Boston University has found a buyer for its properties in Kenmore Square, one of which serves as the pedestal for the city’s iconic Citgo Sign.
BU announced Friday it has struck a deal with local developer Related Beal for its nine properties along Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street. Both parties have remained tight-lipped about the sale.
“We are thrilled to be selected to re-imagine these key parcels,” Related president Kimberly Sherman Stamler said in a statement. “This significant location serves as a vital connection between Fenway, the Back Bay and Brookline.”
The Citgo sign’s future has been in doubt ever since BU put 660 Comm. Ave. up for sale in January. A petition to save the 51-year-old sign prompted the Boston Landmarks Commission to grant it temporary landmark status while a report is prepared. Approval from Mayor Marty Walsh would be the last step toward full landmark protection.
BU has repeatedly said it cannot require the new owner to keep the Citgo sign untouched, and any prospective buyer would likely want to build higher, development experts told the Globe.
“There are lots of ways to adaptively reuse buildings and come up with viable economic solutions that don’t require tearing them down and turning a five-, six-story building into a 30-story building,” says Greg Galer, executive director of the nonprofit Boston Preservation Alliance. “Unfortunately, there’s this common misconception, maybe too common, that the only way to have a viable project is to go big and tall, and destroy the historic character of the buildings.”
The Landmarks Commission’s report is expected later this year.
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