Developers propose two new hotels for Kenmore Square

Two development companies teamed up today to file preliminary plans for new hotels at the intersection of Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue that would house up to 763 rooms in two separate towers.

Mark Development had already floated a proposal to replace a single-story Citizens Bank branch on Comm. Ave. with a hotel. But in a letter of intent filed with the BPDA today, Mark said that in addition to that 24-story, 375-room hotel, it is now teaming up with the Buckminster Annex Corp. to tear down a small office building and garage behind the Buckminster Hotel along Beacon Street to put up a separate 19-story, 388-room hotel.

With a total of roughly an acre of land under consideration, at 560-574 Comm. Ave. and 655-665 Beacon St., the companies would seek BPDA designation of a "planned development area" with its own zoning rules for the dual project.

In its letter, the companies explained the benefits the city would see from letting the hotels go up:

Kenmore Square is a lively hub for education, hospitality, dining and living and it is the main entry point to Fenway Park, Boston's most famous sports venue. The Proposed Project will redevelop the remaining underutlized parcels at the western edge of the Square, transforming them by building modern, high-rise hotels that flank and define this important public space. The Proposed Project will create additional, badly needed Boston hotel rooms at a range of price points, supporting the nearby Back Bay business district, the Longwood Medical Area and area attractions. It will further provide for appropriate ground-floor and streetscape improvements to better knit together this complex intersection, in which cars dominate despite heavy pedestrian use.

The letter signals the companies' intent to file a more detailed project-notification form this summer, along with proposed zoning for the lots.

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Comments

Needed?

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There's a great pitch to any proposed building. Just wondering if these hotels are needed. Are people complaining? Are other hotels booked solid all the time?

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Voting is closed. 14

There is always a need for

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There is always a need for developers to make money. Other issues are not important.

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Which would indicate there is

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Which would indicate there is demand. No much money to make from an empty hotel

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Price of Tea in China

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Your comment is about as irrelevant as if it were about Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice futures in 1983. The Fountainbleu project was for Condos, not a hotel. It was a multi-Billion dollar project whose revenues were not at all related to the operating of a hotel. It was financed with a pre-recession project plan that blew up for issues completely unrelated to a hotel use. But, yes, it is a development that went bad and has not been finished.

I would assume you are OK with the concepts of central planning in a non-capitalist system where projects are publicly financed for the good of the people. So tell me your thoughts on how it is developers' fault there are ghost cities across China. In Fountainbleu, private money took a risk and failed. They lost their capital. That is exactly what should of happened. But the planners of the ghost cities are still running the show in China.

But, in your mind you made a point.

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The Buckminster needs the

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The Buckminster needs the overhaul, badly, IIRC they had originally planned this several years ago, but it got delayed for whatever reason.

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All I can say is this...

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All I can say is this... though the Hotel Buckminster should be able to expand down Beacon (at the same height)... However the Citizens Bank location at 560 Comm Ave, would DIRECTLY block the views of Kenmore Tower at 566 Comm Ave.... this building...

https://images1.apartments.com/i2/8has8ob_Vq9Aoa0S05idOIVndrmgHLNiux64ac...

Not to mention, does no one care about the architectural integrity of Kenmore square and in turn Boston... Kenmore may be 'near' Fenway, but it is not Fenway.... In a city planning sense, building up on Boylston makes sense (which is why those projects got approved so fast, and are shooting up like crazy)..., But on Commonwealth and Beacon?...NOT AT ALL.

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Does Kenmore have 'architectural integrity' ?

It's always seemed to me to be a mismash of styles from various periods. This is not a bad thing, but there's no overall unifying theme.

And I don't know why anyone who doesn't live in the particular building you named should especially care about the views from it.

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Probably

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Every time my family comes to visit, hotels downtown are always $$$. Relative to other large cities, we have a low concentration of hotels in the urban core. Between all of the colleges, sportsing and tourism, I'd say there's demand.

Alternatively you could argue that these developers have run their numbers and wouldn't propose these if there wasn't demand because capitalism.

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Yes

Are other hotels booked solid all the time?

Yes, Boston has a tight hotel market. More hotels will lower guest rates and will bring more events into the city.

The developers aren't stupid. If they thought the area was oversaturated with hotels they'd be proposing condos instead.

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Occupancy Rates

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Boston averages an 82% occupancy rate which is very high. In high demand times there are 99% rates for all hotels within the 128 corridor. When the study was done regarding needs for a potential Super Bowl, they needed to include Providence and Hartford to have the minimum number of rooms available.

There are a number of hotel projects planned in other parts of the city (Financial District, Seaport, Melnea Cass) but not much in this general area where demand is some of the highest around. Other than being generally anti-development or just plain obstructionists there is not much for anyone to object with in this proposal. I guess some will take their best shot though.

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Hotels are not booked up

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The answer to your questions, as I work for a Boston area hotel, in that part of town there is not a need for a hotel of grand proportions. There is typically always vacancies at the Hotel Commonwealth, Buckminster, or a the Verb, the Marriott.., not to mention the Prudential/Copley hotels a 10 min walk away.... And when there isn't a Fenway event (which is the majority of the time), many of those hotels are half empty.

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How exactly will these hotels

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How exactly will these hotels reduce the dominance of cars? Will they, say, have limited parking, and make some mitigation payments to the T to improve Green Line and bus service in the area?

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How has charging outrageous

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How has charging outrageous prices for limited parking "reduce(d) the dominance of cars" worked at other hotels built in this area the last 30 years? You expect people that have any amount of $ to bike up here or take the bus when they come from other areas?

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Priced parking reduces cars

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I travel for work a good bit, and have to choose between renting a car and taking public transit/taxi/lyft. Oftentimes the car rental is cheaper -- but if hotel parking is $20+ a day, it can tip the balance.

Boston is far better off if out-of-towners leave the driving to the professionals, be they T operators, taxi drivers, or gig-economy-participants. It means less driving, and less dumb driving.

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I was talking more about the

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I was talking more about the travelers that stay here that live within driving range of Boston- particularly the large number of folks from the Tri-State Area that would be visiting nearby educational institutions to Kenmore- putting a lid on parking is still not going to keep folks from driving up here and driving once they get here- particularly when the idea of Amtrak/ bus is impractical at best from some swaths of that area

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Build It!

I hope these projects get built. The buildings they'd replace are eyesores and have no value to the neighborhood. (Unlike the cool strip of stores BU razed when building the Hotel Commonwealth.)

I'd hope this development will spur two things from the city:

1. A revamp of the Kenmore Sq intersection to provide better movement by pedestrians.

2. Shovel the pedestrian medians! In the ~20 years I've lived in the area the city ignores Kenmore Sq when it snows. They'll plow the roads and leave the medians with huge snow piles that turn to ice as pedestrians slip and slog over them for weeks. (Particularly the little island near the Citizen's bank and the 2' median on Beacon St.) Since no business is directly adjacent, it's the city's responsibility.

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Kenmore Square has been a hotel district before

Many of the old hotels were later converted to apartments, condos, or Boston University dorms. The Buckminster is the only survivor of that era, though even it was a college dorm (Graham Junior College) for a while.

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Storyville at the Hotel Buckminster

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Given its history as housing one of the great jazz clubs of its age, it would be nice to see that revived....although not sure a quality jazz club would really survive in this town given that there's a couple already and very little audience. (Please prove me wrong.)

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Would love to see that

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We've got a handful of decent jazz spots but they're disconnected and none of them are in great locations. The Rat may never be welcomed back to Kenmore but maybe there's room for a different kind of old school music room.

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The green line LRV streetcars can not handle the volume

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of passengers it already has. Are there plans to:

Increase capacity

Speed the trains up, especially underground? They go far too slow,much slower than they did when I was younger and the old trains were in use.

Obviously, you need good public transit here; if everyone wasin a car, there would be paralyzing gridlock and no place to park.

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Except one thing

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Having these hotels here will lessen the need for people to take the Green Line to Fenway Park, BU, or perhaps even the Longwood Medical Area. Potentially, these proposals could mean a slight (very slight) easing of volume on the Green Line.

Also, I assume "when I was younger" was before a spate of collisions on the Green Line that has lead to greater spacing between trains in the tunnel.

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Seconding this

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In addition, the MBTA is looking at possibly replacing much of the Green Line fleet as they need to order more cars for the GLX. Newer trains should be able to run a bit faster. I don't know if we'll ever regularly see 3 car consists on the GL though... which is what it really needs at peak times.

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What are current heights?

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What are the current heights of the tallest three buildings in Kenmore Square now? 19 and 24 stores seems pretty dang tall relative to the rest of the 'hood. Am I wrong?

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yep

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In the last month or so it has received promotional levels of feedback from places like Bisnow, Curbed, and the Boston Herald/Globe. Granted I understand it is an intriguing project, but I cannot help but focus on what is being completely ignored, and that is Kenmore Tower at 566 Commonwealth. Attached are photos of the building, view from the building, and the proposed project that directly compromises the buildings value.

I just can't get over the fact that everyone is so ready to celebrate the essential theft of views that many hard working peopled payed for. I hope that you will consider covering the other side of the proposal and understand that though some may see a hotel in that location a benefit to the city, it will have come via sleazy backdoor real-estate moves, as the views this air rights proposal will directly effect are completely and utterly against it.

This all is simply how it effects these specific Bostonians, and does not speak to the countless other problems that would go along with building up on that plot in Kenmore square, which from a city planning perspective I could talk all day about and would be happy to.

Is this something you would cover? Or does no one care? I understand if the answer is something I don't want to hear, but an honest reply would be great.

In any case, I would love to have an opportunity to have some further dialog regarding this project.

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Location