The proposed hotel at 1241 Boylston St. close to the Boston Arts Academy has at least two Impact Advisory Group (IAG) members furious.
The proposed hotel would be built on a 21,050 square-foot parcel where a Shell gas station currently sits. According to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BDPA), the hotel is proposed to be 105,000 square feet with approximately 184 rooms and around 4,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space. The hotel would be eight stories and around 90 feet tall with approximately 82 below-grade parking spaces.
The BPDA states that IAG meetings were held on January 18, 2018, February 5, 2018, March 27, 2018, May 31, 2018, and January 31, 2019, and the proposed project was approved by the Boston Civic Design Commission on February 5, 2019.
IAG member Lauren Dewey Platt, who has lived in the Fenway for 25 years, told the Sun that she has “serious concerns” about the precedent that this hotel would set should it be allowed to be built “given that in its present form it violates a code that disallows the building of a structure closer than 20 feet from the Back Bay Fens.” She is also upset with the process that this building must go through to get approved. She is in the process of writing a letter to Tim Czerwienski of the BPDA with her concerns outlined, and is working on getting more signatures before she submits it.
She said that the Boston municipal code states that no building shall be placed within 20 feet of the Back Bay Fens, but she said this hotel would only be set back 13 feet from the property line of the Fens.
“The parks commission has not made its ruling yet,” she said. “After the Article 80 review process is completed, this goes to the parks commission for a ruling.”
Dewey Platt explains why she believes this could be precedent-setting: “If one allows one to build a structure and it doesn’t meet the code, it sets precedent for this to happen again,” she said. “I just don’t want to see anyone set a precedent where they’re not meeting the requirement.”
She said she has brought this issue up multiple times at meetings and in comments, but the response has been that the Parks Department has not yet made its ruling.
“They love to divide and conquer,” Dewey Platt said. “The rest of us are just stuck having to wait until they pass the buck to the next agency or person. This is how the BPDA operates.”
Dewey Platt believes that developers should be given a template that meets the municipal code in which they can build their development.
“I’ve been on a lot of stuff before and this is a giant frustration,” she said. “I’ve been involved with this for so long—one development after another, the same issues come up all the time.
“We need to preserve our green space,” Dewey Platt continued. “It just seems wrong and I’m just not sure why this is set up this way.”
On February 14, The BPDA Board authorized the advertising of a public hearing to consider the proposed project as a Direct Impact Project for March 14 “or a time and date to be determined by the director.”