Developers are moving ahead with plans for what would be Boston’s first independent student dormitory.
British firm Scape on Thursday filed detailed plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency for a 15-story, 533-bed privately run dorm on Boylston Street in the Fenway. It would be run by Scape, independent of any particular school, and open to graduate and undergraduate students from local universities. The student housing model is common in Europe.
Scape recently opened its US headquarters in Boston and wants to build several similar dorms in the city. Mayor Martin J. Walsh is pushing for 18,500 new dorm beds by 2030, but some local colleges and universities are wary of committing their scarce capital budgets to housing, creating opportunities for private developers.
In a letter to the BPDA, Scape stressed that the company owns and operates its buildings — currently in London, Dublin, and three cities in Australia — and provides full in-building support services to students. It also unveiled plans for a 120-seat theater that it would operate in the building.
Still, some people in the Fenway have concerns. When the project was first floated last fall, the Fenway Civic Association expressed its “firm opposition,” saying the site is inappropriate for private student housing. Other groups, such as the Fenway Community Development Corporation, said the project could take pressure off rental housing in the neighborhood by absorbing demand from students.
“If it works the way they say it’ll work, it could be a tremendous help for the neighborhood,” said Rich Giordano, Fenway CDC’s policy and community planning director.
Thursday’s filing kicks off formal BPDA and community review of the project.Tim Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.