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Old 12-13-2007, 03:01 PM   #1
JimboJones
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Proposed Alexandra Hotel Renovation | 1769 Washington St | South End

Hello.

Does anyone have any renderings of the renovation of the Alexandra Hotel, at the corner of Washington Street and Massachusetts Ave, in the South End?

Also, is there an existing thread? I did a search to no avail.

Much appreciated!
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Old 12-13-2007, 03:17 PM   #2
Ron Newman
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

I don't know, but the city has given the owner of that property way too many fourth and fifth chances to bring it into good repair and redevelop it. Perhaps it's time to say "no more" and take it by eminent domain?
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Old 12-13-2007, 03:34 PM   #3
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Yes, I've been at the last two-three South End Landmarks Commission meetings where the owner & his architect / development team has presented its designs (which are almost exactly the same as designs he submitted in 2002 - construction was imminent, then!).

I remember something about January being a new deadline of sorts, so we'll see.

The city seems in no hurry to take the next step, although they have it in writing that if he didn't complete certain things by ... omg, LAST December, they could take it away.
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Old 12-13-2007, 04:21 PM   #4
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

I doubt you'll find a rendering on the South End News website, but the did have one in their print edition earlier this year (I wanna say back in February or so).

Just in case, here's a link to their site's search page:
http://southendnews.com/ME2/Audience...Search&level=1
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Old 12-14-2007, 02:34 PM   #5
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

From this BBJ article, it looks like the owner has no financing to convert it to condos and is trying to sell it.

http://boston.bizjournals.com/boston...11.html?page=1
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Old 12-14-2007, 03:48 PM   #6
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
I don't know, but the city has given the owner of that property way too many fourth and fifth chances to bring it into good repair and redevelop it. Perhaps it's time to say "no more" and take it by eminent domain?
The housing Court, not the City, gave the owner all the extra chances. The City has been trying to force the owner of the property to clean it up through receivership, however the Housing Court recently ruled in favor of the owner in this case and granted an extension.
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Old 01-30-2008, 02:11 AM   #7
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

New role awaits a historic eyesore
Church of Scientology buys former Alexandra Hotel

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | January 30, 2008

The Church of Scientology of Boston Inc. has bought the historic Alexandra Hotel building at Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue in the South End and plans to relocate its local headquarters from the Back Bay, following extensive renovations.

The sales price of the Alexandra - ravaged by fire in the 1993, decayed, empty, and recently eluding City Hall's hopes that it would become residences - was not disclosed by the Rev. Gerard Renna, the top Scientology representative in Boston.

The church, founded by L. Ron Hubbard and counting among its members actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, "pledges to transform the hotel to its original grace and elegance," it said in a news release.

Advised by Staubach Co. of New England LLC, the church bought the former 50-room hotel, at 1759-1769 Washington St., and an adjacent building on Washington. The church already has a storefront presence a few doors down on Washington.

City officials said the seller was Macedonia Realty Trust, which had owned the building for several years and had presented several plans to renovate the building and create condominiums.

Built in 1875, the Alexandra was a luxuriously appointed hotel in Ruskinian Gothic style. It faded in prominence when the elevated transit line was built along Washington Street in 1900. It closed in the 1960s and then was gutted by a fire in 1993.

The city had worked hard to get the prominent structure redeveloped, especially since the MBTA's Orange Line was relocated in the 1980s.

"The city's been tortured with this eyesore for so long," said Renna, who has been with the Church of Scientology in Boston since before it opened its current headquarters on Beacon Street in 1974.

Randi Lathrop, the Boston Redevelopment Authority's director of community planning and former head of the Mayor's Washington Street Improvement Task Force, said that as of a few weeks ago the city thought the building's former owners might redevelop it into condominiums, with extensive ground-floor retail space.

Because the building is so prominent, situated at a major intersection, City Hall wanted shops opened there to generate street-level business activity for the neighborhood. It is not yet clear what the church will install on the first floor, but after searching for a new home in Boston for three years, church officials clearly liked the visible location.

"This is a very prominent building - it's one of the criteria. They've found it with this," said Brian Smallman, vice president of Staubach of New England.

Staubach has done other work for the church around the country and will be project manager on the design and redevelopment.

"It could be an absolutely gorgeous building by the time they're done with it, and they do everything first rate," Smallman said.

The building had been for sale in recent years, at one point with a price tag of $3.5 million, said Lathrop, but the sales have always fallen through.

The city at one point went to court to have a receiver appointed for the property, because it had languished and rotted for so long, but later relented.

The building is not itself designated as a Boston Landmark by the city Landmarks Commission, but it is part of the South End district, which does have landmark designation. Any changes to the exterior of the building would need advance approval.

The project will also need approval under the BRA's small-project development process, which is expected to take months.

No architect has been selected, Smallman said; officials at church headquarters in Los Angeles will be involved in the process and have many decisions to make about the final configuration.

"The city and the mayor, especially, have focused on this as his pride corner," Lathrop said, referring to Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "It's a very important building to the district. The good news is the church will spend millions of dollars on the building."

