• Megan Woolhouse

    Staff Writer

    Megan Woolhouse

    Megan Woolhouse worked as a reporter at the Boston Globe for more than a decade, in addition to newspapers in Louisville, Ky., and Baton Rouge, La. A graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Clark University in Worcester, she lives in Boston and enjoys baking, reading, and taekwondo sparring with her seven-year-old daughter. Profile

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There are 34 comments on Reimagining Kenmore Square

  1. As a Manhattan resident for over 40 years, I can attest to the truth that navigating Kenmore Square is infinitely more stressful than the challenge posed by Times Square. Enter Mr. Korff. Not only would his plan make walking as well as driving through Kenmore much safer and less traumatic, but his scheme, or some iteration thereof, potentially solves the objective, long held by the BU administration, of finally making the western gateway to campus dignified and pleasant. I hope his development is approved, truly a win-win for all parties.

  2. This vision is beautiful, but completely ignores the fact that Kenmore Sq is a major transit hub. What happens to the bus terminal in this plan? It can’t go underground due to the T station. I suspect the bus-riding clientele is not high on their list of converns.

    Also, this seems like a great plan to continue the transition of the Square to a place for the ultra-rich to linger in $300/night hotels while the rest of us scurry through looking for an affordable place for lunch elsewhere.

    1. Eric, the proposed plan doesn’t touch the Kenmore bus terminal- the renovation is entirely on the West side of the intersection (BU side) not the East side (Barnes and Nobles side) where the terminal is

    2. It seems like the bus terminal is unaffected? The buses themselves might have a slightly different route but the strip of land this moves on to is not where the current terminal is (as you can see it doesn’t pass Uno’s).

  3. The stretch of bike lane along the Hotel Commonwealth’s block and opposite the MBTA bus station is now the most dangerous part of crossing Kenmore Square: it is often occupied by delivery tracks, limos, taxis and cars servicing the Hotel and other establishments on that block, forcing bikes into the fast and heavy traffic of Comm Ave. This project might slow down the speed of traffic, but that is not all. That stretch of bike lane should also be protected and enhanced all the way to Mass Ave. Hope the city and planners will take that into account as well. Thanks!

  4. If you’re going to put the loop around this new mixed-use building and expand out the pedestrian space, why not get rid of the left turn from Commonwealth West to Brookline Ave. Seems unneeded in this scenario, and then you could close off that gap and have direct pedestrian access along the median.

    1. The left turn to Brookline Ave is needed, and well used today. If the direct left were to be eliminated, the proposed left turn loop around the new hotel would have to be widened to handle both Beacon St westbound and Brookline Ave outbound traffic, and there is simply not enough room to do that.

      1. A shift in the block down a little east could widen the loop a little and make that continuous space between the bus terminal, median and park.
        And let’s be honest, about a third of the people that turn left down Brookline street try to do it from the right lane anyway.

  5. While I do support the safer crossings, I am worried that Boston is losing its character with the addition of these high rise buildings. We risk becoming a crowded city where pedestrians are suffocated on either side of the street with huge buildings.

    I also think that another hotel is not necessary in Kenmore. Perhaps the Hotel Buckingham should be purchased and renovated? Additionally, there were plans to put a hotel in the block of buildings where the Citgo sign resides. It seem like there is a heavy focus on catering to the Fenway tourists and not the residents of this area. This project makes me nervous as it seems to be a step forward in gentrifying the Kenmore area, thus making it inaccessible to both BU students (although I am unsure that university officials have us as their first concern) and area residents alike.
    Not to mention that there is a huge problem with homelessness in the area that is not being addressed.

    Apologies for the long comment, these were some observations and opinions that I felt were necessary to share, even if the developer never views or considers them.

    1. I agree, Nicolas. With all these phallic symbols in the sky, Boston is quickly become a true Shadowland, not to mention the wind tunnels this will create. It is windy enough along Comm. Ave with westerlies barreling down the avenue. High rises will only exacerbate this problem. Why does it have to be so high and stick out like a sore thumb? It’s all about making as much money as possible via gentrification and has little to do with quality of life for the working classes. The developer needs to scale it down.

    2. Re: your worry that Boston will lose its character with the addition of tall buildings…I feel like it’s kind of unrealistic to want a city of our size to stay small with relatively short buildings. We need more density, not less. Also, gentrification already came to Kenmore years ago, there’s no stopping it now. There isn’t really a local constituency anymore to displace.

    3. The original plan for the hotel on the Citizen’s Bank lot was part of a dual development for 2 hotels in Kenmore Square. The new one, plus a new Buckminster Hotel tower behind the existing hotel. There is a picture of that proposal in this article: https://www.bisnow.com/boston/news/hotel/dual-hotel-proposal-would-add-height-to-kenmore-square-86086

      I’m not sure, but I believe the new taller hotel proposed in the BU Today article would take the place of the 2 tower hotel proposal, thus the greater height?

    1. Hey Greg. Not sure what you mean. It’s a story about a proposed development that had to be written in a day because it was unveiled Tuesday night. Nothing more than that. What sort of piece were you looking for? Doug

      1. One that didn’t read like promotional literature for the developer’s proposal. Those opening paragraphs are ridiculous.

        One that took a little space for wider context. For example, why should people support more luxury hotel rooms in a city starved for housing?

        One that sought out comment from someone besides the developers and one guy from BU with ties to the construction industry (who unsurprisingly describes it as “remarkable”).

        In short, take some time to do some real reporting.

