Stanhope Street Hotel Proposal Draws Concern From Residents of the Clarendon

Residents of The Clarendon condominium building in the Back Bay sounded the alarm regarding the expected impact from the adjacent, proposed Stanhope Street hotel during a city-sponsored meeting on the project held virtually on Thursday, June 7.

​“This is going to be  really close, much closer than we would have hoped,” said Douglas Kant, a resident of The Clarendon at 400 Stuart St., which would apparently be located just 30 feet away from the rear side of the proposed hotel, during the joint Impact Advisory Group (IAG) and public meeting on the project sponsored by the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

​The developer, Stanhope Hotel Holdings, LLC, which comprises affiliates of H.N. Gorin Inc., the Boston family-owned real estate company that has owned the project site for between 30 and 40 years, and Masterworks Development Co., LLC, which developed the Club Quarters hotel group, has proposed a 21-story, 300-room mid-level hotel for 39 Stanhope St. (The project won’t include the adjacent building at 35 Stanhope St., which is home to The Friendly Toast restaurant, however.)

While the developer had originally intended to build an entirely new building, the as-of-right project will now preserve the façade of the historical, two-story brick building at that address, which was originally built as a horse stable in 1868 and was last home to the now-shuttered Red Lantern restaurant, said Don Wiest, the applicant’s attorney.

The latest iteration of the project includes a recessed, largely glass “blank space” atop the stable building but below the new floors above it, which would visually signify the transition between the new and old elements of the building, said  Harry Wheeler, a principal with South Boston-based Group One Architects.

A “vertical notch” has been added to the party wall on the previously flat side façade of the building to “create a corduroy effect,” added Wheeler.

Further refinement to the project since it was first presented at a public meeting sponsored virtually by the BPDA on May 5 of last year includes increasing the building’s height from 255 feet to 270 feet (with an additional 15 feet of mechanicals above that), said Wiest – a proposed change that was the cause of additional concern regarding potential loss of light and privacy among residents of The Clarendon.

One Clarendon resident, Iain Webb said the back of the new hotel would essentially be a “wall of glass,” with its hotel rooms looking directly into his building’s units, and subsequently force condo residents to keep their shades drawn around the clock.

Michael Rosenzweig, another Clarendon resident, said that he expects that the additional trash and traffic generated by the hotel would make conditions in his building “unlivable,” especially since three parking spaces that the project would create for loading and unloading will be located just outside the entrance to his building’s garage. (The proposed hotel itself includes no plans for on-site parking accommodations, according to the project team.)

Likewise, Bill Beckman, also a resident of The Clarendon, said the new hotel would adversely affect half of his building’s more than 100 units, likely resulting in decreased property values. “This is not reasonable and fair,” said Beckman, who urged the city to “pause” the project to re-examine height limits for the new hotel.

IAG member Karen Reeves pointed out that the new hotel would permanently impede views of The Clarendon building, which was designed by internationally award-winning architect Robert A.M. Stern, from the Massachusetts Turnpike, among other vantage points.

​Jonathan Hyatt, a resident of the Albert A. Pope condominium building at 221 Columbus Ave., which sits kitty-corner to the project site, said he and all of the other residents of his building whom he has spoken with are strongly opposed to the project. “It looks like a terrible place to have a hotel,” he said.

​In contrast, IAG member Meg Mainzer-Cohen said, “It’s amazing how far this project has come from the original design. I think that it works really well with the neighborhood.”

​Mainzer-Cohen said she was particularly impressed with how the project would “integrate” and “bleeds into” the adjacent Frieda Garcia Park as part of the design. She also lauded the developer’s commitment to assist the city in plans to “pedestrianize” Stanhope Street by closing it all but emergency vehicles.

​“I think this is really quite an achievement and a great location for a hotel,” she said.

​Regarding the proposed pedestrianization of Stanhope Street, Wiest said this work  is “not remotely necessary for our project” but added that it’s “a process we’re happy to be a part of and to support.”

Quinn Valcich, BPDA project manager, said the BPDA and Boston Transportation Department intend to “pedestrianize Stanhope Street regardless of whether the hotel happens at all.” He added that the city had asked the developer to partner with them on changes already planned for Stanhope Street, which will remain city owned and publicly accessible.

​The public comment period for the project is open through June 23. To comment on the project, visit the BPDA’s project page ( or email comments directly to Quinn Valcich of the BPDA at [email protected].

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