Less than a year after purchasing Hotel Commonwealth from Boston University, the hotel management announced Thursday plans to expand the property by building additions to the rear of the hotel facing the Massachusetts Turnpike and Fenway Park.
Adam Sperling, general manager of Hotel Commonwealth, said the latest expansion plan would add 94 hotel rooms and over 14,000 square feet of event space to complement the property’s existing 149 hotel rooms and 30,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space.
“The expansion will create enhanced facilities … to better service the growing needs of Hotel Commonwealth’s patrons which includes, among other groups, Boston University, Fenway Park and Longwood Medial Area, as well as travelers visiting the city of Boston,” he said.
The expansion, sponsored by Sage Hospitality and Fundamental Advisors, is an extension of the standard guests have come to expect, said Walter Isenberg, president and chief executive officer of Sage Hospitality, in a Thursday press release.
“With a prime location in Boston’s beloved Kenmore Square, Hotel Commonwealth will soon be able to provide additional comfortable and spacious rooms, as well as a world-class event space to better fit the demands of the city’s booming travel and tourism industry,” he said.
Kenmore Hotel LLC bought Hotel Commonwealth from Boston University in December for $76.5 million. The project is one of many developments in the Kenmore Square and Fenway area, including the finishing of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail station on Yawkey Way and the Fenway Center.
“Based on Hotel Commonwealth’s historical performance, there is a palpable need for additional rooms, specifically in the Kenmore Square area,” Sperling said. “As other neighborhood hotels have simultaneously begun their own developments to increase rooms and facilities, there are clear signs here regarding the current growth in hospitality and hotel market demands.”
Melina Schuler, assistant director of media and public relations for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said the project is moving on to the next phase.
“The project is in review so right now we’re working on gathering comments from the community, hearing from elected officials and talking to other agencies within City Hall that can reflect the transportation impact of this, things that folks are concerned about,” she said.
Sperling said the expansion will start in the summer of 2014 and is expected to be finished in a year.
Some residents said they were unsure if the hotel should expand.
Siobhan O’Connor, 51, resident of Fenway, said instead of expanding the hotel, there should be more housing being created for Boston residents.
“There’s going to be less parking … [but] the noise level wouldn’t be any worse,” she said. “I don’t really think it should be approved though, because there’s not enough housing for people other than college students.”
Kristina Williams, 21, resident of Brighton and student at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, whose building overlooks the hotel’s current parking site, said construction would affect students attending the school.
“The noise level would be pretty distracting … from within our school, but our school is moving within the next year so it’s not going to be too bad,” she said. “I guess they should approve it. It’s fine … we’ll be out of there by then anyway.”
Tom Riley, 55, resident of Brookline, said the hotel has improved the area with restaurants and he hopes the hotel will continue to add to Kenmore Square.
“Kenmore Square is a far more desirable location than it was many years ago, and I think [the hotel] had something to do with it,” he said. “There’s so many other projects planned in the immediate area, it’s hard for me to imagine that a single project will have an impact. If it goes through the regular process [of community and neighborhood review], it should be approved, if it can get over those hurdles.”