Saturday, April 21, 2012

Epic Solar-Powered Fenway Project to Start: 5 Buildings, $450M

A court ruling has removed the most significant legal barrier standing in the way of the long-delayed Fenway Center development, a $450 million complex of apartments, stores, and offices to be built over the Massachusetts Turnpike.  Fenway Center calls for development of 550 apartments, retail stores, parking garages, and a 27-story office and residential building, to be built on parking lots near the ballpark.  A new commuter rail station is also slated to be built next to the site.

Massachusetts Land Court Judge Harry Grossman dismissed a zoning challenge that halted the project nearly three years ago. Grossman, in a ruling made public Tuesday, found that a project neighbor, HRPT Medical Buildings Realty Trust, failed to prove the project would improperly infringe on its property.
The ruling means that the $450 million Fenway Center project can now get under way. The first phase will involve a 102-unit apartment building along Brookline Avenue, a 750-space parking garage on a deck over the Mass. Pike, a pair of apartment building with 316 units total along Beacon Street, and retail that will include the organic grocer Harvest Co-op. Yup.

A lot going on right near the ballpark, and it all can move forward now that a judge has ruled that a neighboring property owner has no chance of winning its case over public street extensions.

The decision clears the way for one of the city’s largest and most transformative construction projects.

Fenway Center will be transformative in two ways. First, as we've seen, there's a lot of stuff going up, notable in itself even in a Boston that is seeing one of its busiest construction sprees in living memory (the project's next phase includes a 27-story tower over the Mass. Pike with additional retail, office space and apartments). Second, the five buildings total planned for the project are supposed to be powered electrically largely by solar panels. Fans on their way to a Sox game will see apartments, restaurants, stores, etc., humming with the same sunshine powering Bobby Valentine. How about that.

The five-building complex is designed to be unlike anything now standing in Boston, with solar panels to generate much of its electricity. Part of the development will straddle the turnpike between Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street, where many Red Sox fans now walk to the ballpark through crumbling parking lots.

State and city officials cheered the decision, noting that Fenway Center will result in hundreds of construction jobs and advance the redevelopment of the neighborhood around the ballpark.

“It is great news that this lawsuit has been decided,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “I am pleased that the $450 million Fenway Center can now move forward and put 1,700 construction workers back on the job.’’