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$650 million expansion project in Fenway approved by BRA

Marking the first development project under Boston Mayor Martin Walsh’s leadership, an expansion project on the Landmark Center was approved Thursday by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

“The Landmark Center expansion is a transformative project that continues the revitalization of the Fenway neighborhood,” Walsh said in a Mondaystatement. “It will add new places to live for Bostonians of all income levels, improved neighborhood food access and new public green space. It’s a great project for the City, and I’m pleased that the Boston Redevelopment Authority has approved this development.”

The Landmark Center will bring new housing units, underground parking, unique retailers and a large Wegmans grocery store to the Fenway area.

Steven Samuels, founder and chairman of Samuels and Associates, the project developers, listed the many benefits that this expansion will bring to the area in his letter to the director of the BRA.

“[The Project will] contribute to the neighborhood’s vision for a diverse urban village, dramatically increasing the high quality publicly accessible open space on the Project Site and revitalizing a large-scale existing office building and transforming it into a modern employment hub,” he said. “[It will also] improve the pedestrian experience along well traveled routes between the neighborhood and the MBTA station. These changes will dramatically enhance the Fenway’s position as a vibrant mixed-use district.”

According to the Notification Form submitted to the BRA, the finished Landmark Center will include 550 housing units, 13 percent of which will be affordable. It will additionally include 110,000 square feet of retail space, 75,000 square feet of grocery space, 15,000 square feet of office space and a subsurface parking garage with a capacity of 1,500 vehicles — not including space available for valet parking. The total cost will be approximately $650 million.

The project is at the intersection of Park Street and Brookline Avenue. It will involve demolishing the existing parking garage and building multiple buildings between eight and 15 stories high that will be connected with the existing building.

Although it is a costly project, it will return this investment in community benefits, said the release.

“The project provides over $8 million in public benefits for the surrounding community for new public art, a multi-use path, improvements to Audubon Circle, support for Emerald Necklace Conservancy programming, and new open space to replace existing surface level parking on the Park Drive side of Landmark Center,” the BRA Board said in the release.

Additionally, this project is anticipated to create 1,690 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs.

Some residents said they had mixed feelings about this expansion because they believe although it may not hurt the community at all, it might not benefit it either.

“Fenway is really lively, there’s a lot of night life here,” said Mahir Gulrajani, 19, of Kenmore. “Most people that live here mainly go to either Emmanuel College or Boston University, [there are] a lot of bars and clubs, so I’m not sure if this is really an attractive area to people out of their twenties. People who are in that age range already come here a lot so the Landmark Center won’t really make a difference for them. It won’t take away from Fenway, but I’m not sure it will really add to it.”

Theo Canty, a restaurant host in Fenway, said the Landmark Center would not fit in with the demographics of the area.

“I don’t think this is the location for such a luxurious center, especially pricey housing units,” he said. “There are a lot of college students here who can’t really afford that and unless you’re a die-hard baseball fan, this area doesn’t have anything really significant to draw you in.”

Dottie Duffy, 53, of Fenway, said she in looking forward to what the expansion will bring to the area.

“It’s going to add to the neighborhood, just because the neighborhood has already changed so much anyways,” said “I’ve lived here my whole life … this used to all just be bars, this building used to just by an ACE Ticket center. I’ve seen a lot of changes just in the past few years, and I do think a lot of people would move into those housing units. This area is convenient to a lot of things, the subway, shops and restaurants and obviously the Fenway Park has a lot to offer.”

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