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Huntington Avenue Apartment Tower Project Gets Green Light

Huge changes have been transforming the Boston skyline lately, and yet another is in the pipeline. In mid-December, the proposed Huntington Avenue apartment tower project, located in the Fenway near Symphony Hall, received the green light from the Boston Planning and Development Authority. Here at Boston City Properties, we are watching this project closely for a number of reasons. In addition to extending the “spine” of the city’s skyline, which will then stretch a bit west beyond Massachusetts Avenue, the project will add more than 400 new apartment units to this neighborhood. Upon completion, we will have all of the information that you need about renting a place there.

If you keep track of goings on in the Fenway, odds are that you are already aware of the rather complex history of the site in question. Since almost a century ago, part of the site has served as a theater in one capacity or another. Right when it appeared that the theater would shut down for good, a handful of developers came along with plans to add housing within a mixed-use development right along that stretch. Just a few years later, the wheels are truly getting into motion.

Although it is still very early, quite a bit of information has been released about what developers have in store for the new development. Currently, three buildings sit on the site, which is on a plot of land that is roughly 0.75 acres in size. One of the buildings houses the theater, and that building will undergo extensive modernization, renovation and expansion. The other two plots will be the site of a brand-new apartment tower. Presumably, these will be luxury apartments, but nothing has officially been said regarding that.

Upon completion, the proposed tower will stand 362 feet tall and will have 32 stories. Situated on Huntington Avenue just west of Massachusetts Avenue, the project extends across 252 Huntington Avenue, 258 Huntington Avenue and 264 Huntington Avenue. All told, the mixed-use development will encompass approximately 405,500 square feet of space, including around 7,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space. That space will be spread along the first and second floors. All told, the project is estimated to cost around $290 million for the mixed-use apartment tower alone. Tens of millions of additional dollars will go into the renovation and modernization of the theater building itself.

As always, you can count on Boston City Properties for the latest developments regarding this project. The 426 apartments that are slated to be included in this building will include studios, one-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom units. Nothing about floor plans or other information has been released just yet, but our team will bring you the relevant details as soon as they become available. Most likely, this will be a luxury apartment building with rent prices to match. However, there is chance that this building will have a percentage of units set aside for low-income families. If that turns out to be true, we will bring you that information as soon as we can.

Boston City Properties has been keeping track of this project since its inception. Now that it has been officially approved by the BDPA, which happened on December 14, 2017, things will really swing into motion. It will be interesting to see how the addition of these apartments affects nearby establishments. Once the building has opened and apartments become available for lease, you can check current availability in our convenient online database of searchable real estate listings. In a matter of minutes, you will be able to find apartments in this new building that suit your needs and budget.

The Huntington Theatre has been at its current site for more than 35 years. The theater itself encompasses around 35,600 square feet of space, but it more space will be added during the development of the mixed-use apartment tower. Located just a few steps away from the Avenue of the Arts and right across from Symphony Hall, the theater has long added a splash of flair to the neighborhood with its distinctive façade featuring a Greek drama mask theme. The proposed apartment tower will be a modern glass number, so it will really transform the appearance and feel of this part of the city.

The history behind the theater building is actually quite interesting, and it is good to hear that much of the original architecture will be preserved. When it was constructed in 1925, the Boston University Theatre, as it was known for many years, was the first civic playhouse in the United States. The Huntington Theatre Group formed in the early 1980s. In 1982, the group took up residence at the Boston University Theatre, and it has remained there ever since.

Boston University continues to own the building up until just a few years ago, when three developers approached the university with an offer to purchase the site. Not surprisingly, there was concern among many that the sale would officially spell the end of the Huntington Theatre Group, which had been expecting to vacate the premises and shut down entirely by 2015. Thanks to the offer, however, the theater group got another chance to keep going. In fact, the city itself urged the developers to work with the theatre, and that is how they arrived at a deal that provides advantages for both sides.

Under the terms of the new deal, the developers purchased the site from Boston University for $25 million in May 2016. However, the deal stipulates that the Huntington Theatre Group will continue to operate out of the space, and the group will just have to pay $1 per year to continue to lease the space for the next 100 years. In this way, the theater will be able to keep going, and the developers can proceed with the rest of their vision. The project does not include funding for refurbishing the theater itself, however; this will be the responsibility of the Huntington Theatre Group.

The theater will undergo massive upgrades, modernizations and renovations, however, because the group is working to raise the rest of the funding that is needed to make this happen alongside the new development. Already, the group has allocated around $40 million, and their budget is for $70 million. Fundraising efforts have been underway for some time, and it appears that the group will achieve its goal. Considering that the entire operation was scheduled to shut down for good just a few years ago, the Huntington Avenue apartment tower project couldn’t have come along at a better time.

It is a bit curious to many that the original purpose for the theater space no longer has anything to do with Boston University. Indeed, the school’s involvement essentially came to an end upon selling the space to the project’s developers. However, the school already has plans in the work to develop its own theater space, and it is expected that the site will be located somewhere along Commonwealth Avenue when the time comes. Check back with Boston City Properties for updates about the new Boston University theater when they become available.

