Author Topic: [Google] Restoration on the corner - Boston Globe  (Read 1291 times)

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[Google] Restoration on the corner - Boston Globe
« on: January 23, 2010, 05:02 »
Restoration on the corner - Boston Globe
23 January 2010, 4:59 am

The Church of Scientology plans to open a street-level cafe, bookstore, and chapel as part of its renovation of the 19th-century Hotel Alexandra, a long-faded Gothic beauty that for years has sat mostly empty at a prominent Boston crossroads.
   
The revived building would add more street life to a corner of the South End that is seeing more activity, and signals that the city’s desire to have the neighborhood revitalized after the removal of the elevated Orange Line on Washington Street is finally coming to pass.

The neighborhood is slowly beginning to take on the trappings of the more gentrified parts of the South End, though the area remains dotted with empty storefronts. A number of new restaurants, including fine dining venues, recently opened on Washington Street, adding to the South End’s reputation as a haven for foodies.

Residents and merchants said fixing up the Alexandra is key to solidifying the neighborhood’s makeover.

“It is going to add to the neighborhood and complete the corner,’’ said Bill Raymer, owner of Restoration Resources antique store on Washington Street. “It will look like it did in the 1800s. It’s an eyesore now.’’

The church bought the building two years ago to be its New England headquarters. It now expects to submit a renovation plan to the city in early spring, and has already given neighborhood and business groups previews. The church will restore the elegant facade, which has columns framing the ground-floor entrances and sandstone blocks in contrasting shades above. The upper floors will have classrooms, a library, and meeting spaces, and the Scientologists plan to add a sixth floor that will be set back from the front of the building.

“This is going to revive a building that has been largely abandoned and empty for over 30 years,’’ said Marc LaCasse, the church’s lawyer. “It will activate the street with pedestrians and lights. People will be coming and going seven days a week.’’

While a construction timetable has not been established, Church of Scientology officials expect work to begin shortly after city permits are granted.

When it opened on the corner of Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue in 1875, the Alexandra was a meeting place for Boston high society at the junction of the city’s then most important thoroughfares. In the early 20th century, the property fell into decline and was turned into a rooming house.

A 1993 fire damaged the interior, and the upper floors are boarded up. South End residents, community leaders, and city officials have long felt the neglected building was a detriment to revitalization of the area, particularly the stretch of Washington Street that leads into Roxbury’s Dudley Square.

Linda Rubin Royer, executive director of the Washington Gateway Main Street program, said the restored building will make the area safer. “They will have people there at all hours, and that will mean less crime.’’

more at http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2010/01/23/church_of_scientology_reveals_plans_for_hotel_alexandra/
« Last Edit: January 23, 2010, 16:09 by mefree »
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