Saturday, 2:15 PM
City panel approves Suffolk University's demolition plans
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
Boston's Landmarks Commission has approved the demolition of the former Massachusetts District Commission headquarters on Beacon Hill, a key advance for Suffolk University's plans to build a $68 million academic building and art school at the Somerset Street property.
The commission last night unanimously gave Suffolk the go-ahead to knock down the 76-year-old brick building, which has fallen into disrepair and has been unoccupied for several years. Suffolk agreed to commemorate the commission's history and achievements at the new building and an adjacent plaza.
"This is an extremely important step for this project," said John Nucci, Suffolk's vice president for external affairs.
Suffolk still needs permission from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to demolish the MDC building, and needs the city's approval to build the new 10-story facility, which neighbors and city officials are now reviewing.
The building, a key feature of the university's expansion campaign, would house classrooms and the university's art school, including a first-floor art gallery. Plans call for a glass-dominated structure that would overlook a revamped public plaza.
This summer, city officials approved Suffolk's expansion plans after a June agreement between university officials and the chief Beacon Hill neighborhood group that included tight restrictions on future development.
In opposing Suffolk's previous plans to build a high-rise dormitory at the site, residents had urged the landmarks commission to preserve the MDC building because of its historical significance. But neighbors back the proposed academic and art building, saying it would enliven a drab street.
The university hopes to complete the building in 2011. Later this fall, it expects to begin construction on 200-student dormitory and studio theater on the site of the historic Modern Theatre on Washington Street.
This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.