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Boylston Street stretch would gain five stories but keep historic facades in proposed project

New Developments News Back Bay
A rendering of the proposed project at 761-793 Boylston St.
A rendering of the proposed project at 761-793 Boylston St. Elkus Manfredi Architects via Boston Planning and Development Agency

Three buildings along Boylston Street in the Back Bay would get a boost of five stories for office, retail, and residential space under a proposed project that would also hold onto the row’s historic facade.

Plans filed with the Boston Planning & Development Agency for 761-793 Boylston St. in March outline a vision for the new space above the current locations of Crate & Barrel, Atlantic Fish Co., and Abe & Louie’s — each the ground floor tenants of the existing three three-story buildings.

The project, proposed by Travistock Development Co., calls for overhauling the interior of the Crate & Barrel location (the middle of the three) and reconfiguring it to form the base of the upward addition, plans indicate.

When complete, the building will boast 88,000 square feet with a height of 90 feet and nine residential units. Project representatives said the building will not require zoning exemptions.

The other two buildings will essentially be preserved exactly as they are now, David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi Architects told the project’s Impact Advisory Group, or IAG, last week.

“These are beautiful buildings at the base, and we want to be very respectful, we want to be very deferential,” Manfredi said at a separate BPDA meeting Monday. “And we clearly want to be the next generation of building, meaning … we don’t want to imitate, we can’t imitate, the detail of those existing buildings.”

Manfredi told the IAG that the developers initially “looked at whole series of different alternatives.”

“What we will present … is a version that I think is most notable for its strategy,” he added.

The development would include 15,830 square feet of retail space, 25,720 square feet of office space, and nine residential units consisting of a total of 18,600 square feet, with three units per floor, according to plans.

The exterior of the building will consist of terra cotta and glass, according to Manfredi.

The project is expected to have “only a minimal impact to the area’s peak period traffic operations, transportation network, and infrastructure,” the project notification form says.

While no parking will be provided onsite, Christopher Souza, senior director of northeast developments at Tavistock, said the company is working to figure out a valet service for residential parking.

Developers intend to keep both restaurants open during and after construction, Souza said.

The space between the two, where Crate & Barrel currently exists, could eventually accommodate a restaurant, with room for outdoor seating, Manfredi said.

The project is anticipated to take 16 to 20 months to complete, according to Souza.

Project representatives on Monday touted the plan’s environmental sustainability components, including low-flow and -flush water fixtures, an electric cooling and heating system, and a reduced window-to-wall ratio based on feedback from the IAG.

“There’s an existing building and a new structure on top of it, but we’re reusing that existing structure and because of that, we are reducing our embodied carbon for the project,” Alana Spencer of Vanderweil Engineers said Monday.

Last week, Meg Mainzer-Cohen, an IAG member who is also president and executive director of the Back Bay Association, said that overall, the building would fit in well in the area.

“This is one of the most ambitious projects I’ve seen because it’s not a demolition and it’s not a façade-ectomy,” she said. “It’s really maintaining the uses, and it is creating, I think, a really vibrant upper few stories.”

The BPDA is accepting public comments on the proposal through May 14.

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