Back Bay Residents Enlist Local Businesses in Campaign to Stop Private Club Development

A grassroots movement of Back Bay residents is calling on local businesses to join the growing campaign against a plan to convert 29 Commonwealth Ave. into an 11-story, private club, including a restaurant, bar and lodging.

A total of 64 residents have signed a letter to the businesses, citing the significant negative impacts of the plan, especially additional traffic congestion and excess demand on an already overburdened supply of parking spaces. The proposed 356-seat restaurant/lounge at Haddon Hall, at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Berkeley Street, would compete directly with local establishments, drawing patrons away from the nearby commercial areas and into the predominantly residential area, the letter said. The exacerbated traffic and parking problems would also create a major disincentive for many potential diners or shoppers, who may decide to avoid the area.

“In short, the development of Haddon Hall would result in no spinoff of economic benefits, and would in fact be detrimental to local businesses,” the letter said.

The residents asked the businesses to contact the city’s Zoning Board of Appeal to register their opposition, adding to more than 500 such letters that have already been sent to the board. The residents also noted that they patronize local businesses and like their owners and operators, have a stake in the community and the future of the Back Bay.

“We hope you will join us in opposing this development and preserving what makes the Back Bay a special place, both to live and to do business,” they said.

Mary Lou LeSaffre, co-founder of Preserve the Back Bay, the group of concerned neighbors who are spreading the word about the Haddon Hall proposal, said she was overwhelmed and very encouraged by the tremendous response to the call for neighbors to sign on.

“This is just the latest sign of a growing grassroots campaign of neighbors who are determined to protect the character that makes the Back Bay special,” LeSaffre said. The development at 29 Comm. Ave. would negatively impact the neighborhood and damage that character irreparably.”

The ZBA will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 11 a.m. at City Hall.

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