When you walk down Commonwealth Ave. toward Cleveland Circle, everything seems to be in motion. The T rushes down the middle of the road past the looming apartment buildings, and if you stand still in the middle of the sidewalk for too long, you will almost certainly get jostled by a determined runner. Amid the continuous bustle, however, stand two buildings that somehow seem silent.
Across the street from the Reservoir T stop, two nondescript buildings provide a background for the highly trafficked corner. The first is a large, white structure with visibly empty rooms behind large glass windows. The second is a small, brown structure that continuously totes an empty parking lot. Both are completely exempt from any turmoil whatsoever, but will soon re-enter the Cleveland Circle commotion.
National Development, in a joint venture with Boston Development Group, has stepped in with plans to completely renovate the buildings that were once the Cleveland Circle Cinema and its neighbor, Applebee’s, into a hotel and senior housing community.
The cinema, which opened in the 1940s and was renovated in the 1960s, closed nine years ago after over 60 years in business, while the Applebee’s closed this past summer. Despite the flickering lights peeking out through the grimy windows, both buildings are completely vacant, and slowly deteriorating under the harsh Boston climate.
The first structure will be a modern five-story hotel with 162 rooms, although exactly which hotel chain it will become has yet to be announced. The second building will be a six-story luxury senior housing community with 92 apartments overlooking the neighboring Cassidy Park. Modeled after a similar facility in Wellesley, Mass., the development will be called the “Waterstone at the Circle.” Both buildings will also contain retail spaces—also to be announced at a later date—and will be connected by a European style piazza.
On the 2.14 acres that the two decrepit buildings currently occupy, 0.42 of which is located in the Brookline community, National Development plans to construct two buildings grossing 213,329 square feet in floor space.
Both buildings will comply with Article 37, Green Buildings, of the Boston Zoning Code, and will also use the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system to ensure the buildings promote sustainability.
After undergoing a rigorous permitting process through both Boston and Brookline community regulations, the project is finally fully permitted and has scheduled the demolition of the site some point later this year.
Ted Tye, a managing partner with National Development, hopes that the “iconic project” will help signify “some good change in Cleveland Circle.” Tye explained that the new developments will create a “strong project in hope that as other sites in the area are developed they will follow in suit.”
Tye said the project will benefit the community not only because of the renewed energy and revenue it will bring to the area, but also because of the 100 full- and part-time jobs that will come to the community during and after construction.
Much to the delight of the Cleveland Circle residents, the iconic circle sign that still sits on the building—which Tye calls “the Cleveland Circle Citgo sign”—will be restored and replaced on the finished structure, allowing the modern structure to retain some of its history and character.
After a construction period of about 18 months, the building that was once the Cleveland Circle Cinema will soon be filled with people and rejoin the bustle of its neighborhood once again. Despite the renovations, one will still be able to look toward the glowing sign on the roof and be reminded of the building’s humble past among the commotion that surrounds it.
Featured Images by Madeleine D’Angelo / For The Heights