The Changing Face of Fenway

Some things never change, like the "Fenway Faithful" and their passion for the Red Sox.

But since the Red Sox last played in the World Series five years ago, so much around the ballpark is now unrecognizable.

"This neighborhood used to be bunch of mechanics and gasoline stations. And look at it now," said Sal Dozens.

There are brand new stores, restaurants and buildings, including the Pierce, a magnificent luxury condominium complex finished earlier this year. It's the crown jewel in Steven Samuels' real estate empire.

"Trilogy was the first building we built when we came to the Fenway," said Samuels.

Samuels and his partners and investors have become the most prolific developers of commercial and residential real estate in the Fens, owning 16 properties like the Verb Hotel, the Van Ness building that houses Target, and the Landmark Center that used to be Sears.

"The more people recognize what a great neighborhood the Fenway is, the better it is for all of us," Samuels said.

And they're only halfway through on their vision to turn Fenway into one of Boston's premier destinations, attracting baseball fans, tourists and a new class of Bostonians.

"The companies that we've leased to in the Fenway have created over 3,000 new jobs," said Samuels.

However, like most games, there are winners and losers. Rich Giordano of the Fenway Community Development Corporation is down a few runs in the bottom of the ninth.

"Rents continue to escalate," said Giordano.

His social service agency is fighting for the limited affordable housing stock remaining in the area. Giordano says this building boom has thrown a curve ball at the neighbors he serves.

"We certainly haven't added as many units, or proportionately as many units as the luxury and the high end," said Girodano.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency remains the gate keeper, green lighting or rejecting projects. No one there would answer our questions or comment for this story. But Mayor Marty Walsh says he's aware of the housing dynamics.

"And we're focusing across the city, not just on one particular area," Walsh explained.

Catherine Carlock of the Boston Business Journal says with all this change, the identity of Fenway beyond the ballpark is now up for grabs.

"They want to lease to the young professional, and the baby boomer who's downsizing," Carlock said.

The pace of development and the views from the Pierce are breathtaking, but Samuels says success will ultimately be measured on how they move forward with all the community stake holders.

"We feel quite responsible for making sure that it comes out right, and that it becomes a neighborhood of great balance, great diversity," said Samuels.

The Red Sox also recently announced its Fenway 3.0 initiative to develop real estate in this area, but those details are still being worked out.

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