Opinion » Letters

Alexandra Hotel Development Welcomed

by Randi Grohe Lathrop
Thursday Jul 28, 2022

Tuesday July 12th was an exciting day for the neighborhoods of the South End / Lower Roxbury in Boston. The proposed redevelopment of the Alexandra Hotel by Jas Bhogal and Thomas Calus on the corner of Mass Ave & Washington St was approved by Zoning Board Appeals in Boston.

In 1895, the original Alexandra Hotel was named after Alexandra of Denmark and was an apartment building which had a steam powered elevator. It has been vacant since the late 1970's and had a disastrous fire in the 1990's.

As a long time resident of the South End since 1986, I look forward to seeing this historic building being restored and developed soon. This important site will have 70 new condos with 10 onsite affordable units with active ground floor retail. It will be such a positive addition to the neighborhood and have active uses. It is the last linchpin for that important corner.

This building is very important to me. In 1995, I had my photo taken by the Boston Globe in front of the vacant Alexandra Hotel. The front page of the Business Section announced the support of the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the Boston Redevelopment Authority ( BRA) with City agencies on improving and redeveloping this historic boulevard through Public / Private Partnerships with the City and the State. The study area was from the MA Turnpike to Melnea Cass Blvd from the South End to Lower Roxbury.

At that time, there were 7 acres of vacant parcels, many boarded up buildings and lack of mixed-use housing & ground floor uses. I was appointed by the late Mayor Thomas Menino to chair the Washington Street Task Force as a volunteer with 28 members.This task force was made of residents,public housing tenants, business owners, and non profits along with elected officials. It was the first time for the South End/ Lower Roxbury area worked together on a joint vision for the future development of this neighborhood. In 1997, recommendations by the Task Force were presented to the City and new zoning was adopted which allowed future development to go forward with neighborhood and City support.

Today, over 2000 housing units have been rehabbed & built. Over 60 % of the units are affordable with 125 new ground floor businesses . These uses are retail, restaurants, fast casual food establishments, service businesses, and nonprofits. The street was redeveloped by Private/ Public partnerships with the City & the State with developers, nonprofits and property owners. It truly has been a real success.

Many thanks to Kim Crucioli from The Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services, the Boston Planning & Development Agency staff, the South End Landmarks Commission, City Councilors Michael Flaherty, Frank Baker, and Tania Fernades-Anderson, State Representative Jon Santiago, and shout out to South Enders Bob Minnocci, Steve Fox, Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) and many others for supporting this project.

I can't wait to celebrate and look forward to the ribbon cutting and groundbreaking for the Alexandra Hotel and see another building be redeveloped. Now let's get this built soon!

Sincerely yours,
Randi Grohe Lathrop
Resident of the South End, former Deputy Director of Community Planning at the BRA and presently President & CEO of RG Lathrop Consulting in Boston.
Volunteer board member of
South End Business Alliance (SEBA)