A British company that specializes in building private dorm buildings has filed formal plans for a 15-story, 533-bed dorm on the Boylston Street block across from the Fenway Park side, between the Sunoco station and Jersey Street.
The building, which would be Scape's first such project in the US, would be open to students at nearby colleges.
It would replace two-story buildings that feature several stores and which have a history of being the home of gay-oriented nightclubs, including the current Machine. Scape says it will pay homage to that history by including a 6,000-square foot, 120-seat theater to be turned over to a non-profit group:
The Boylston Black Box will embrace the long-standing LGBTQ heritage of the Project Site. Since the 1970s, the Project Site has served as the location of various LGBTQ entertainment venues, including ‘The 1270’, ‘Quest’, ‘RamRod’, and ‘Machine’. These entertainment venues have been emblematic LGBTQ spaces and have often served - directly and indirectly - as a base for the LGBTQ community in the Fenway neighborhood.
The Boylston Black Box will seek to honor the history of the LGBTQ community’s important relationship with the Project Site and with The Fens and will serve as an iconic location for the LGBTQ community going forward.
Scape says the building would help Boston by reducing student demand for apartments, and by replacing a couple of dowdy old buildings, one of which dates to 1919, the other to 1923:
The Project will replace the decaying, non-descript existing structures – which have exhausted and exceeded their useful lives and inhibit the public realm – to construct an architecturally-compelling, contextual building which combines elements of the neighborhood’s design heritage with contemporary components.
The company detailed how it would keep the dorm from becoming a high-rise Delta House:
The full-service building will be operated - 24 hours per day, seven days per week - by full-time, extensively-trained, professionals employed directly by the Proponent. The comprehensive staff will operate the building with a consistent focus on coordination and cooperation with neighborhood stakeholders, integration and communication with academic institutions, and safety and security of its staff and its residents.
The newly constructed building will adhere to - and continue to comply with, at all times - the most current life-safety systems requirements and unit-occupancy limits. Leases will be for terms of 51 weeks and subleasing and overnight rentals (e.g. 'Airbnb') will be expressly prohibited. Each resident will be fully documented and rostered and will be subject to compliance with an enforceable rental agreement and a detailed handbook (which the Proponent is prepared to share with the City and the neighborhood for annual review).
The Project's location, scale, service offering, and turn-key, fully-furnished units will effectuate the magnetism needed to draw academic tenants from the existing neighborhood housing stock, returning that inventory to the workforce and families.
Scape hopes to begin 22 months of construction this fall.
In addition to the BPDA, the Zoning Board of Appeal will also have to approve the proposal.
The BPDA has scheduled a public meeting on the proposal for 6 p.m. on April 22 at Simmons University's Main College Hall, Room C101, 300 the Fenway.