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Would you live next door to Fenway Park?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis  September 4, 2009 09:35 AM

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If you dream of living in a condo or apartment within a block or two of America’s oldest and arguably most colorful ballpark, you just may be in luck.

Since taking over the Sox in early 2002, Sox owners John Henry and Thomas Werner have pumped tens of millions into the renovation of Fenway Park. The owners have also spiffed up the streets around Fenway as well, buying up nearby property and turning Yawkey Way into an open air concourse.

The team’s decision to renovate Fenway instead of tearing it down and building elsewhere has helped unleash a wave of new development, much of it residential, around the antique ballpark.

Developer Steve Samuels has built two residential high-rises just a few blocks from the ballpark, adding close to 800 apartments to the neighborhood. John Rosenthal, the anti-gun crusader and developer, is pushing ahead with his own plans to deck over the nearby Turnpike with a massive housing and retail project of his own.

And more new development, particularly residential, is likely on its way. Samuels continues to buy up property in the neighborhood, including a Mobil Station across from the ballpark.

The Sage family, owners of the Howard Johnson hotel next to the ballpark, have been talking for years about plans for some sort of upscale condo, hotel complex.

It’s a trend that I covered extensively for a couple Boston newspapers and which, frankly, I was somewhat skeptical of first.

Fenway may be Fenway, but it’s still a stadium, with tens of thousands of fans spilling out onto the street late in the evening on a regular basis from April on into the fall. Not to mention streets jam packed with traffic and the occasional urban riot when the home team makes good.

After all, some of the biggest foes of new office towers or retail projects are residential neighbors complaining about such relatively mundane issues as increased rush hour traffic.

But there appears to be a certain mystique to Fenway and maybe to downtown stadiums as a whole.

And developers like Samuels are clearly finding the tenants to rent their new high-rise apartments – they just keep building.

Still, not being a huge baseball fan myself – sorry Sox – it’s an attraction I have a hard time fathoming.

How about you?


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20 comments so far...
  1. I did, for many, many years. Or at least close enough to hear when there was a home run. And close enough to warn visitors that there'd be no parking if the Sox were in town. The neighborhood has a lot going for it. It's extremely convenient and lively. I'm sure if they build it, they will come.

    Posted by Susan September 4, 09 09:55 AM
  1. I used to rent with my (now) husband on Peterborough Street , which is one block behind Boylston Street. We were in our twenties, with no kids and no commitments and it was a fabulous area to live in. I will admit that parking was tough in general, particularly on game day, but it was a great neighborhood, and so easy to just walk in to Copley. I can't say the Red Sox were the huge attraction for us, but there was a definite vibe that appealed to us in that period of our lives.

    Posted by mspitzer September 4, 09 10:48 AM
  1. I thought those condos were having trouble selling - anyone know?

    The idea of any sort of residential condo development in the near future is just a bad joke. Have you seen what's happening in the CMBS market? People can't roll over existing financing, let alone get new financing. Notice the big hole where Filenes was?

    Posted by charles September 4, 09 10:50 AM
  1. My first reaction is general - great, just what we need, more high-end luxury condo buildings.Unless they include a smattering of 500 square foot units for $350k they can call 'affordable" housing.

    I've never been a huge fan of the Kenmore and Fenway park environs (most of the rats I've seen in my life occurred there), though there are some neighborhoods very near by that are nice. I've done my share of fantasizing about being able to get a condo in the city and house in the good-school/low-crime burbs. I wouldn't consider the Fenway park area, and wouldn't, even with new upscale construction and the presumably upscale restaurants that might spring up in train. Too risky in light of the issues you mention (foot and auto congestion) - it's an open question whether the uber-gentrification veneer would stick. Even with the possibility of being able to say I live in a building with a Red Sox player.

