Another prominent Kenmore Square landmark — the historic hotel where the plot to throw the 1919 World Series was allegedly hatched — could soon be converted to, what else? Lab space.
Life science developer IQHQ closed a deal Tuesday to buy the shuttered Hotel Buckminster, at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Beacon Street, for $42.5 million, according to a deed filed in Suffolk County. While IQHQ wouldn’t disclose its plans for the building, the California-based firm primarily builds lab space, making it likely that the brick Beaux Arts hotel will be the latest in a long list of Boston buildings being converted to accommodate the city’s booming life science industry.
“The Buckminster represents an opportunity to enhance IQHQ’s vision to develop a vibrant life science district that runs from Kenmore Square through the Fenway to the premier research, academic, and medical institutes in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area,” said John Bonanno, IQHQ’s chief development officer. “We are excited about the promise this central and evolving location holds to connect these prominent neighborhoods and institutions.”
The hotel has been closed since March 2020, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent months, demolition work has been underway inside, with the owners floating plans to add a floor and several dozen additional rooms. Apparently those plans have changed, and the Buckminster will be no more. A representative for the hotel’s longtime owners did not return messages seeking comment.
One of Boston’s more colorful hotels, the Buckminster was built in 1897, 15 years before nearby Fenway Park rose.
It became popular with ballplayers and fans and in 1919 — it is believed — Chicago White Sox player Arnold “Chick” Gandil and Boston gambler Joseph “Sport” Sullivan met in room 615 to cook up the plan to throw the 1919 World Series between the White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. A decade later, radio station WNAC — which was located in the basement — aired the first network radio broadcast via a 100-foot-tall antenna on the roof. And in the 1950s, famed Boston jazz club Storyville brought the likes of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holliday to the Kenmore Square address.
By the 1960s, though, the Buckminster had started to fade. It served as a rooming house in the 1980s and for most of this century operated as a budget-conscious alternative to pricier Back Bay hotels until it closed last year.
Its next incarnation is not yet clear.
IQHQ said it will “work closely with the community and city officials” on a plan for the site, although how much it might build beyond the existing six-story footprint remains to be seen. Any large-scale redevelopment would need city approval and likely undergo public review through the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
Next door to it, IQHQ is codeveloping the billion-dollar second phase of Fenway Center, which will put a 350-foot-tall life sciences tower on a 2-acre deck being built above the Massachusetts Turnpike. Across Beacon Street, developer Robert Korff has Boston Planning & Development Agency approval to build a 299-foot-tall hotel where a squat Citizens Bank now stands. That project has not yet started work. And outside the Buckminster’s front door, developer Related Beal is redoing the row of buildings beneath the Citgo sign along Commonwealth Avenue, turning it into a full block of office and lab space.
Many of the projects have a large life sciences component, hoping to catch demand from drug makers spilling out of the nearby Longwood Medical Area.
The Kenmore Square and Fenway area are quickly emerging as one of several new life science hubs cropping up around Greater Boston. Rents for life sciences space in Cambridge and Boston now exceed $100 per square foot, according to real estate firm Newmark, with historically low vacancy rates, despite 12 million square feet of new or converted lab space under construction around the region.