Scape, a British company that initially wanted to build a 533-bed private dorm building on Boylston Street, has filed new plans with the BPDA that now call for a Boylston Street building with 477 market-rate apartments - and for 445 apartments in a new Audubon Circle building and another 220 apartments in a new building on Charlesgate West.
Scape's plans also call for a 10,000-square-foot, 156-seat "Boylston Black Box" theater focusing on LGBTQ productions in the Boylston Street building, in homage to the LGBTQ clubs its construction will eliminate.
In a filing this week with the BPDA, Scape, which until now has focused primarily on private dorm towers in the UK, Ireland and Australia, and which had hoped to make Boylston Street its first US building, said it changed focus after several months of meetings with Fenway residents and city officials, who noted the worsening imbalance between housing and jobs in the Fenway, which is expected to add 10,000 more jobs over the next three years.
Scape says if it wins approval for its three-building proposal, it would exceed the city's requirements for affordable housing, through the 220-unit building at 2 Charlesgate West, in which all the apartments would be rented as "affordable" - to people making between 80% and 120% of the Boston area median income. That would mean 20% of the total units in the three-building proposal would be affordable - city regulations call for 18% - in a building far shorter than the luxury tower once proposed by the lot's long time owner.
In addition, the company says that 50 of the units in its proposed 445-unit Audubon Circle building would be set aside as extended-stay apartments for families of patients at Children's Hospital. The building would also have 215 parking spaces in an underground garage.
In its filing, Scape emphasized that despite its dorm background, it is not trying to sneak students into the Fenway via its Boylston building and really is trying to meet the neighborhood's growing housing demand, especially for middle-income residents:
The housing units at Boylston Place have been designed to residential standards and specifications. Minimum lease terms will be one year, and any type of short-term rental or overnight accommodations (e.g. Airbnb, Sonders, etc.) will be expressly prohibited and enforced.
Moreover, the product and programming designed by the Proponent – locally and nationally – is certainly not a ‘co-living’ concept; co-living providers typically are driven by high-velocity short-term leases for folks seeking to ‘rent-a-bed in a 10-bedroom unit’. In contrast, the programs developed by the Proponent are diligently comprised of a mix of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom residential housing units which prioritize privacy, affordability and proximity to the urban core.
The residential units will be fully-furnished which will further enhance the affordability and attainability for all residents of the Fenway neighborhood.
The proposed 15-story Boylston block would rise on land now occupied by two-story commercial buildings between the gas station and the new Viridian building, including Machine, the Baseball Tavern and a Domino's.
Scape is proposing just 15 parking spaces, for use by the Boylston Black Theater, which is now proposed for a total of 10,000 square feet of space, up from the 6,000 the company originally proposed.
The view from Boylston Street towards the Back Bay:
The Audubon Circle would sit on land on which Children's Hospital won approval in 2013 for an office building with 432 above-ground parking spaces, at 819 Beacon St.
At Charlesgate, Scape says it will try to draw in "faculty, staff, artists-in-residence, researchers, graduates, undergraduates, etc." for at least some of the Charlesgate units.
Proposed Charlesgate building:
1252-1270 Boylston Street Draft Project Impact Report (165M PDF).