Transforming Fenway in 21st Century

Last fall, the NAIOP-MA hosted a panel discussion featuring real estate developers who talked about revitalizing certain Boston neighborhoods. The panel occurred at the Seaport Hotel where 300 people attended.

One of the neighborhoods under the transformation is Fenway. Steve Samuels, the chairman of Samuels and Associates, was one of the developers at the panel. His company controls 19 properties in Fenway that host a mixture of the residence units, office spaces, restaurants, and retail. These properties include Landmark Center and Van Ness.

The plans that Samuels and Associates has is to mix old architecture with new one. They want to divide the area into ⅓ office, ⅓ residential, and ⅓ retail. This arrangement can become a reality if the real estate market allows it.

While other developers may view the Fenway constructions as too risky, Samuels sees it as a potential. He noted Fenway’s location near good neighborhoods and easy access to public transportation as some of its perks; however, Fenway is missing a core i.e. a main street. It is one of the concerns that the neighborhood residents and businesses shared with Samuels at one of the meetings.

The city officials helped addressed the “missing core” problem when it approved the zone changing. This approval makes it easier for developers to place in more sizable buildings on the existing lots. It also prompted landowners to sell their lots because the land value exceeded the building’s value and they wanted to take advantage of it. The city contributed to the construction projects when it put in new streets and infrastructure.

Another concern that Samuels shares with the residents is the Fenway Park. It may be famous for hosting the Boston Red Sox games, but it is infamous for “holding Fenway hostage”. In other words, many visitors only come to the neighborhood because of the baseball games. Samuels and his team want to change that. It would not be a surprise if they see their construction projects as a way to attract more visitors to Fenway year round for leisure activities and entertainment other than Fenway Park.

Samuel and Associates is not the only company working on the Fenway construction. A team of developers-- Meredith Management, Gerding Edlen, and TH Real Estate-- are revitalizing the Fenway Center. John Rosenthal, who is involved in the Fenway Center construction, pushed for this project for more than 15 years. After years of delay, the plan to revitalize and renovate the five-building, 1.1 million-square-feet center is now in action.

The new Fenway Center will contain 500 residential apartments and other conveniences such as daycare and easy access to commuter rail station. The official groundbreaking ceremony for this project occurred last January and the construction will be completed in two phases. The estimated deadline for Phase 1 of this construction project is set for early 2020. By then, there will be two apartment buildings with 313 units. The developers have to finalize the lease with MassDOT that same year in order to begin Phase 2 of the development. Phase 2 will include a mixed use of residential and office tower and a separate residential building. Both buildings will be located on a deck overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Fenway is one of the most exciting developments that occur in recent Boston history. When the constructions are finished all together, the Boston residents will have more choices to live, work, and play.