Since it looks like the theater will reach its fundraising goal, the group is excitedly making plans to transform the existing space into something that is a lot more modern and comfortable while still retaining much of its original design, architecture and aesthetics. The theater group will enjoy more space upon completion; for example, two stories that are slated to be added below grade will provide space for dressing rooms, rehearsal areas and costume shops along with a loading area for the theater. This will free up more space on the main floor, so the theater can add new features or simply switch things up a bit.

The Huntington Theatre Group operates out of this theater as well as one other in the city of Boston. Between these two venues, the group serves more than 200,000 people per year. This includes around 30,000 children and people from underserved populations. The group plans to improve many aspects of the theater during the project, including major and sorely needed HVAC upgrades; replacing old audio-visual equipment with much more modern and efficient technology; comfortable new theater seats; and much more. With the addition of these and other features, the theater hopes to start serving more than just theater patrons but to provide space for many other activities.

As a part of that, the project will add second-floor space for the theater group. The area will be capable of accommodating approximately 150 people, so it will be used for smaller and different events. Already, plans are in the works for chamber music performances and other smaller and more intimate gatherings. More than likely, lectures will also take place in this space, as it is small enough to allow everyone in the room to easily take in and hear what is being said. The theater will also benefit from the addition of bars, restaurants and retail space, which is being added to the first two floors of the new tower.

When news of the project first starting spreading, locals in the Fenway became concerned about the fate of the beautiful and historic theater building. With its distinctive façade that features a motif of Greek drama masks, it has spiced up the overall ambiance of the neighborhood for decades. Happily, developers plan to retain as much of the original architecture as possible. They have hired a very respected architectural firm to ensure that new elements and old are seamlessly brought together in thoroughly modern yet classic building.

While the façade of the theater building itself isn’t expected to change dramatically, the new tower will boast a glittery glass façade that truly will transform the entire neighborhood. At the street level, the new glass façade will lend some sleek modern flair to the area. However, it will also change the Boston skyline, as it will rise more than 30 stories into the sky. In fact, developers had to request special permission to construct a building that high there, as the other buildings along this stretch are generally low-slung. As mentioned previously, the addition of the tower will extend the spine of Boston’s skyline, and it will be interesting to see it unfold.

To ensure that the resulting mixed-use development works well in the space, the three real estate developers have enlisted the prowess of one of the most respected architectural firms in the city. Best known for their work on the Boston School of Law building, the firm of Bruner/Coit and Associates is already hard at work developing the design for the new building. Mockups of how the building will look are readily available on the internet, and Boston City Properties can provide you with more info as well if needed.

While all of these upgrades are taking place, the Huntington Theatre Group will have to find a temporary home. Currently, the theater group anticipates having to spend 12 to 15 months at different venues while the upgrades and construction take place. Already, the group is projecting that its first performance in the newly renovated building will occur sometime in late 2019 or early 2020. Of course, a lot can change between now and then, and the group may be able to start up again much sooner or even much later.

Top Features of the New Mixed-Use Huntington Avenue Apartment Tower

While we’ve looked pretty closely at the history of the site and of the theater building and group, we have barely touched upon the real meat of this project: the apartment tower itself. As mentioned before, no word has been given on whether these will be regarded as luxury apartments. Given the money that is going into this project, however, we believe that it can safely be assumed. If so, rent prices will be in line with going luxury apartment rental rates. However, as with many projects of this magnitude, low-income housing may also be included.

Some of the most notable features of the upcoming project include:

Expected Timeline

Like many who are learning about the upcoming project, you may be excited and anxious about eventually landing a place there. There is no use in getting too excited just yet, as construction isn’t expected to begin until the fourth quarter of 2018. This means that it will most likely begin sometime between October and December of that year. Currently, developers expect construction to take round 26 months, but this is of course a very early estimate. As always, check in with Boston City Properties for updates about this project in the weeks and months to come.

With Approval by BPDA, Huntington Avenue Apartment Tower is Good to Go

As is the case with every single proposed construction project in the city of Boston, developers for the proposed Huntington Avenue apartment tower had to jump through many hoops to get approval from the Boston Planning and Development agency. Things looked uncertain at first due to the proposed height of the building, but everything went through without a hitch. Indeed, the project was officially given the green light from the BDPA on December 14, 2017. Now that the holidays are behind us and the new year is here, you can expect to see a lot more activity with this project.

Check Back for More Updates from Boston City Properties

The information that we have provided on this page is accurate as of mid-January 2018. This project is still in its infancy, so many aspects of it are sure to shift and evolve over time. While the building will most certainly include more than 400 apartments, many of the other details are up in the air or subject to revision. The team at Boston City Properties will continue to keep tabs on this project, and we will provide updates as soon as they are available.

In the meantime, remember that when the time comes to rent a place at the new apartment tower on Huntington Avenue in the Fenway, you can rely on Boston City Properties for timely and accurate information regarding availability, pricing and more. Now or in the future, sign up to search our continually updated MA real estate listings for free. Our website includes tons of resources for leasing an apartment effectively, including how to work with brokers, and we can refer you to a real estate agent who specializes in apartments in this neighborhood when the time comes. For more info until then, please contact Boston City Properties.

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