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Boston’s first independent student dorm would open in Fenway under advancing plans

British firm Scape hopes the Boylston Street location is the first of at least a few in Boston

Rendering of a multi-story, glassy dormitory in downtown Boston. Rendering courtesy of Scape

A 15-story, 533-bed independent student dormitory would go up at 1252-1270 Boylston Street in Fenway under plans from British company Scape, which recently opened its U.S. headquarters in Fort Point.

It would be the first such dorm in Boston—unaffiliated with any school and open to graduate and undergraduate students—and it would include a 120-seat not-for-profit theater focused on LGBTQ-centric works.

That Scape wants to build in Boston is not new. The company first broached the idea back in the fall of 2018. It filed detailed plans with the Boston Planning and Development Agency in mid-April.

Scape currently runs what it has termed “private, academic accommodations” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. It hopes to grow to 20,000 beds in the United States; and is investing $1 billion in starting that effort in Boston over the next five years, beginning with the Boylston Street location.

The obvious question is: Will such domiciles help put a dent in Boston’s housing crisis, one of perennially high demand and lagging supply? Scape thinks so—or at least the company has said that that’s one of the reasons it picked Boston for its U.S. beachhead.

“Scape USA’s entry into Boston comes at a time when the city has identified the need for 69,000 units of housing, 16,000 new undergraduate beds, and 3,000 graduate beds by 2030,” the company said in an October 2018 statement.

“Scape is solving a student housing problem in Boston where an immense off-campus student population is exerting enormous pressure on the supply-constrained housing market, displacing workers and families and driving up rental costs.”

Locals so far have given Scape’s plans mixed reviews. Some see it, indeed, as a way of denting Boston’s housing crisis. Others see it as out of scale for the area, per the Globe’s Tim Logan. If the company does get the necessary go-aheads, the dorm could open in 2021.