The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved plans to refashion the historic but dilapidated Alexandra Hotel at Massachusetts Avenue and Washington Street into a 156-room, 13-floor hotel with ground-floor and roof-deck restaurants.
Developers Jas Bhogal and Thomas Calus won BPDA approval in March to completely gut what's left of the interior of the historic 1876 structure, keep the facades and then drop a new 13-story building inside them - and in the space vacated when the formerly historic Ivory Beane building was torn down before it could collapse.
The hotel will have no parking, but Bhogal and Calus will have a valet service at the Washington Street entrance - after they move the current Silver Line stop further down Washington Street.
The mayor's office and City Councilor Kim Janey (Roxbury, South End) supported the project. Janey acknowledged concerns over the building height, but said "the height is the trade off we'll take for dealing with the blight in this community."
Several residents spoke in favor. "I would like to get the blight off that corner," one said, adding that the developers have shown a strong commitment to train and hire local residents to work there.
Several residents opposed either the project or the way it moved through the approval process, saying it would cast shadows on nearby buildings and would exacerbate traffic and fumes from traffic in an area already over congested with vehicles and with a high rate of asthma. One resident said the developers seemed to have gone out of their way to ignore Roxbury residents - and that the large blank wall that would face the neighborhood was an affront. Another said letters informing nearby residents of meetings were mis-addressed, so most never got them.
An attorney for TDC, a non-profit group that owns several residential buildings in the area, including one right behind the Alexandra asked for the board to either deny the project outright or defer action until the developers could do something about the rear loading dock, which he said would be on a narrow alley that would make conditions unsafe for people who use the wheelchair ramp in his group's building
Marc LaCasse, the developers' attorney, said he is working with the group to come up with a solution to the handicap-access issue. He said the rear loading dock would mostly only be used for small box trucks and that deliveries in larger trucks would be made in the front. He added that the developers had held an extensive series of meetings with neighbors and the BPDA.
The board voted unanimously to support the project.
Alexandra Hotel documents.