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Big residential development in Boston


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This project will bring a lot of life to an area that is a bit run down. It's been waiting for financing for some time. From the Boston Globe:

Harvard boosts 580-apartment project

Pact to buy units for faculty, students, staff to spur construction

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff, 11/7/2003

Construction for a proposed 580-unit apartment complex in the Fenway is expected to begin next spring after Harvard University agreed to buy some of the housing for its students and staff who work in the nearby Longwood medical area.

The Residences at Fenway, a $200 million, three-tower complex bounded by Boylston Street, Brookline Avenue, and Kilmarnock Street, won city approval early in 2002, but the project has been delayed by a lack of financing and a soft rental market.

The 650,000-square-foot project was almost sold early this year, but that fell through, and developers Steven B. Samuels and William P. McQuillan said yesterday they now have the financial backing from Harvard and an institutional investor in New York to start work.

"This means the project goes forward and the city gets the housing it's been anxious for," said Boston Redevelopment Authority director Mark Maloney. The project will begin to "transform Boylston Street into the urban village everyone's been talking about."

Harvard's commitment to buy some of the apartments not only means the project moves forward sooner but also satisfies city officials, who have asked educational institutions like Harvard to create housing for their students and employees, reducing the pressure on the rest of the residential market.

"A large portion of the people who live in the building would have been Harvard folks," said Maloney. "I think this will lessen the demand on the existing community."

Fenway Ventures, Samuels's and McQuillan's company, will develop the site and own and manage 410 of the residential units. Harvard will buy a portion of the building, owning and managing 170 apartments for the benefit of graduate students, faculty, and staff associated with the nearby medical, dental, and public health schools. No one involved in the project would say how much Harvard is spending, although a university spokeswoman said it was proportionate to the amount of housing it would own.

The project is essentially the same as when it was approved in March 2002, Samuels said, except that Harvard will now own and control one section, with its own lobby on Brookline Avenue. Ten percent of the units will be in the affordable range, as planned, and those 58 apartments will be spread throughout the buildings. The developers will also contribute to build another 29 affordable residences, or 5 percent of their total, in other parts of Boston.

The project, designed by Elkus/Manfredi Architects Ltd., will have 50,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and about 500 parking spaces on three levels in a triangle-shaped building, 10 floors of apartments on top of that, and towers at the corners reaching up 17, 15, and 12 floors.

"We've moved a step forward. We'll have a spring construction start," Samuels said. Completion is scheduled for spring 2006.

When financing to build it themselves looked bleak, Samuels and McQuillan signed an agreement to sell most of the project to Abbott Real Estate Development of Boston. Abbott controlled the property for about four months, but the market for rentals turned soft, and the parties gave up on that deal early this year.

The project has been long-awaited by Fenway residents, tired of the rundown buildings on the site and the scruffiness near Fenway Park. In addition to Harvard housing's entrance to the new building on Brookline Avenue, there will be three other lobbies: a main one on Brookline Avenue, one at Boylston and Kilmarnock, and another at Brookline and Kilmarnock.



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I would love to have an apartment in this building. It's near Longwood, Brookline, Fenway Park and the Back Bay. With these towers and the others planned for, and completed in the area the Longwood/Fenway mini skyline will be greatly expanding.

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