Locked in development purgatory for almost two decades, the 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center project is finally slated to begin construction. The announcement came this week from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has closed a $21 million, 99-year lease with developers John Rosenthal and Gerding Edlen. Rosenthal and Gerding Edlen secured a building permit and closed on a $240 million construction financial package so that the first phase of the project may begin as soon as possible.
The first phase, starting the week of Monday December 11th, will take approximately two years to finish construction. It will feature two buildings comprising 312 apartments, 37,000 square-feet of ground-floor retail space, and 200 underground parking spaces. The development further calls for a 12,000 square-foot air rights deck and landscaped pedestrian walkway to be constructed over Yawkey Station. Construction on the 8-story residential building will take about 18 months, and the 14-story residential building will open approximately six months after. The project's second phase, which includes air-rights over the Pike, will construct two additional buildings; one with 225 residential units and 150,000 square-feet of commercial space, and a second with 110 residential units and 10,000 square-feet of commercial space. In total, the massive Fenway Center project will cost nearly $600 million to complete.
Rosenthal has long been attempting to build on the 4.5 acre state-owned site. His plans for building over the Massachusetts Turnpike have produced numerous financial and logistical setbacks. With the lease closing, Rosenthal is eager to finally get to work on the highly-anticipated project. "It's hard to put it into words, because this has been like a Sisyphus type of Greek tragedy," Rosenthal remarks. "It's been so hard for so long. It's been a 15-year project, overcoming barriers, and having financing, and losing financing. But it finally closed, and I have the best partners from an equity and debt standpoint that I could ever ask for". He reflects that Fenway Center will soon become a model for smart growth, a transit-oriented development on underutilized parking lots where residents can live, work and play without vehicles.
Rosenthal's development partner, Gerding Edlen, has an extensive portfolio - developing projects including Troy Boston in Boston's South End, The Eddy in East Boston, and 315 on A in Fort Point. Gerding Edlen development partner, Kelly Saito, shared her remarks on the project. "We are very pleased that this important project for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston will finally be realized. Fenway Center's phenomenal location, the vibrancy of the surrounding neighborhood and the continued demand for housing in the Boston market make this a great time to start construction."
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