Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NEIGHBORHOODS: Hotel near Fenway Park is on deck for developer

A Boston developer will build an eight-story hotel near Fenway Park after a proposal for a laboratory and office building fell victim to the economic downturn.

William P. McQuillan, principal of Boylston Properties, said he will begin construction this fall on a 175-room hotel and retail building at 121 Brookline Ave., between the ballpark and the Longwood Medical Area.

Marriott Residence Inn has agreed to operate an extended-stay hotel on the property, hoping to cater to families visiting nearby hospitals and colleges. McQuillan said he has yet to secure tenants for 6,000 square feet of retail space planned for the building, but noted the neighborhood has attracted many new restaurants and stores in recent years, from Guitar Center to the Japanese eatery Basho.

“It’s a different use in the neighborhood, but it’s a natural evolution away from surface parking lots and one-story garages,’’ said McQuillan, who previously teamed up with developer Steve Samuels to build Trilogy, the large residential and retail building near the corner of Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street.

McQuillan had sought to build lab space at 121 Brookline Ave., which now houses an Ace Ticket location, but demand from biotechnology and medical tenants dried up as the economy tanked in late 2007. He said he began talking to hotel companies in 2009.

“I would have preferred to build on the momentum of Trilogy, but the world slowed down a little and we were treading water for a few years,’’ McQuillan said. “I’m excited to see the next wave of projects in the neighborhood.’’

The $60 million hotel will fill a dead spot along Brookline Avenue, adding new street activity in an area that lacks foot traffic when the Red Sox are out of town. A rendering of the building, designed by Group One Partners Inc. of Boston, shows a red brick facade with a series of colorful retail awnings along the street.

The hotel, with rooms for around $200 a night, will offer large suite-style rooms with kitchenettes for long-term guests. It will also feature an enclosed rooftop pool and a balcony framed by a large pergola. McQuillan, who has received city zoning approvals, said he hopes to begin construction by November and open the hotel in mid 2013.

City officials said the project is one of many moving forward in the neighborhood as economic conditions improve following the recession. Samuels & Associates is pursuing a plan to build residences, offices, and stores at 1325 Boylston St., and construction is moving forward on the first stage of developer John Rosenthal’s Fenway Center project over the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Kairos Shen, chief planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said McQuillan’s hotel — the first Marriott Residence Inn in Boston’s core — will help fill a need for mid-priced hotel rooms in an area that mostly features more expensive brands. He said the project also creates an opportunity to open service-oriented retail stores in demand from hundreds of new residents in the Fenway.

“This project helps build on what we’ve been trying to do in the neighborhood for many years now,’’ he said.

Casey Ross Boston Globe May 7, 2011

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