        1. Hey, so thanks, and I would say, those are good points and things we’ll be following up in the days and weeks and months ahead. As is often the case with proposals like this, this was just a first-day story announcing a proposal and letting people see it. Now the follow ups have to get reaction and explore it deeper. It’s got a looong road ahead of approvals and steps and public hearings. So I guess that’s a long way of saying, thanks, and just be a little patient.

  6. I clicked on this article expecting to hate it because of the mention of a $200 million hotel, but it turns out that Speck has put together a really solid plan here. Kenmore is terrible urban design and the new road configuration should help out a lot with pedestrian crossings. I am slightly concerned about the public plaza. I don’t know if it’s because details haven’t been hammered out yet, but in that rendering it’s just blank space that no one is going to want to hang out in. Interested to see how they provide shade, seating, etc.

  7. The proposal defines the new open space created to the Charles River side of the proposed building as “public.” This begs further definition. Is it public in the same way as the space between the inbound and outbound lanes of Comm Ave that it would replace—that is, “public” in a legal sense of the word that defines the city of Boston or the State of Mass as the landlords? Or is it public in the way more and more gentrified urban spaces in Manhattan as well as most malls in the U.S. are public, namely only in a broad, by-name-only way, which actually gives ownership to the private owner of the new building/property who then reserves the right to control who accessed this putatively public space? This links back to the question about the homeless, but goes beyond. Who is the landlord of the “public” space that gets created, and if it is not a public municipality, who has legal control over it?

  8. What a spectacular idea for a highly problematic intersection and what a beautiful gateway for Boston and Boston University! Robert Korff and his team are the real deal. They care about the community and are proposing positive changes here.

  9. How do guests access the hotel? Is there a parking garage entrance I’m not seeing? A driveway for drop-offs or valet? How will hotel deliveries be made? For us commuters who come down Comm Ave toward Kenmore Square, will we need to go all the way through kenmore square past the bus station to change direction?

    1. The proposed hotel would have no parking. The presentation’s main focus was the major and significant roadwork and traffic pattern changes that are being proposed. The hotel proposal itself will have to address pickup/dropoff and parking for guests with cars.

  10. Great animations. But when do we see a shadow study? The lovely image at the beginning of the video has the sun in the northeast, which is infrequent. Much of the year, the building would put large stretches of Comm Ave and the new “square” in shadow, as the sun is in the SE to SW.

  11. WHY must that building be so tall? Its height is unnecessary and makes the building look completely out of place in the neighborhood. It will tower over everything else in the area, without exception. Is the goal to have rooms that literally look into Fenway Park to sell at a premium price in season? While the traffic flow resolution sounds appealing, congestion due to another major hotel and its guests, employees, uber drivers and service vehicles are a very real concern. As is blocking out sunshine by this tower…

  12. Is this Boston or Manhattan?
    I love my small-scale city feel! Please don’t turn Boston, especially Kenmore Square, into a concrete jungle!

    I agree with Paula & Abby; like Abby mentioned above, I’m looking forward to a shadow study like this one on skyscrapers in Manhattan (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/21/upshot/Mapping-the-Shadows-of-New-York-City.html).

    I love the idea of having access to another outdoor public space and redeveloping pedestrian traffic flow, but besides during our short, hot summers, will this (surrounding) space be enjoyable to stop/wait/recoup in? Most of our year is cold (or cool at best) and our only respite is enjoying the sunlight during our walk, stop, or pauses across this space. I’m worried about the building’s extraordinary height and its affect on both the shade and views of and around Kenmore Square.

    I also agree that by creating a new hotspot, comes more vehicular traffic. I don’t want public parking around Kenmore being reduced any further, but it’s worrisome to see a lack of dedicated hotel access like Just wondering pointed out.
    Eastbound Comm Ave is notorious for double parking due to visitors, customers, and deliveries to shops from McDonald’s down to Hotel Commonwealth. Rideshares like Uber and Lyft already stop at intersections, in the middle of the street, and other unsafe, inconvenient ways.
    If this hotel/plaza is supposed to bring the heart and soul back to Kenmore Square, please be aware and take into consideration all of the hotel guests (private car/rideshare/taxi) and delivery vehicles it’ll bring, and how best to plan parking/loading zones for them.

    The single westbound lane continuing to BU from Kenmore worries me as two lanes aren’t enough as it is right now. By reducing this busy thoroughfare for MBTA buses, BU buses, MIT buses, Rideshares, and private cars, I can only imagine the bottlenecks during rush hours. With the lack of dedicated hotel access, I’m even more worried about senseless drivers making this physical bottleneck even more of a headache.

  13. Overbridge would definitely be an efficient way to ease pedestrian crossing, which I don’t see much in the U.S. Look at things have been in Japan and some populated city in China. Pedestrian and cars are separated into different “2-D planes”,namely pedestrian are crossing the street overhead and won’t yield to any traffic signals and it’s absolutely safe from car! The only matter is climbing some stairs or you could have elevator.

  14. This would be a giant risk to the safety of thousands of people that attend Fenway Park games and events.

    It is no secret that the Mandalay Bay shooter in Las Vegas researched Fenway area hotels (luckily none like the one being proposed here exist), it is also no secret that with in the past few months, another man in New Jersey was arrested and admitted to researching sought after landmarks for coordinated terrorist attacks, Fenway among the highest on his lists.

    Fenway will always be an International Target, with the possibility of unthinkable loss of human life.

    Allowing this hotel to go up might be the single most irresponsible thing I have seen in the City of Boston.

    You have to assume, people are already drawing up plans to use this hotel and its many rooms to pull off one of the worst attacks in American history.

    Why should the city change zoning to allow this?

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