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The plans to redevelop the low-slung buildings and streets around Fenway Park are coming into much clearer focus.
And suffice it to say, the walk through Jersey Street is going to look remarkably different — and maybe more consistently busy.
Last week, the Boston Red Sox and their business partners filed more than 1,000 pages with city officials on their plans to replace several parking lots and souvenir shops on Fenway-adjacent streets with towers looking over the park, glassy facades, and a pedestrian mall — all while retaining aspects of the area’s “grit.”
In their 1,054-page notification form to the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the Red Sox’ owners, Fenway Sports Group, as well as the real estate firm WS Development, wrote that, in total, the project would transform four “underutilized” lots into 2.1 million square feet of office, lab, residential, and retail space.
While some neighborhoods around ballparks elsewhere in the country have become “sports theme parks,” the group says they aim do the “opposite.”
“The Project should feel like the neighborhood is enveloping the ballpark, and not that the ballpark is spreading its influence into the neighborhood,” they wrote in their proposal to the BPDA.
Here’s what to know about the plans:
Frankly, all the construction plans around the 109-year-old ballpark are becoming difficult to distinguish from each other.
There are the plans to build a 350-foot-tall biotech complex above the Mass. Turnpike on the west side of Brookline Avenue. There’s the Fenway Theater project being built on the corner of Lansdowne. There’s the apartment buildings going up behind the park on Boylston Street.
This project, however, is separate.
Last fall, the Red Sox announced their preliminary plans to redevelop four lots — much of which they own — on Jersey Street, Brookline Avenue, Van Ness Street, and Lansdowne Street. The Brookline, Lansdowne, and Van Ness lots are currently used for parking, while the Jersey Street block hosts a number of small businesses, including the Red Sox Team Store and warehouse, which is owned by ’47 Brand and will continue to have a presence on the street within the redevelopment plans.
The proposal also includes “Parcel 8,” which is the air rights over the part of the Mass. Pike behind Lansdowne Street and the Green Monster. While no development is currently being proposed there, the Red Sox say their proposal will be able to integrate future construction on Parcel 8, including a potential new pedestrian connection between Kenmore Square and the Fenway Park area.
“What today is a ‘back door’ to Fenway Park may in the future become more of a gateway,” the proposal notes.
The Red Sox and their partners are proposing a total of eight new buildings, which they will say will take between five and seven years to construct. Though the phasing of each development hasn’t been set, the group is aiming to begin construction in 2022.
On the Brookline Avenue parcel, there would be a 22-story, 300-foot-tall building that would slightly hang over the sidewalk atop a four-floor podium, in order to create more pedestrian space. While the first floor would host shops or restaurants, the rest of the building would be devoted to office space.
Across the street, the plans call for preserving the historic two-floor façade of the Red Sox Team Store building on the corner Brookline Avenue and Jersey Street, while building seven floors of office space above it. The Jersey Street block would also get three other buildings ranging between 14 and 19 floors with a mix of retail, commercial, and residential space.
And on Lansdowne Street, the two-floor parking garage next to the Cask ‘n Flagon would be demolished and replaced by a seven-floor office building with two stories for stores and restaurants and underground parking. According to the proposal, the building will include several upper-floor setbacks to “minimize” its visual presence behind the Green Monster (project renderings do, however, note that the 22-story Brookline Avenue building would occasionally cast shadows across the field in the afternoon).
In total, the project would create 216 mostly one-bedroom units of housing, though the vast majority of space would be for offices and research labs.
The Red Sox and their partners say the new spaces would “create activity and energy on a year-round basis,” rather than just during baseball season.
With all the new business and residential space, the Red Sox and their partners acknowledge that the project would contribute to increased traffic — both cars and pedestrians — around Fenway Park, an area that can already be a hassle to get through on game days.
However, they’re proposing a number of street-level improvements in companion with the development.
First, the project would make Jersey Street (formally known as Yawkey Way) into a permanent pedestrian-only corridor between Van Ness Street and Brookline Avenue with over 30,000 square feet of open space. The year-round pedestrian mall would also include a set of public, amphitheater-style stairs facing the Red Sox’ World Series banners outside Fenway — dubbed the “Jersey Street Stoop” — which the proponents think will “become a popular spot” for local residents and visitors.
Currently occupied by a number of seasonal vendors, the plans envision more all-year businesses on Jersey Street, including an expanded version of the D’Angelo family-owned souvenir store.
“This iconic Jersey Street shop will be complemented by new active uses such as retail and service uses that will remain open year-round, and transform Jersey Street into a neighborhood amenity,” the proposal says.
The plans also call for extending Richard Ross Way to create a new two-way street for cars and bikes parallel to Jersey Street between Van Ness Street and Brookline Avenue. Brookline Avenue would get new bike lanes as well.
Additionally, Arthur’s Way, the narrow service driveway and pedestrian shortcut behind with Bullpen Kitchen and Tap bar, would be converted into “a lively and intimate Alley-Scape” with shops and cafes, while maintaining service access and preserving the corridor as “a gritty and authentic part of the existing network of alleys and found spaces.”
Around the corner on Lansdowne, the plans call for maintaining public vehicle access but also expanding the sidewalks for pedestrian space and outdoor seating. There would also be a “pedestrian refuge” at the often-congested corner of Lansdowne Street and Brookline Avenue.
“The ground level of the Lansdowne Block will have uses to help activate the street during non-game days, and complement the night-time activity that is more prevalent on the eastern extent of the street,” the plan says.
The filing last week kicks off the BPDA’s review process and residents can submit public comment on the project on the agency’s website. The project’s backers say they’ve already been holding talks with dozens of community stakeholders.
“Development of the Project will create places, experiences, and amenities that will become part of the day-to-day rhythm of those living and working in the surrounding community and improve the quality of life for all Fenway residents,” WS Development senior vice president Yanni Tsipis wrote.
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