By remodeling the archaic, now-closed Howard Johnson Inn located in Fenway, a development company is creating a new, modern hotel to reflect the diverse and vibrant Fenway neighborhood.
The old hotel is being remodeled into an “unconventional and irreverently styled” hotel by Samuels & Associates. The new hotel, called The Verb, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2014, said Diana Pisciotta, executive vice president of Denterlein, a communications company working closely with Samuels & Associates.
“With an unconventional décor and rare music and pop-culture memorabilia from Boston’s heritage, supplied and curated by the Boston Phoenix archive, the concept seamlessly melds the best of Boston’s past with the spirited culture of modern-day Fenway,” she said.
Samuels & Associates is undertaking the project with business partners Weiner Ventures and Spot-On Ventures. Though this is the first hotel project Samuels & Associates has taken on, its key partners both have extensive hotel experience. Spot-On Ventures, for example, was behind development of the Mandarin Oriental in Boston.
“Weiner Ventures is a development partner and investor with Samuels & Associates on all of the projects in the Fenway,” said Adam Weiner, managing partner of Weiner Ventures, in an email. “This is a natural next step to develop one-of-a-kind buildings for this vibrant mixed-use neighborhood.”
Pisciotta said the project can be attributed to a longstanding commitment to developing the Fenway area, but would not disclose the cost of the construction project.
“It is a spectacular neighborhood that offers the best of Boston in terms of arts and culture, outdoor spaces, dining, entertainment and shopping,” she said. “There is a clear demand for additional hotel space and creating The Verb Hotel was a natural fit.”
The Verb will fully restore the architecture of the original hotel, which opened in 1959 under the name of the Fenway Motor Hotel, as well as introduce a cultural vibe inspired by Fenway’s musical past.
The new hotel will have 94 fully renovated guest rooms and common spaces including a lobby, restaurant, lounge and pool area.
While the construction project is underway, surrounding businesses have felt the impact of the Howard Johnson Inn’s absence.
Andy Moore, manager of The Baseball Tavern, said he has noticed a small decrease in business since the hotel closed for renovation.
“The Dropkick Murphys played last week for St. Patrick’s Day and we used to get a good crowd that came up from all over the place,” he said. “They would stay there [at the Howard Johnson Inn] and always come over to here, but we didn’t see that this year.”
Jimmy Nguyen, manager of Mixx Frozen Yogurts, also has had fewer customers since the hotel closed, but said he supports the goal of the construction project.
“Long-term, it will be worth it,” he said. “The whole community will be better for it, and I think it will increase the foot traffic.”
Several residents of Fenway said they think the development will help the neighborhood grow and become more vibrant than ever before.
John Harris, 59, of Fenway, said the old hotel was a “tired building” and hopes The Verb will attract a new musical culture.
“A hip hotel is great … I hope they bring back the jazz music,” he said. “I like the jazz music they had here before, so it would be nice to have it again. I know we need more hotels in downtown Boston and I know also that this part of Boylston Street is really being developed, and that’s a good thing.”
Fred McGrane, 61, of North Boston, works in Fenway and said he is glad the new hotel will better utilize the land available.
“In real estate … you want to get the highest and best use of the land as possible,” he said. “That building [the Howard Johnson Inn] wasn’t making the best use of the land as possible. The fact that Boston is growing and showing good economic growth all around here is a good thing.”