    Posted by stive September 4, 09 11:35 AM
  1. Personally, I would have a hard time choosing a place to live soley based on its close proximity to Fenway Park. However, Kenmore Square and other development that has come up in the past couple of years has really made this area of town a fun & happening place to be. You have great restaurants such as Burton's Grille & Eastern Standard amongst the dozens of other sports bars & cafes so you really have a lot of variety and options to choose from. With a Shaw's in the area and a movie theater, it really is one of the rare areas of downtown Boston where you have access to so much right at your fingertips.

    Posted by Erica Farthing September 4, 09 12:26 PM
  1. Living next to Fenway gives you that right most coveted by Fenway neighbors: complaining about Fenway! Who'd want to miss out on that??

    Posted by James September 4, 09 12:33 PM
  1. I think you could make an alternative argument that the residential is being built despite the ball park next door.

    Trilogy was built for hospital staff and university students. 1330 Boylston, as well, to a certain extent. The Fenway Institute next door isn't for Red Sox fans, after all.

    The Fenway Center will be office and residential with parking for use by those in the medical area during the day. In fact, I think they are proposing limits on the parking so as to not encourage more people to drive to Fenway (Park).

    I don't drive. I'd be satisfied living near the Park because I can walk everywhere. If I had to drive through there every day, I'd shoot myself. Or, more likely, another driver.

    Posted by John A Keith September 4, 09 01:14 PM
  1. I kid people that when I get older, I want to live in Samuel's building -- the Sox down the street, the movie theatre and supermarket on either side of me, Harvard Vanguard Health Care across the street and Beth Israel a couple of blocks a way! Just need a Chinese restaurant that's a little closer. Oh, and close down Ace Tickets!

    Posted by Cageylefty September 4, 09 06:13 PM
  1. I would not want to live there. I'm reasonably sure, though, that someone will move in and immediately start complaining about the traffic, noise and smell. Then they will sue.

    Posted by K September 4, 09 09:53 PM
  1. If they want the units to sell, they'll really need private parking for the residents. I agree with cageylefty-awesome place for the AARP crowd.

    Posted by eastiegirl September 5, 09 04:37 AM
  1. My husband and I rented an apartment on Park Drive years ago and we loved it!! Not only were we within walking distance of Fenway, the neighborhood around Peterborough and Kilmarnock Streets had some nice restaurants and other retail shops. There was also a bus stop in the neighborhood (#55) that ran to/from Copley T stop making it really easy to get to work. The apartment was walking distance to the Museum of Fine Arts, just across the Fens and it had free admission Wed nights after 6:00. We could also--and frequently did--walk to the Prudential Center and Newbury Street. The old Sears building has been cleaned up too and has shopping, plus the green line stop there is much improved to get to Brookline and Newton. It was a great place to live!! If it hadn't been for the obnoxious college student living above us and having kids, we'd probably still live there.

    Posted by Alex1943 September 5, 09 08:23 AM
  1. I lived there from 1999-2004 and LOVED it. I didnt have a car, was right out of college, and could hear the games from my bedroom window in the summer. It brings back memories and I thought the fenway noise and the people added to the charm of the neighborhood. I remember the intonation of the previous fenway announcer's voice.... "Nomar Garrrr-seee-aaaaa-parrrrr-ahhhh" and also hearing Bruce springsteen's encores in 2003

    As I walk down boylston street today it looks like nothing what it did in the late 90's. Then, you could have mistaken it for any main drag in Anytown, USA... fast food joint, tire shop, gas station, etc.

    It always baffled me when fenway community groups would get all up in arms about the noise... why do you live there if that bothers you??

    One of my favorite things to do was to answer tourists favorite question: "Where is the parking garage for fenway?" I'd just laugh and tell them good luck. I usually would tell them to park in the visitor permit spaces on the street (if you could find one), the ticket was $35 or $40 from what I remmeber - but the alternative was to pay $30 to cram your car in with blocking at the parking lots in the area. What would you choose? :)


    Posted by Go sox September 5, 09 10:19 AM
  1. I lived at the corner of Park Drive and Queensberry for 2 years in my early twenties and loved it. I didn't have a car, so the variety of shops and restaurants nearby was great, and the walkability to downtown was convenient too. At the time, the prices for a really nice apartment were quite reasonable, so I enjoyed living somewhere with a skyline view and a park next door.

