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South End’s old Hotel Alexandra to see new life after years of vacancy

Deal in the works

J.F./Flickr

The Church of Scientology is in contract to sell the former Hotel Alexandra at 1631 Washington Street in the South End to a Cambridge-based residential property manager.

The building, famed for its Gothic ornamentation and sandstone facade, has been mostly vacant for decades.

It originally went up in the mid-1870s as a swanky residential hotel for Boston’s well-to-do, but then fell into gradual disrepair after the opening in 1900 of an elevated train line right outside.

The Scientologists’ 2008 purchase of the building did nothing to turn it around. The group originally planned to refurbish the old Alexandra and a neighboring brownstone into its headquarters, but that didn’t pan out (and the brownstone has since been demolished). The church listed the site in 2014.

It’s not clear what new owner Common Management Group has planned—but it does plan something; perhaps a residential conversion, maybe a hotel.

Either would be fine with locals, who have long wanted the boarded-up eyesore to join the South End’s boom. “The community would love — love — to see that building refurbished,” a leader of the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association told the Globe’s Dan Adams.

The buyer has cautioned that a deal for the old Alexandra and its vacant neighbor might take a year to close. Stay tuned.