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Fenway plan adds retail, offices, and housing

Target store might anchor new building BRA to consider $250m proposal

A plan for the Fenway neighborhood includes a brick and glass structure. Developer Steve Samuels envisions a mixed-use building. A plan for the Fenway neighborhood includes a brick and glass structure. Developer Steve Samuels envisions a mixed-use building.
By Casey Ross
Globe Staff / September 15, 2011

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The proposed building, with one tier framed in brick and another covered in glass, seems to reflect the Fenway neighborhood’s folksy past and its modernist present.

It is developer Steve Samuels’ latest effort to revitalize a scrubby section of Boylston Street near Fenway Park by adding a mix of residences, offices, and retail options, including what would be that area’s first Target department store.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority tonight will decide whether to approve the $250 million project, which would include 225,000 square feet of office space, 150 residences, an underground parking garage, and about 165,000 square feet for stores. Samuels wants to start construction in the spring of 2012.

“This development will bring ground-floor retail activity and plenty of new shops and restaurants,’’ said Peter Sougarides, executive vice president of development for Samuels & Associates. “It will also bring a retail anchor that has been missing from this corridor.’’

Sougarides said the firm is in final discussions with Target about opening a store on two floors of the multitiered building, which would have offices in an 11-story brick section and residences in a 13-story glass part of the structure. The residences would probably be apartments. The stores would be at street level and on the lower floors of the building, which is designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects.

A spokeswoman for Target confirmed the company is working with city officials to open a new store in Boston but would not specify the location.

If approved, the project, near the corner of Van Ness and Boylston streets, will replace a parking garage, a car wash, and a former Goodyear service store. The new building would include a rooftop garden above the lower midsection that would link the residential side of the building with the offices.

The BRA tonight will take up a zoning change that would give Samuels more flexibility to meet requirements for affordable housing and other community benefits. Authority officials said Samuels wants to make 7.5 percent of the units affordable, below the minimum of 10 percent. But they said he is considering providing funds for affordable units to be built elsewhere, or building additional community space, such as a senior center.

The project would be Samuels’ third major redevelopment in the area during the past decade. He also developed residences and shops at 1330 Boylston St. and a bigger complex called Trilogy, with hundreds of apartments, stores and restaurants. He recently purchased the Landmark Center retail and office complex, and is considering an expansion on that property.

Samuels has been meeting with residents and city officials for months to pave the way for the project at Van Ness and Boylston. He is also seeking approval tonight for a second 17-story residential building that would be built later at 132 Brookline Ave. Sougarides said the firm has not set a start date for construction of that building, which would cost about $65 million.

BRA officials have encouraged redevelopment in the area, approving zoning changes to allow for greater density that would support construction of large buildings with stores, residences, and offices.

Until recent years, the area has struggled to attract redevelopment to replace its tired mix of gas stations and fast-food restaurants. But Samuels and others have begun to attract new retail stores such as Guitar Center and the upscale furniture shop West Elm, along with several new restaurants. It is among the few areas of the city that have continued to attract development activity despite the recent economic downturn.

The Target would be the retailer’s first in a dense section of the city with limited parking. Sougarides said the firm expects the store will draw customers from area residences, limiting the need for on-site parking.

City officials are working with Samuels on an array of long-planned transportation improvements in the area, including reconstruction of Boylston Street, new pedestrian crossings, and other improvements. City and state officials have set aside $55 million for the improvements, but have yet to begin building.

Samuels plans to install sidewalks and trees to help lay the groundwork for those upgrades and will build a new road through his development site between Boylston and Van Ness streets.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.


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