340-foot residential tower proposed in the Fenway
A forgotten corner of the Fenway could soon get a new identity.
An arm of Steve Belkin’s Trans National Group filed plans with the city Tuesday to put a 340-foot apartment and condominium tower on the site of its longtime headquarters on Charlesgate West.
Tucked between the Massachusetts Turnpike and the Back Bay Fens, the project would be a bookend to development along Boylston Street toward Longwood Medical Area that is giving the neighborhood a skyline of its own. It would also, the developers say, enliven a ragged stretch of Ipswich Street known mostly as a cut-through to the Back Bay for people hurrying out of Fenway Park after a Red Sox game.
But Ipswich is also an axis for the arts community, home to the Boston Arts Academy High School, a new studio building for the Boston Conservatory and the Fenway Studios artist housing complex. Justin Krebs, who’s leading the project for Trans National Properties, said he hopes to work closely with those groups and other neighborhood arts institutions to turn Ipswich into a vibrant new street.
“It’s just such a fantastic corridor, but it’s also a forgotten corridor,” Krebs said. “Our goal is to really improve the look and feel of it.”
Trans National would do that by tearing down a boxy blue-and-white building — facing Charlesgate and backing onto Ipswich Street — that has housed Belkin’s companies since he bought it in 1976.
In its place would be a rounded, terraced tower of glass and brownstone, with about 125 condominiums and 200 apartments on the upper floors — final numbers haven’t been determined — and retail and restaurant space at street level. Lighting would be replaced and murals installed along Ipswich Street, the chain-link fence along the Mass. Pike would give way to a more artistic sound-baffling barrier, and pedestrian access around the Muddy River and Charlesgate would be improved.
“Our proposed Charlesgate development can have a transformative impact on this part of the Fenway neighborhood,” Krebs said. “TNP is committed to providing the resources to accomplish this.”
In recent months, Trans National has been meeting with neighborhood groups to build support for its plans. It has talked with Fenway Studios and the Fenway Community Development Corporation, Krebs said, about ways to use some of its city-mandated contribution to affordable housing programs to help finance affordable apartments in the neighborhood. And it is talking with Boston Arts Academy about programs for students.
Kelly Brilliant, executive director of the Fenway Alliance — a network of arts and academic institutions in the neighborhood — said the project could turn a “windswept, neglected stretch of Ipswich into a vibrant corridor.” She hopes it could help develop more housing for artists in the Fenway.
By filing its plans with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Trans National kicks off a formal city review. Krebs said he expects to file more detailed plans this summer and hopes to start construction next spring. If that happens, the building would open in 2020.