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Red Sox, WS Development Advance Fenway Rebuilding Plans Off The Field

The Red Sox Team Store at 19 Jersey St., formerly Yawkey Way.

The joint venture behind a transformative plan for the Fenway Park neighborhood is taking the first step toward its reality.

The Boston Red Sox, developer WS Development and the D’Angelo family, owners of nearby properties, have filed a letter of intent with the city for 2.1M SF of mixed-use development near Fenway Park. The LOI posted to the Boston Planning and Development Agency briefly covers plans for 8 acres of development across eight buildings near the ballpark and includes air rights above the Massachusetts Turnpike.

“This is the first small step on a journey to transform the public experience around the ballpark,” WS Development Senior Vice President of Development Yanni Tsipis said in a statement.

Fenway Sports Group, the Red Sox’s corporate arm in the joint venture, deferred comment to WS Development.

The developers didn't include in their LOI how much of the 2.1M SF will be dedicated to residential, commercial or retail spaces. Some of the addresses in the plans are home to storefronts, while the Brookline stretch is currently home to a fitness center and martial arts gym.

The project would make Jersey Street along the Fenway Park gate a permanent pedestrian zone and connect Boylston Street to Brookline Avenue by expanding the nearby Richard B. Ross Way. The changes would open 30K SF of open public space for pedestrians after completion of the Ross Way shortcut, the developers wrote in the LOI. 

The plans, initially announced in October, are the latest in the growing trend of baseball teams entering the real estate market. The project also comes at a tenuous time for the Red Sox, which suffered more than $100M in losses after a last-place finish in a shortened season without fans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The joint venture, known as WS Fenway-Twins Realty Venture LLC, secured the sites in November, according to Suffolk County land records. The properties, on Van Ness Street, Jersey Street, Brookline Avenue and Lansdowne Street, are largely owned by the D’Angelo family, who operate the Red Sox team store and the Boston-based 47 Brand of sports apparel. The Red Sox are putting up their own properties in the project, including a surface lot and two other sites purchased for a combined $13M in the past decade.

The ballpark's surrounding blocks stand in stark contrast to the shiny development blocks away featuring modern residential towers, restaurants and new shops. Lab developers have also invested more than $1B into the stretch of Brookline.

WS Fenway has pledged to restore historical facades at sites near the ballpark, in a move that could give a face-lift to the aging retail and restaurant structures in the ring around the park. FSG is also constructing a 5,000-seat performance venue at a vacant lot beyond the stadium’s right field grandstands.