The public got its first look at a proposed 2.1 million square-foot project that would transform the blocks around Fenway Park into new office and residential space during the city-sponsored kick-off meeting held virtually on June 24.
WS-Fenway-Twins Realty Venture LLC – a partnership made up of the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox; the D’Angelo family, who own the 47 sports apparel and memorabilia company; and Newton-based WS Development, which led the transformative redevelopment effort in the Seaport, intend to redevelop 13 parcels it owns near Fenway Park, collectively totaling approximately 5.32 acres, into eight new buildings on four major along Jersey Street, Brookline Avenue, Van Ness Street, and behind the park’s left field “Green Monster” on Lansdowne Street, respectively. The proposed project would comprise approximately 1.7 million square feet of new office space and around 215-plus residential units, as well as new retail and restaurant space.
“This is more than just single-build project, and more than a collection of buildings – this is aspiration for the Fenway neighborhood,” said Yanni Tsipis, senior vice president of WS Development, who described the block of Jersey Street across from Fenway Park where the D’Angelo family’s Souvenir Shop is located as “the beating heart…and heart and soul of the whole project.”
Jersey Street would be re-envisioned to put pedestrians first by removing vehicular traffic (expect for emergency vehicles) from it, said Tsipis, and a public amphitheater would also be created adjacent to the ballpark, which he described as a “place of respite” and a “really wonderful gathering space.”
Once the project is completed, Jersey Street would also be home to an expanded Souvenir Shop, he said, “along with other retail sprinkled along the frontage.”
Arthur’s Alley, located behind the Richardson Building at the corner of Brookline Avenue and Jersey Street, would be transformed into something resembling a mini pedestrian mall, said Tsipis, with small retail spots spilling into alley. The Richardson Building would also be restored, with a rooftop addition, he added.
At the other project sites, the building on Lansdowne Street is expected to reach seven stories, or around 100-105 feet, at its highest point, said Tsipis, he said, while an existing parking lot on Van Street would make way for a new building, as well as for street improvements.
A new roadway would also extend Richard B. Ross Way through site to connect Boylston Street to Brookline Avenue to Beacon Street, said Tsipis, via a two-way vehicular and bike connection designed to take vehicular traffic off Jersey Street.
Additionally, the project proposes reconstructing the Brookline Avenue corridor “to stitch to Kenmore Square and the Sears building and beyond,” he said, as well as transforming Brookline Avenue from the I-90 overpass to Kilmarnock Street into a modernized roadway with bike lanes. Additional improvements are planned for Van Ness and Lansdowne streets, as well as for David Ortiz Drive, he said.
The project proposes creating a community bike hub on Richard B. Ross Way as part of its $20 million in public realm and community infrastructure improvements with an emphasis on pedestrian and bike access, said Tsipis, and will also create four acres of new public realm space within the five-acres development site.
Tsipis also said the developer would work with the Fenway CDC to identify redevelopment opportunities in the Fenway in an effort to make sure linkage funds for the project stay in the neighborhood.
Regarding parking provisions, 800 existing surface and garage spaces would be eliminated, said Tsipis, while a net 1,000 spaces would be created per Boston Transportation Department guidelines. Some existing metered parking spots on the project site would also be replaced by bike lanes, he added.
Marie Fukuda, a Fenway Civic Association board member and a longtime neighborhood resident, expressed her concern that the city permitted the applicant to file a routine Project Notification Form, with public comments due in several weeks, as opposed to filing an Institutional Master Plan, for such a large-scale project.
Fukuda was also among those who said the project’s designation as the “Fenway Development Project” would likely lead to confusion among other development in the neighborhood. In response, Tsipis committed to a name change for the project.
The Boston Planning and Development Agency will be hosting upcoming public meetings on the project virtually on July 13 and 19, respectively, while the public comment period for it ends July 23.
Visit http://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/fenway-project to learn more about the project, or to submit comments.