The Church of Scientology is based on what followers call founder Hubbard's "technology" and its ability to help them understand more about themselves and others. The church acknowledges the controversy it creates on its own extensive website. "As Scientologists have openly and effectively advocated social reform causes, they have become the target of attacks," the site says. The church has battled with the media, the Internal Revenue Service, and supporters of certain psychiatric drugs and treatment.

Renna said he answers "ecclesiastically" to the mother church in Los Angeles.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.

Article URL:
http://www.boston.com/realestate/new...toric_eyesore/
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:05 AM   #8
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Why don't they just merge with the outfit up the street into 'Christian Scientology'? It'll be less confusing for a lot of people, and the Alexandra may be put to a livelier use.
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Old 01-30-2008, 08:20 AM   #9
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Oh my god does that suck. I'd rather see the building demolished than have them move into it. This is trading one kind of blight for another and won't help the neighborhood at all.

Last edited by Ron Newman; 01-30-2008 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:45 AM   #10
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

This is not a good move. I have grave theological issues with the "church" of scientology, but I would still object if a real church community were to move into the Alexandra. It deserves to serve a much wider residential/retail purpose.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:02 PM   #11
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

This sale is a result of unfettered agency law at work. It is those who hold the constitution so dear to their heart that were vehemently opposed to letting the owner do what he felt with his own property.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:22 PM   #12
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

^^ What did the owners want to do but were prohibited from doing?
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Old 01-30-2008, 03:36 PM   #13
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

I'm not aware of any development plan that the city prevented the owner from carrying out. On the contrary, the city had to over and over again push the developer to plan any redevelopment at all.
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Old 01-31-2008, 06:52 AM   #14
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banker & Tradesman
Alexandra Hotel Plan Critics, Skeptics Surface
By Thomas Grillo
Reporter


The former Alexandra Hotel in Roxbury has been sold to the Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology is moving to Roxbury.

After more than a decade of promises to restore Boston?s Alexandra Hotel, its owner has sold the dilapidated landmark at Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue to the controversial religious group for an undisclosed price. But some neighbors are skeptical that the eyesore will ever get restored while others already have lined up in opposition.

?This must be a sign of the apocalypse,? said Christos Hamawi of the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA), in an e-mail to members. ?This derails any progress that would happen on that block, since they are sure to use the storefront for their church, rather than for retail or restaurant that would encourage the development of the remaining block and beyond ? While this may indeed save the building?s exterior, it will kill the building?s spirit and destroy any progress to our neighborhood.?

The church purchased the properties at 1759-1769 Washington St., which includes the hotel and an adjacent 3-story row house. The sale was recorded at the Suffolk Registry of Deeds on Monday for $1. Upon completion of planned renovations, the church will move its headquarters to the restored building from their offices on Beacon Street.

But Ray Lussier, another WSANA member, is skeptical that the blighted building will be renovated. ?I don?t believe this will happen,? he said. ?We?ve been through this too many times and hopes have been raised and dashed too often for me to get excited about it. Perhaps the church has more credibility than previous buyers, but who knows.?

Neither Peter Bakis, the former owner, nor Gerard Renna, director of the Church of Scientology of Boston, returned calls seeking comment.

In January 2002, the Boston Redevelopment Authority granted approval for creation of 20 condominiums at the hotel. But developers of the Alexandra showed no intention of moving forward with the project. As a result, the court appointed a receiver to supervise the redevelopment. Since then, at least three offers were accepted, but none of the potential buyers could convince Bakis to sign a purchase-and-sale agreement, a source close to the deals told Banker & Tradesman.

Kamran Zahedi, president of Urbanica, a Boston-based developer who has completed projects in the South End, said he was interested in buying the property to convert it to a boutique hotel. He estimated, given its poor condition, the 6,000-square-foot building would fetch about $150 per square foot, or $900,000.

?I?ve been looking at that building since 1993,? he said. ?We never made an offer, but we read news stories about the owner and every time he was close to a deal, it fell through and no one knew what happened.?

Once considered a gateway to Roxbury?s Chester Square, the Victorian and Gothic 5-story Alexandra was built in 1875 as a residential hotel for empty nesters and young married couples, or ?the newly wed and the nearly dead,? in the slang of the day. The building featured marble staircases, an elevator and metal-clad bay windows.

The 2,000-square-foot apartments offered 12-foot ceilings, plaster crown moldings, steam heat, cast iron columns and glass transoms for ventilation. It was a prestigious address until Boston?s elevated train was built in 1900. The noise and intrusive design of the elevated streetcar brought a slow decline to the hotel and the neighborhood.

Thomas Grillo may be reached at tgrillo@thewarrengroup.com.
NLA
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:00 AM   #15
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Zahedi misplaced a decimal point; that's no 6000 square foot building. At the quoted 2000 square feet per apartment, that would make this a three-unit building.

