An ambitious redevelopment aims to add five more stories to the three adjacent Boylston Street buildings that are home to both Abe & Louie’s and Atlantic Fish while not disrupting the operation of either restaurant during construction.
The Tavistock Group, the international private investment group that owns the two restaurants, intends to build a new lobby behind the façade of 777 Boylston St. where Crate and Barrel is today that would rise up five stories and stretch over the locations of Abe & Louie’s at 793 Boylston St. on one side and Atlantic Fish at 761 Boylston St. on the other, said Dennis Quilty, an attorney for the applicant, at the first city-sponsored Impact Advisory Group (IAG) meeting for the proposed project held virtually on April 26.
The project, as proposed, includes plans for approximately 15,830 square feet of retail space; 25,720 square feet of office/fitness space; and nine residential units (three per floor) comprising approximately 18,600 square feet within the top three stories, and with proposed rooftop amenities facing both Boylston and Newbury streets. Retail uses would occupy the first and second levels of the site, with office space on the third through fifth levels.
No residential parking is included in the plan, said members of the development team, but Tavistock plans to work with Abe & Louie’s and Atlantic Fish to provide residents with a valet-parking option.
The project is being built as of right, and would only require a groundwater variance, according to members of the development team, and it would have no affordable housing requirement as it falls just short of the city’s 10-unit threshold for this requirement.
Tavistock intends to keep both Abe & Louie’s and Atlantic Fish open during and after construction, which, according to Christopher Souza, a senior director of northeast operations with the company is expected to take 16 to 20 months to complete.
David Manfredi, the architect for the project, said, “It’s an incredibly important block on Boylston Street. They are important buildings in an important context and really quite beautiful buildings.”
Manfredi said the development team had explored many alternatives for the site before settling on the current plan, and that all of the construction on the first two levels would “take place behind the façade of Crate and Barrel.”
Besides new retail opportunities at the site, a new restaurant, with outdoor seating in a similar configuration as Abe & Louie’s and Atlantic Fish, said Manfredi, could also be accommodated there.
Terracotta and glass would be used for the exterior of the addition above Abe & Louie’s, he added, although several IAG members expressed concern with the glass-to-opaque ratio for the project.
IAG member Charles Schuerhoff called the ratio “very unique” and “out of place” for the location and questioned the development team’s claim that its glass-to-opaque ratio was 40 percent, countering that with the “Stretch Code,” it would be closer to 40 percent.
“You’re renewable energy calculation are way off,” he added. “And now with changing codes locally and nationally, you could become a prime candidate for retro-fitting.”
Meanwhile, IAG member Meg Mainzer-Cohen, who serves as president and executive director of the Back Bay Association, said the proposal had been “extremely well received by our organization.”
“It’s one of the most ambitious projects I’ve seen,” she said, “and really maintains the [existing] uses while creating a really vibrant upper few stories.”
The Boston Planning and Development Agency will hold a virtual meeting on the proposed development plan on Monday, May 3, from 6 to 8 p.m. (register in advance at bit.ly/3su05NT), and is accepting public comments on the proposal until May 14 online at http://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/761-793-boylston-street or directly to Michael Sinatra, BPDA project manager, via email at [email protected].