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Hotel Alexandra redevelopment caught in neighborhood-boundary dispute

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Is the building in Roxbury or the South End?

An old Gothic building past its prime. Boston Globe via Getty Images

The redevelopment of the old Hotel Alexandra at 631 Massachusetts Avenue in the South End-Roxbury borderlands has run into a dispute over just which neighborhood the long-vacant landmark resides within.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency had said in 2018 announcements about the redevelopment plans that it was located in the South End, even though it appears to technically fall on the Roxbury side of Mass. Ave. The agency has since corrected its apparent mistake—but not before the BPDA signed off on the project, which includes more than doubling the building’s height to 142 feet, or 13 stories.

The project still needs zoning and local historical commission approvals, but some Roxbury residents and leaders are peeved at what they see as an approval process that essentially bypassed the predominantly African-American, less affluent neighborhood in favor of the predominantly white, wealthier one (the Globe’s Milton J. Valencia runs down the controversy here).

The dispute also speaks to the often amorphous neighborhood borders in Boston. This amorphousness springs from the usual urban turf claims, but also from the city’s history of multiple annexations and infills. What’d you think? Where does the Hotel Alexandra fall—Roxbury or the South End? Does it matter?