The developers who won city approval in 2019 to keep three sides of the former Alexandra Hotel at Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue, gut the interior and add several floors to create a 13-story, 150-room boutique hotel have filed a request with the BPDA to instead turn what's left of the structure into a 13-story, 106-unit condo building.
In their request, developers Jas Bhogal and Thomas Calus said their chances of getting financing for their original hotel project evaporated when the pandemic took hold and the local hotel business collapsed - just a few months after they received their last major approval, from the South End Landmark District Commission, in 2019. In contrast, they say, financing remains possible for condo construction in Boston.
Bhogal and Calus paid $11 million for the building in July, 2019 to the Church of Scientology, which had once hoped to turn the building into its Boston headquarters. Developers and owners have been proposing new uses for decades for the former hotel, which opened in 1875, with an unusual steam-powered elevator. The hotel's decline began with the construction of an elevated subway line down Washington Street in 1900.
In their notice of project change to the BPDA, the developers say they would retain the same basic size and exterior originally planned for the hotel - essentially a glass tower that would be clad on its lower half on three sides with the original Alexandra facade. The fourth side would be extended into what is now a vacant lot where the equally historic Ivory Bean building once stood, but which had to be torn down after pieces of it began raining down on Washington Street.
Most of the units would be "compact" studios and one-bedroom condos, smaller than normally allowed by the city, as part of a pilot program to see if smaller units can help ease Boston's problem of housing people who are not financially well off. Some 14 of the units would be sold as affordable. The 13th floor, originally planned as a roof deck, would instead have the building's sole 2-bedroom unit plus three smaller units and a deck, according to the plans.
As with their hotel plans, the developers say the building, which already has a Silver Line stop outside, would have no parking. Residents would be barred from obtaining parking permits for either the South End or Roxbury - which neighborhood the building is in has been the subject of some debate.
The BPDA will hold a Zoom meeting on the proposalat 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 7.
Alexandra Hotel filings and calendar.
H/t Lisa for alerting us to this.