Landmark Center is a New Landmark in Fenway, Boston
Until recently, developer Samuels & Associates had grand plans to revitalize Boston's sports-centric Fenway Park with mixed-use residential and commercial space. The developer originally planned to add around 550 apartment units to its office and retail complex called Landmark Center, which also features 506,000 SF of new office, laboratory, and retail space, and almost twice as much renovated space.
In 2000, Samuels & Associates reopened the historic Landmark Center. The site was originally built in 1929 for Sears Roebuck and a Company Mail Order Store. The building served as a warehouse and distribution center for nearly sixty years. Its architecture includes an art deco design, and the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Responding to the growth of the technology sector, along with a healthy local industry in the healthcare and life sciences sectors, the business-centric design for Landmark Center was envisioned by Samuels & Associates and an architect firm called Bruner Cotts & Associates. The management company is Abbey Group. The ambitious project added two six-story atria into the existing building, which created a floorplan in a figure-eight design. The structure was developed to meet modern needs while retaining the historic building's unique character. Yellow brick and limestone cover the interior, which also includes green marble and French limestone. Skylights with slanted panes add a modern touch. The project also repurposed the outdated warehouse, which opened up about 950,000 SF of additional laboratory and office space when finished. The project also added around 17,000 SF of retail space in the new office building and around 300,000 SF of retail space in the renovated building. Upon its reopening, the project drew the attention of major retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, and REI, all of whom now operate out of the facility. Medical tenants occupy the upper floors, and major institutions including Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health have offices there. The structure features sustainable development initiatives including electronics and regular recycling, bicycle parking spots, and water savings measures. Amenities at the site include an electric car charging station, a bank, a daycare center, a UPS drop-off area, food trucks, and a Hubway. Landmark Center also has a fitness center and a locker room.
Despite the benefits for business, Samuels & Associates abruptly changed its plans to convert Landmark Center into a living space for nearby residents. This announcement follows on the heels of two other developers who eliminated their plans to add residential housing to structures in Fenway. The developer of the downtown Government Center Garage originally proposed to add about 120 apartments to its project, which is a 486-unit residential tower. The developer changed plans, however, to add 55 condo units to the building instead. Earlier in the summer of 2017, another developer reported that it was pushing back construction at the West End's Garden Garage. The development project was supposed to include updating and repurposing the garage with the installation of 470 living units. The developer made plans to turn the garage into a 44-story building. Suddenly, however, it announced that construction would be postponed until 2018, which pushes back the completion date from the original date of 2019.
Fenway, like other neighborhoods in and around Boston, is struggling with an expanding and demanding population and fewer housing opportunities. With an average of $2,863, rental prices in Fenway exceed those in the city as a whole, which has an average monthly rental rate of $2,200. The construction of new housing units in Fenway would alleviate pressure on Boston's surrounding neighborhoods. Developers are also competing to put housing in lots and parcels with available space, which would be an advantage for Samuels & Associates, which plans to add an apartment complex to its existing commercial center. The building has a prime location in the neighborhood, and it is close to transportation centers, restaurants, retail establishments, and other perks that people desire. The building also has a one-acre park outside, which retains the city's goals of protecting and preserving its remaining green and open spaces.