Neighborhood opponents are lining up against a condo tower that entrepreneur Steve Belkin wants to build along Charlesgate in the Fenway. Batting cleanup is the Boston Red Sox.
Newly-released documents show the baseball team filed a five-page comment letter in October with city officials complaining that Belkin’s proposed 340-foot tower, two blocks away at Charlesgate and Ipswich Street, would loom too closely over its beloved stadium and “significantly transform the iconic views of the city skyline that fans now enjoy.”
“We have strong concerns that this proposed project would create an unacceptably tall and impactful 29-story building in very close proximity to Fenway Park, and which might have significant negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood as well as our historic ballpark itself,” wrote David Friedman, the team’s senior vice president for legal and government affairs, in a letter to the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
The Red Sox’ principal owner, John Henry, also owns the Boston Globe. The team had no comment.
The Red Sox included in its comments an image they said came from Belkin’s development team showing the new tower jutting above the park just beyond the right field stands. Belkin’s formal submission to the BPDA does not include any images showing views of the tower from Fenway.
Other groups, including the Fenway Civic Association and Boston Preservation Alliance, have also raised concerns about the tower, chiefly over the shadows it may cast on nearby parks and “uncomfortable” winds it would generate on Ipswich Street.
The tower has some support, too, including from the Fenway Alliance, an umbrella group for cultural and educational institutions in the neighborhood, and Fenway Studios, an artists’ housing development that Belkin’s company, Trans National Properties, is in talks with to help fund renovations.
Justin Krebs, who is spearheading the project for Belkin, said his team will modify the building design to address wind and shadow concerns. But he also noted its height is necessary to build enough units to fund promised improvements to Ipswich Street and pathways along the Muddy River, and to create more affordable housing in the neighborhood.
“We’re open to a dialogue,” Krebs said. “But we haven’t heard a reason why we should reduce the height. We’re sensitive to how that impacts our ability to deliver all of the other benefits that seem to be widely embraced by the community.”
But Krebs noted the tower would not cast shadows onto Fenway Park itself. Still, the team, in its letter, calls for more thorough study, and if necessary a shorter building.
The BPDA has been holding public and community meetings on the project in recent weeks. Final approval is still at least a few months away. In an e-mailed statement, BPDA director Brian Golden said his agency is “eager to see redevelopment at the site that is appropriate for the Fenway neighborhood.”