood library branch. He added that the BPL would be undertaking its own programming study, which would inform and shape the facility’s programming.

Of the proposed library, Sougarides said its budget is now capped at $12 million and added that 5,000 square feet is a “substantial size,” especially when balancing it against the ample open space the project will provide.

Other promised community benefits from the project include an $18 million contribution to support the creation of Boston-based Transom Real Estate’s 117-unit residential project (of which 48 percent would be affordable homeownership units) at 165 Park Drive in the Fenway; a $1.3 million contribution to support additional affordable housing in partnership with the Fenway CDC (Community Development Corporation); and $20 million for the creation of one-half acre of publicly accessible open space along the Emerald Necklace and for public-realm improvements.

An additional $6.8 million has been allocated for linkage for housing and jobs, and another $2.7 million for the design and reconstruction of the Park/Boylston/Brookline Ave intersection and improved connections to the Fenway T station and the Emerald Necklace, said Sougarides, who added that around 45 percent of the overall site would be dedicated to the public realm; this includes three acres of publicly accessible space along Park Drive from the rail station to Peterborough Street, as well as 1,000 linear feet of newly created public-realm frontage along the Emerald Necklace.

Asked why the developer would be seeking an amendment to the PDA (Planned Development Area) for the site instead of relying on current zoning, Sougarides said, “A PDA is allowed in this district and it’s a way to capture all the details of the project.”

Sougarides also made the assurance that the public open space proposed by the project would be preserved, adding that greenspace is “part and parcel” to the PDA and other ancillary agreements, and that it would also be protected under the Parks Ordinance. “So you have a couple of levels of protection here,” he said.

District 8 City Councilor Sharon Durkan said she was “excited” to support this project, especially given the significant new greenspace created and its bountiful mitigation package.

Councilor Durkan asked the developer to consider the accessibility needs of the neighborhood’s aging population when selecting a provider in its promised three-year commitment to provide shuttle-bus services for neighborhood residents to and from the grocery store planned for 401 Park Drive, following the closure of the existing Star Market as the redevelopment project gets underway.

Likewise, Marie Fukuda, a longtime Fenway resident and neighborhood activist, urged the developer to provide long-term shuttle service for the benefit of older residents.

Fukuda also applauded the “synergy” among the BPDA, the BPL, and the developer in partnering on the proposed library branch.

Regarding sequencing of the project, CAC member Freddie Veikley asked that the intersections be “shortened” during the first step of the construction.

Sougarides responded that once construction gets underway, the first phase of the project would include excavating for the garage before building out the garage and then going vertically up to build a steel frame for the building itself. The infrastructure would then need to be installed, he said, as the front area is built up to a level grade to make way for the library.

Samuels would, however, consider a “short-term fix” before construction of the permanent intersections, said Sougarides.

The BPA’s public-comment period for the PDA for this project is open through Monday,. Jan. 29. To submit a public comment of for more information on the project, visit the BPDA’s project page at Public comments can also be submitted via email to Quinn Valcich, BPDA senior project manager, at [email protected].

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