One of Boston’s biggest developers is close to a deal to acquire the site of the MidTown Hotel.
National Development, which built the Ink Block development in the South End, among other projects, is in final negotiations for a long-term lease with the First Church of Christ, Scientist, which owns the acre-plus parcel on Huntington Avenue.
Final terms are still being negotiated, the church said Friday, with the deal expected to close in the first half of 2019 and then a lengthy community process to determine what exactly gets built there. But the church and its representatives said they want a top-notch developer for the property, which sits across Huntington Avenue from the newly restored Christian Science Plaza and reflecting pool.
“While we don’t comment on pending transactions, the opportunity to redevelop The MidTown Hotel is truly special,” said Ben Sayles, a director at the real estate firm HFF, which is handling the deal. “As a pillar of the community, The First Church of Christ, Scientist is being very deliberate in the selection process to ensure a highly qualified developer will produce something that complements the Plaza and the surrounding neighborhood.”
National beat out an array of local and national developers who bid on the site, which the church put on the market earlier this year. The Newton-based firm built a number of prominent mixed-use suburban projects, including University Station in Westwood and Station Landing in Medford, before venturing into Boston with the massive Ink Block complex on Harrison Avenue and a project that recently opened in Cleveland Circle.
Managing partner Ted Tye said it’s too soon to know what they would build on the site of the MidTown — they want to talk with neighborhood groups and City Hall before proposing anything — but that the site, at the junction of the Back Bay, South End, and Fenway, has a lot of potential.
“It’s one of the most exciting development opportunities in the city,” Tye said. “And it’s a location that we and others have had their eye on for many years.”
Built in 1961, the MidTown itself is a throwback. A low-slung mid-century motor inn, it still offers some of the least expensive hotel rooms in central Boston and is popular with international tourists and people in town for Red Sox games and college events looking for a budget-price room. The Druker Cos., the hotel operator that built the MidTown, had a long-term lease on the site that expired in 2016. It’s expected that the hotel will stay open after National acquires the building while the redevelopment plans go through the permitting process.
Final terms, including the price, are still being negotiated, but one industry executive said he expects the 99-year lease to cost in the range of $70 million to $80 million, depending in part on what ultimately is built on the site.