"Iconic Citgo sign is losing its landlord" by Tim Logan Globe Staff January 21, 2016
A big chunk of a busy Boston neighborhood — and control of one of the city’s best-known landmarks — is on the market.
Boston University said Thursday that it has hired a real estate firm to sell a block of buildings on the northern side of Kenmore Square along Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street, including one that carries the Citgo sign on its roof.
The famous flashing sign, which has served as backdrop to Fenway Park home runs since 1965, is not itself for sale; it’s owned by a sign company that leases air rights atop 660 Beacon St .
But the property sale raises questions about the sign’s future. It is not a protected landmark and BU said there are no conditions included in the terms of the sale, though a university official said he expected it would probably stay put.
Putting the nine buildings up for sale is the final move in a decades-long plan by Boston University to spark redevelopment in the once-grungy square that serves as its front door, a bustling crossroads where it bought up much of the real estate in the 1970s.
Since then, many of the businesses that gave Kenmore its old character have gone — the music clubs and dive bars, the IHOP and the Deli Haus, and, for that matter, the methadone clinic that brought hundreds of addicts to the neighborhood every day. Now there’s a spruced-up T station, destination restaurants such as Eastern Standard, and the block-length Hotel Commonwealth, which just underwent a swanky renovation — all on the southern side of Kenmore Square.
It's called gentrification.
The north side, home to BU’s Barnes & Noble campus bookstore and a hodgepodge of restaurants and storefronts with offices above, is less changed. BU — which would rather focus on education and research than redeveloping Kenmore Square — wants a new owner to finish the job, said Gary Nicksa, BU senior vice president for operations.
The properties could easily fetch tens of millions of dollars. The market for office buildings in Boston — including smaller, second-tier buildings such as these — has been strong of late. That hot market helped push BU to sell now, Nicksa said, after considering a sale several times in recent years....