    By the end of my time there, it wasn't the sox that I found most irritating actually, it was the sirens from the fire and ambulance that would scream past my window so often in the middle of the night. At least sox fans were generally enthusiastic and happy. Can't fault that too much.

    Posted by CS September 5, 09 12:11 PM
  1. I used to live on Peterborough St, on the back end of the building by the alley behind McDonalds. For a basement apartment the rent was ridiculous, but I loved it. I didn't have a car so parking wasn't an issue, and the neighborhood was great - as we used to say, that alley was "simply the best." : )

    Posted by DuhChief September 5, 09 12:38 PM
  1. i would live in a tent at on the field at fenway park,why pay the luxury condo fees?

    Posted by anthony pisani September 5, 09 01:48 PM
  1. I lived on Queensberry in the 70's - my daughter lived there 30 years later. Fenway is still a bit gritty but for some reason it grows on you. Game day memories - loudspeakers sound like they are in your apartment - shutting windows did not help much...loud drunken fans urinating all over the place...hopelessly bad traffic...and yes, there are some rats...but the convenience, access to beautiful areas to walk,museums, restaurants, and reasonable rents (for Boston), incredible diversity of your neighbors...I miss it every day.

    Posted by kathy b September 6, 09 11:13 AM
  1. I've lived near Fenway Park for many years and can see the scoreboard from my kitchen window. Parking and traffic are issues here, but you do learn to work around the problems. I love the Fenway/ Audubon Circle area and am so glad that all the attributes I've enjoyed for so long are now being appreciated by newcomers. Also, as a long-time community activist, I have been very pleased at the current Red Sox owners' attention and responsiveness to local residents. The previous owners didn't even answer the phone --- really. By the way, the units at both Trilogy and 1330 Boylston are all rentals, not condos.

    Posted by audubongirl September 7, 09 01:10 AM
  1. It's amazing how the neighborhoods around Fenway can actually be so quiet during a game. Yeah, there's a lot of hustle and bustle going on at the Park, but it seems that once you step across Boylston to Peterborough and Queensberry, it's quite lovely!

    Great location (easy walk to Newbury, etc as others have pointed out), still reasonable home prices, the parks, the museums, etc. The area is wonderful and its so nice to see it blossom!

    Posted by Andel September 8, 09 07:38 AM
  1. Over 35,000 people live in the Fenway neighborhood. I've been here for over 20 years. The question is why would anyone want to live anywhere else. The Red Sox are a mid size business in this neighborhood. They bring a different but not exceptional set of issues for their neighbors to deal with.
    Recently, nearly a billion dollars a year has been spent in the Fenway neighborhood on new construction. The Red Sox and their affiliates represent less than 5% of that. With all of that going on don't you think that myself and my neighbors should be looking and commenting on what is being built? We have a huge stake in where we live. I want an inclusive, transit oriented community. So, Yes, move here and enjoy all that this community has to offer.

    Posted by Marc September 8, 09 11:01 AM
  1. I think one commenter got it right: whatever development is happening in the area is despite Fenway Park, not because of it. The open lots and low-end uses in the immediate vicinity were there for so many years because alternative uses were untenable. But because of these open lots and low-end uses, the area offered development opportunities no longer available downtown, but that is still pretty darn close, as well as close to transportation and to the local restaurants, stores and businesses that residents in the Fenway and Audubon Circle neighborhoods have worked hard to foster and support. The developers are merely muscling into an area that Fenway Park made desolate, and -- if not tipping the balance -- are at least adding weight to the residential component of the area. The new residents will learn to love the place like the old-timers, and will learn to hate the traffic, noise and disruption caused by Red Sox fans on game days.

    Posted by D Blanchon September 10, 09 08:12 PM
 
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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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