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5,400 person theater in Fenway set to begin construction this fall

A construction site adjacent to Fenway Park on the corner of Lansdowne and Ipswitch Street is set to be the location of an upcoming performing arts center. LAURYN ALLEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Construction on a 5,400-person theater next to Fenway Park will begin this fall, with the building expected to open in 2021. The theater’s developers hope the event space will fill the city’s void between smaller venues and larger arenas.

The 91,500-square-foot complex, which will be located on the corner of Lansdowne Street and Ipswich Street on the east side of Fenway Park, is described in the Fenway Sports Group’s original proposal as a “multi-purpose performing arts center” and will include facilities for community meetings, a theater, an arts center and general events.

Co-developers Fenway Sports Group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, and LiveNation began the application process in December 2018 with the Boston Planning and Development Agency finally approving construction plans in August, according to the BPDA website.

In an effort to build relationships with the surrounding community, the theater will offer discounted tickets to those in the Fenway, Kenmore and Audubon neighborhoods, partner Boston Arts Academy and make itself available for local groups to meet or hold events, according to a BPDA memorandum.

Specifically, the theater will donate $500,000 over five years to BAA, provide internships and jobs directly to BAA students and allow BAA teachers and students to use the space for classes and other educational activities, according to the memorandum.

The theater is also expected to create over 500 new jobs, in addition to approximately 200 construction jobs, and hopes to bring extra business to local businesses, according to the memorandum.

“The proposed project is estimated to generate tens of millions of dollars annually in increased business for local restaurants and retail establishments,” the memorandum reads, “providing a steady stream of patrons for these businesses both during and outside the baseball season.”

The project will also dedicate and additional $1.3 million in project funds to widen nearby sidewalks and improve two nearby MTBA bus stops while also working with the Boston Transportation Department to ensure the surrounding roads and public transit can handle the new influx of people, according to the memorandum.

The public reception of the approval was overwhelmingly positive, with multiple residents expressing that they feel that the area could use a space like The Fenway Theater to bring neighbors together and that the area will benefit from a new venue focused on promoting the fine arts. 

Shereen Kheradyar, 19, of the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, said she feels a new venue for the arts would help to create strong bonds within the neighborhood.

“I think arts, and performing arts in general help build . . . a more well-rounded community, a more creative community,” Kherdyar said.

Philip Daoust, 75, a musician from Back Bay, said he thinks the project will benefit the community by creating more resources for the arts.

“What’s missing in that area is this kind of arts venue” Daoust said, “… I think that would be very valuable.” 

Pat Krall, 66, of Brighton, said she always thinks the city needs more places where the arts can flourish.

“Never have enough [resources for the arts],” he said, “you never have enough.”

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