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    Citgo sign will stay visible with new development

    From the time BU put the buildings up for sale, the fate of the Citgo sign was a topic of debate.
    Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/File 2017
    From the time BU put the buildings up for sale, the fate of the Citgo sign was a topic of debate.

    The owner of the block of buildings in Kenmore Square that is home to the Citgo sign is finally sharing its plans to redevelop the properties. And, the company promises, the well-known illuminated sign will remain.

    Development firm Related Beal filed initial plans with the city to upgrade six buildings along Deerfield Street, Commonwealth Avenue, and Beacon Street on the north side of Kenmore, while knocking down three others and putting up an eight-story office building.

    The project would create about 400,000 square feet of office space in Kenmore Square, a location Related says it believes companies would value for its proximity to both Boston University and the Back Bay. Crucially to some, existing views of the Citgo sign from points across the city would be preserved.

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    From the moment two years ago when Boston University put the block of buildings up for sale, the fate of the sign that has been above Kenmore for decades was a topic of debate. Last March, Related — a veteran local developer that paid $134 million for the buildings — reached a deal with Citgo that would keep the sign in place “for decades to come,” though specific terms were not disclosed.

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    With the sign’s fate settled, Related now is moving ahead with plans to build. The company will renovate most of the buildings, with new storefronts along the street and office space above. The three that will be razed include the low-slung New England School of Photography building and buildings on either side of it. That will make room for an eight-floor, 165,000-square-foot office building on the highly visible corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Deerfield Street. Related also hopes to keep as a tenant the Boston University Bookstore, which occupies much of the building below the Citgo sign, said Related senior vice president Patrick Sweeney.

    “The combination of retaining the character of what’s there, while adding something new, we think will be very exciting,” he said. “It’ll be attractive to a pretty wide mix of tenants.”

    The new building will be short enough to allow views of the sign from the west, Sweeney said.

    Drawings of the new complex are not available, the company said, because it has not settled on an architect.

    Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com.