At lunchtime one day last week, tables on the Back Bay nook known as Stanhope Street were full of a quiet bustle — visitors in town for graduation season, business folk tapping away on laptops outside Flour Bakery + Cafe and The Friendly Toast, dogs snoozing in the warm spring sun. Across the street, toddlers swung on playground equipment at Frieda Garcia Park. A low-lying brick building at 39 Stanhope, originally built as a stable and most recently the home to the Red Lantern restaurant and nightclub, stood quiet.
For years though, a team of developers has had an eye on that old stable as a location for a new hotel, formally notifying the city of an intention to build in 2019. The developer — a joint venture of affiliates of H.N. Gorin Inc. and Masterworks Development Co. LLC — has not given up on the idea, and this month filed new documentation with the Boston Planning & Development Agency outlining plans to build a 21-story, 300-room hotel.
“Both the city of Boston and the national hotel market are currently recovering from that extended period of stagnation and its follow-on economic impacts,” attorney Donald W. Wiest wrote in a May 22 letter to the BPDA. “We look forward to completing this project as a sign of confidence in a revitalized lodging sector and a renewed city.”
Gorin and Masterworks say they’ll keep and restore the building’s facade on the first two levels, including the stables — “at an estimated additional cost of $3 million,” Wiest wrote — and also have studied converting Stanhope Street to a pedestrian mall at the behest of the BPDA and the Boston Transportation Department. The city plans to keep a section of Stanhope Street between Clarendon Street and Cahners Place — the section currently full of temporary outdoor dining setups — as “a pedestrian-only streetscape.”
“If the City does not construct this planned streetscape by the time Project construction is nearing completion, the Proponent will collaborate with the City to construct new sidewalks on Stanhope Street,” the development team said in its filing.
The hotel would have a drop-off zone on Stanhope Street but not have any on-site parking, with guests instead using nearby parking garages, such as the 100 Clarendon St. garage across the street.
The project will need BPDA review and approval, and the developer’s filing does not include a construction timeline, nor any mention of a hotel brand or flag. The Raffles Boston Hotel & Residences is wrapping up construction just across Clarendon Street.
A recent hospitality report for the Boston metro area from real estate firm Marcus & Millichap found that monthly visitations “are expected to remain elevated” though “the timeline for business travel recovery will extend into at least 2024.” Average hotel occupancy in the area, while still lagging prepandemic levels, has gained every year since 2020.
“By the end of 2023, hotel demand across Greater Boston will exceed 16 million room nights, the highest level in metro history,” the Marcus & Millichap report said.