The Zoning Board of Appeal today unanimously approved developers' plans to retain the shell of the former Alexandra Hotel on the Roxbury/South End line as cladding for a new 13-story condo building.
Under the latest proposal by developers Jas Bhogal and Thomas Calus for both the old hotel and the neighboring parcel where the Ivory Beane building used to be, the new structure will have 70 condos, rather than the 76 they had earlier proposed. They reduced the number of "compact" units - smaller than normally allowed under city zoning codes - from 33 to 19. The number of units they'll sell as affordable will remain at 10.
When Bhogal and Calus bought the long abandoned building from the Church of Scientology in 2018, they proposed using the facade as a shell for a boutique hotel. But those plans foundered with the arrival of the pandemic and they proposed condos instead.
City Councilors Frank Baker, Tania Fernandes Anderson and Michael Flaherty supported the latest iteration of the condo plans today, as did state Rep. Jon Santiago of the South End. Santiago said more housing is just what the area needs and that the new Alexandra would be the herald of a revived Washington Street into Nubian Square.
Also supporting the proposal: Steve Fox of the South End Forum, who agreed with Santiago: "This will bring residential ownership opportunities to the South End, which are really missing, which we desperately, desperately need."
However, several Roxbury residents opposed the proposal, saying that besides being an example of the South End claiming something that is really in Roxbury - which they said meant Roxbury residents were not included in earlier discussions - the building would tower over the area. And they noted it would have no parking. They called for the whole project to go back before the BPDA for a new public-hearing process, because the change from hotel rooms to condos was not a minor change.
Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo addressed the neighborhood line issue: "You should take up the conversation with the BPDA and the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services about what is Roxbury and what is the South End and what is that middle area," but it's not a matter for the zoning board, she said.
Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo said