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BOSTON-A 580-unit residential project in the Fenway will finally be able to move forward over a year after it received city approval. Fenway Ventures LLC, a joint venture of Samuels & Associates and Boylston Properties, says an agreement has been signed with an institutional real estate advisor as a joint venture partner in the Residences at Fenway. In addition, Harvard University will purchase 170 of the 580 rental units in the project–a move that the developer says further bolsters the financial viability of the project.

Construction is expected to start this coming spring on the complex, which will include retail space and underground parking. “Both our agreement with our joint venture partner and Harvard University are significant milestones in the project, allowing us to begin construction this spring,” say Steve Samuels and Bill McQuillan of Fenway Ventures. “The sale of a portion of the units makes the development of a large-scale rental project in a somewhat softer leasing market a more secure long-term investment for us and our partner.”

The $200 million Fenway Ventures’ development, which will serve as the anchor for the revitalization of the Boylston Street corridor in the Fenway, will bring residential, retail, restaurants and parking to the 2.2 acres of land at Boylston and Kilmarnock Streets and Brookline Avenue in the Fenway. In addition to the housing, the project includes about 50,000 sf of retail space on the ground floor and underground parking. The 651,000 sf development, approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority last year, will replace what is currently a surface parking lot.

The developers emphasizes that the project will “revitalize upper Boylston Street, creating a symbolic heart of the Fenway neighborhood.” With active street front retail on both Boylston and Brookline Streets, the project, they note, “will enhance the pedestrian environment and create a gateway between the residential and commercial elements of the Fenway.”

As part of the project, nearly 60 units on site will be affordable and an additional $1.5 million contribution will be made to the city’s Neighborhood Housing Fund to create additional affordable housing around the city.

Harvard will use the housing as rental units for graduate and medical students, faculty and professionals who study or work in the Longwood Medical Area. “We expect our full-time medical and graduate students, faculty, and staff will benefit greatly from this new housing opportunity near our campus. By housing more of our people, we can also help relieve pressure on the local housing market,” says Eric Buehrens, executive dean for administration at the Harvard Medical School.

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