Say Goodbye to the Whales Off of Route 93

A new development will soon block the whale mural that has long been visible from I-93.
A new development will soon block the whale mural that has long been visible from I-93. – photo

If you’re coming up 93 North into Boston, they make for a splashy welcome to the city. And if you’re headed south, they offer a sort of see-you-later. But soon, you won’t be able to see the two whales that adorn a large storage building from the highway at all.

The iconic whales are the stars of a massive mural painted on the Planet Self Storage building just off Exit 18 in the South End. However, a new development will block the mural from the view of commuters very soon.

Construction on a residential building is well underway, and the frame of the building has already begun to interfere with the mural. New Jersey-based developer Normandy Realty is developing two side-by-side residential buildings in the South End as part of its Troy Boston development, which will also include about 6,000 square feet of retail space. The development is located next to the fledgling Ink Block development.


Normandy could not be reached for comment, but I’m curious to know if they’d be at all open to public art on the new building.

A couple years back, Boston Business Journal managing editor Jon Chesto reported the development—at the time a planned hotel—would interfere with the mural while he was working with the Patriot Ledger. (In the interest of full disclosure, so was I.) He spoke at the time to the man at the helm of the group that owns the storage building, Bryce Grefe.

Grefe didn’t seem too torn up about it, but did say he was hopeful the group would take the mural into account while developing. He said he didn’t expect it to have much of an effect on business—most of the store’s business came from neighbors by foot, he said, though some people mistake the building for the aquarium. However, Grefe told Chesto the mural has helped make the building and the company identifiable to just about everybody he’s met in Boston.

Grefe did not respond to a request for further comment before this article was published.

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