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Winds of change for One Kenmore

After 10 years, latest plan emphasizes office space

(Globe Staff / Pat Greenhouse)
Email|Print| Text size + By Thomas C. Palmer Jr.
Globe Staff / January 17, 2008

After more than a decade of planning and major changes in size, use, and even location, the developer of the One Kenmore project near Fenway Park yesterday again filed plans with the city - this time reducing the number of residential units and adding a substantial amount of office space.

John Rosenthal, whose previous plans for a mixed-use development over the Turnpike between Kenmore Square and the ballpark emphasized residential use, with more than 600 condos or apartments, is bowing to the current market winds that are strong for commercial development but weak for housing.

He told the city he now wants to build almost 340,000 square feet of office space plus 100,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants - and only 282 residences. The housing is currently designed as rental apartments, but some of that could be converted to condominiums if the market rebounds, Rosenthal said.

The expected project cost is about $450 million.

Rosenthal's development has been in the works almost as long as the drawn-out Columbus Center, an other Turnpike air-rights project, which received its designation for four parcels above the highway east of Clarendon Street 11 years ago - but just started construction late last year.

One Kenmore evolved from an idea of a hotel and entertainment complex 10 years ago, to a $300 million complex with 29- and 23-story residential towers in 2003, to a more modest proposal that in recent iterations has been well-received by the community and embraced by the powerful Red Sox organization.

The Red Sox are a minority partner in One Kenmore. The New York Times Co., owner of the Globe, owns 17 percent of the company that owns the team.

In 2005, One Kenmore was relocated, from east of the Brookline Avenue bridge over the Turnpike to just west of it. With the Red Sox as partners, it will now be located along Beacon Street over the MBTA's Yawkey Commuter Rail station, on land and air space previously designated for team owners' use. "It is literally above and surrounding a regional commuter rail station," Rosenthal said yesterday, "reusing ugly surface parking lots." He said $12.5 million has been OK'd by the state for station improvements, work that could be done simultaneously by his contractor, Bovis/Lend Lease LMB Inc.

Rosenthal said his latest configuration represents a "dramatic site plan change," with the tower that is closest to low-rise Audubon Circle area reduced to seven floors. He also now intends to build towers of 22 and 10 floors. Months ago, Rosenthal had proposed towers of 20 and 17 floors; before that, his 2003 proposal for the location closer to Kenmore Square was for towers of 29 and 23 floors and five smaller buildings.

The One Kenmore plans, which must undergo Boston Redevelopment Authority scrutiny over the next year or so prior to construction, call for less total square footage than in previous proposals. In the current plan, One Kenmore would have almost 1.3 million square feet - but more than 500,000 of that would be for parking. The plan includes two garages, with a total of 1,360 parking spaces. About 660 of those would be for use by One Kenmore residents, tenants, and visitors. A public garage with about 700 spaces would serve the surrounding community, including workers in the nearby Longwood Medical Area.

Rosenthal said medical community workers and local business patrons would use the public spaces during the day; at night, Sox fans and residents would use them. One Kenmore is slated for 3 1/2 acres, about half of it over the Turnpike and half on land near Maitland Street.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.

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