60,000 is more like it, and that would put its value at $9 mil if you accept Zahedi's $150/SF.
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:13 AM   #16
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

^^ Might be a B&T error. I'll keep my eyes open for a correction.
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Old 02-01-2008, 09:56 AM   #17
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Sure enough, here is the corrected paragraph:

Quote:
Kamran Zahedi, president of Urbanica, a Boston-based developer who has completed projects in the South End, said he was interested in buying the property to covert it to a boutique hotel. He estimated, given its poor condition, the 38,000-square-foot building would fetch about $150 per square foot, or $5.7 million.
How they got 6000 from 38,000 I have no idea.

Good catch ablarc!
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Old 02-02-2008, 06:13 PM   #18
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Quote:
Originally Posted by statler View Post
^^ What did the owners want to do but were prohibited from doing?
nothing.
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Old 02-02-2008, 07:57 PM   #19
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Quote:
Originally Posted by statler View Post
^^ What did the owners want to do but were prohibited from doing?
I think he is a small time slum lord. He probably thought he would be allowed to do minimum repairs and then rent at a high price. The meeting I attended he seemed very enthused about restoring the building but it was probably way beyond his ablility.
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:31 AM   #20
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Re: Alexandra Hotel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Banker & Tradesman
Hotel Plan Critics Speak Out; Mayor Vows to Back Proposal
By Thomas Grillo
Reporter


The former Alexandra Hotel in Boston has been sold to the Church
of Scientology. Mayor Thomas M. Menino says he supports the church?s
development plans, but some area residents have voiced opposition.


The Church of Scientology wants to transform an abandoned Roxbury hotel into the organization?s Boston headquarters, but some neighbors are raising questions.

After more than a decade of promises to restore the Alexandra Hotel, its owner has sold the dilapidated landmark at Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue to the controversial religious group for an undisclosed price. Some neighbors are skeptical that the eyesore will ever get restored while others have already lined up in opposition.

?This must be a sign of the apocalypse,? said Christos Hamawi of the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA), in an e-mail to members. ?This derails any progress that would happen on that block, since they are sure to use the storefront for their church, rather than for retail or restaurant that would encourage the development of the remaining block and beyond ? While this may indeed save the building?s exterior, it will kill the building?s spirit and destroy any progress to our neighborhood.?

But Mayor Thomas M. Menino said he is baffled why residents would raise questions about the intentions of the church, which is best known for celebrity members such as actor Tom Cruise, to breathe life into the 5-story neighborhood blemish.

?I look forward to making that project happen,? Menino told Banker & Tradesman. ?The question before me is: Do I keep a dilapidated building that has been an eyesore for 25 years or do I make it a gateway to our city? That?s a decision we?ll have to make. I would tend to think that a beautiful, architecturally redesigned building is what I would support. How can anyone be against that??

The church has purchased the properties at 1759-1769 Washington St., which includes the hotel and an adjacent 3-story row house. The sale was recorded at the Suffolk Registry of Deeds last week for $1. Upon completion of planned renovations, the church will move its headquarters to the restored building from its offices on Beacon Street.

But Ray Lussier, another WSANA member, expressed skepticism that the blighted building will be renovated.

?I don?t believe this will happen,? he said. ?We?ve been through this too many times and hopes have been raised and dashed too often for me to get excited about it. Perhaps the church has more credibility than previous buyers, but who knows??

Neither Peter Bakis, the former owner, nor Gerard Renna, director of the Church of Scientology of Boston, returned calls seeking comment.

In January 2002, the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved construction of 20 condominiums at the hotel. But Bakis showed no intention of moving forward with the project. As a result, Housing Court Judge Manuel Kyriakakis appointed a receiver to supervise the redevelopment. Since then, at least three offers were accepted, but none of the potential buyers could convince the owner to sign a purchase-and-sale agreement, a source close to the deals told Banker & Tradesman.

Kamran Zahedi, president of Urbanica, a Boston-based developer who has completed projects in the South End, said he was interested in buying the property to convert it to a boutique hotel. He estimated, given its poor condition, the 38,000-square-foot building would fetch about $150 per square foot, or $5.7 million.

?I?ve been looking at that building since 1993,? he said. ?We never made an offer, but we read news stories about the owner and every time he was close to a deal, it fell through and no one knew what happened.?

Once considered a gateway to Chester Square, the Victorian and Gothic-style Alexandra was built in 1875 as a residential hotel for empty nesters and young married couples, or ?the newly wed and the nearly dead,? in the slang of the day. The building featured marble staircases, an elevator and metal-clad bay windows.

The 2,000-square-foot apartments offered 12-foot ceilings, plaster crown moldings, steam heat, cast iron columns and glass transoms for ventilation. It was a prestigious address until Boston?s elevated train was built in 1900. The noise and intrusive design of the elevated streetcar brought a slow decline to the hotel and the neighborhood.

In 1993, a six-alarm fire of suspicious origin swept through the building. Later, a group of demonstrators occupied the upper floors in an effort to draw attention to the city?s homeless. They hung a banner from the top floor that said ?Housing Is A Human Right.?

Over the years, Bakis vowed to complete the renovation. But little was done to improve the building and promises to refurbish the Alexandra were broken, residents and officials said.

Since 2000, more than $650 million has been invested by public and private partnerships in the area. The Alexandra is the only blighted building on its block.
NLA
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