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Boston University buys Allston lot approved for 17-story residential building; Suffolk to become Beantown Pub's landlord downtown

Rendering of 76 Ashford St

BU minds the GAP: Rendering of the building it could put up on Ashford Street.

Boston University yesterday paid $19.8 million to buy what is now a one-story warehouse and parking lot at 76 Ashford St. in Allston from City Realty, which won approval in September to put up a 17-story 254-unit apartment building there.

Separately, Suffolk University yesterday paid $30 million for 101 Tremont St., best known as the home of the Beantown Pub.

The Ashford property BU bought sits between the Gardner-Ashford-Pratt area, in which large numbers of BU students rent apartments, and the area where, someday, the state might build a new commuter-rail and bus station that would serve both BU's side of the train tracks and the new mixed-use development Harvard is planning for the former train yard along the Framingham Line. To gain city approval, City Realty agreed to set aside part of the parcel for access to the new station, should it actually get built.

City Realty, which is currently trying to redevelop an area centered on the intersection of Harvard Avenue and Cambridge Street, paid $6.7 million for the roughly 3/4-acre parcel in 2018.

BU did not immediately say what it plans to do with the property, but Anthony D'Isidoro, president of the Allston Civic Association, said he is thrilled by the sale and hopes BU will work to build the tower, but as student housing, rather than apartments, to help ease the pressure on nearby rental prices - and ultimately to ensure access from the GAP area to the possible transit station. In a social-media post this afternoon, he wrote:

Given my lack of confidence that City Realty would ever get around to constructing 76 Ashford St a city approved project, whose cooperation agreement contains key enabling provisions for the new West Station as part of the Allston I90 Multimodal Project, I have also been advocating to both parties, the potential benefits of City Realty selling the site and project to Boston University.

Not only would it help address the student housing issue by freeing up additional units for community residents and hopefully relieving pressure on the local rental market, but guarantee a key circulation piece for West Station and the Malvern St Transitway.

I am pleased to inform you that our hopes and dreams have been realized.

Downtown, meanwhile, Suffolk plans to convert the 11-story 101 Tremont - which has offices above its drinking zone - into dorm rooms, Banker & Tradesman reports.

Suffolk bought the building from an LLC owned by GLL Real Estate Partners, based in Orlando, FL, which paid $50.2 million for the building in 2016, from a seller who had paid $9.7 million for it just three years before that.

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Comments

I work for a company which had the top two floors of 101 Tremont. The office closed "temporarily" for cleaning at the beginning of Covid* since two of our colleagues had just returned from Italy. I've never been back, and the company gave up the lease a couple of years ago. We actually started occupying it before the owners had completed the renovations and it was a warren of old law offices, complete with volumes of law books. The renovations really opened up and modernized the place. Now they'll be breaking it back up into individual dorm rooms. How the world (and that building) has changed!

*And the irony; those colleagues were just fine, but I came down with Covid shortly there after (as a friend of a friend said, I was "almost Covid famous" since I had it so early). Pretty sure I caught it from the Uber driver who took me home that last day in the office. I figure she caught it from someone attending that bioscience conference which was the first mass spreader event in Boston.

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101 Tremont is a storied building. A lot of great trial lawyers had their offices there back in the day. Barry Reid, who wrote The Verdict, his partner Joe Mulligan, larger than life med/mal lawyer and Ray Flynn’s Corporation Counsel, Jake Brier, trial lawyer extraordinaire and one time counsel to BHA (under Collins) and BWSC ( under White). All sadly gone.

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If Harvard would devote half of the Allston multimodal site to this density of housing (about 370 units per acre) it would wind up with about 20,000 units of housing. At two people per unit, that would be enough to house every student at Harvard, MIT and BU, which would pull a good deal of pressure off of the local housing market in nearby neighborhoods.

It would need very good transit, though.

But we probably need more labs and parking spaces for them, right?

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Fitty million in 2016. Actually $50.150M.

This is a perfect fit for Suffolk and downtown core life.

If the liquor license for the Marliave hasn't been sold, it just went up in value.

Suffolk should just rename themselves Freedom Trail U.

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I wish the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds would use commas in their sales-price listings for people like me!

Thanks, fixed in the post. So the thing went dramatically up in value between 2013 and 2016 and now Suffolk is getting a bargain, at least compared to what this year's seller paid for it.

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Sounds like the days of drinking a cold Sam Adams in front of a cold Sam Adams might be numbered.

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Suffolk is converting the building above into dorms, but what motivation would they have to evict the long time tenant of the retail space?

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Another student cafeteria maybe @eppemike81?

When other colleges have purchased buildings with businesses (especially drinking/night life related), they tend to close them down. See Punter's Pub w/ Northeastern, the entirety of Bolyston Pl by Emerson, etc. Maybe Suffolk won't sanitize it but who knows.

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Punters was a dilapidated one story building that Northeastern is tearing down and replacing. 100 Tremont is a solidly built midrise building that they'll be renovating the interior of to make dorm rooms. No reason they'd need to disturb Beantown Pub and I don't see why they'd want to.

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Exactly like Bolyston Pl and Emerson who cleared everything out of there and sanitized it for student spaces. Why would Suffolk want to keep a large bar underneath it's dorms when it could repurpose it for a student dining room or other uses?

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and never drove a single nail. Anthony's comment demonstrates how frustrating it has been for committed community activists in dealing with City and others like them in neighborhoods all over Boston.

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Both of these sales are indicative of the challenge ahead for city coffers where institutions not obligated to pay real estate taxes pull properties off the tax rolls. The Suffolk acquisition is a perfect example of worst case scenario where a decline in commercial value opens the door to this trouble.

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