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Private Boston dorms would add 2,000 beds in Fenway

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British firm Scape, which has already filed plans for a Boylston Street tower, has two more projects in the works

Rendering of a multi-story, glassy dormitory in downtown Boston.
The Boylston Street complex would be 15 floors.
Rendering courtesy of Scape

Scape, the British company planning a 15-story, 533-bed independent student dormitory at 1252-1270 Boylston Street in Fenway, has tentative plans for two more projects in the neighborhood. Altogether, the three projects could add some 2,000 beds.

The company closed on a $39 million purchase of the Trans National Building at 2 Charlesgate West in mid-April, and is in agreement with Boston Children’s Hospital to buy a 1.1-acre parking lot off Beacon Street in Fenway, per the Globe’s Tim Logan.

The Boylston Street project 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. Scape filed plans for it with the city in April, though first broached the idea back in late 2018.

Scape currently runs what it has termed “private, academic accommodations” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia, wherein students sign nearly year-long leases. It hopes to grow to 20,000 beds in the United States; and is investing $1 billion in starting that effort in collegian-heavy Boston over the next five years.

Scape

The obvious question is: Will such domiciles help dent 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 Boylston Street plan at least mixed reviews. Some see it, indeed, as a way of denting Boston’s housing crisis, while others question why individual colleges and universities do not house their students. Others, too, see the proposed tower as out of scale for Fenway.

The possibility of hundreds of more beds in two more projects nearby might engender additional opposition. Stay tuned.