Alexandra Hotel to be saved by Church of Scientology

Boston Business Journal/April 15, 2013

By Thomas Grillo

The long wait to restore a historic eyesore at the entrance to Boston's South End and Roxbury neighborhoods could be over.

Three years after listing its regional headquarters in the Back Bay for sale, the Church of Scientology has found a buyer, clearing the way for the church to build a new home at the former Alexandra Hotel. The mostly vacant dilapidated building sits at the corner of Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

Boston developer Dean Stratouly, president of The Congress Group, has agreed to buy the group's original regional headquarters at 448 Beacon St. Details of the transaction have not been disclosed, but the church put the 27,765-square-foot property up for sale at $12.5 million in 2010. Later, when offers for the Richardsonian Romanesque-style mansion fell short of the asking price, church officials lowered the price to $10.5 million. The church paid $440,000 for the once elegant five-story building in 1975.

"It's a gorgeous property and we plan to transform the church's office space into seven luxury condominiums," said Stratouly.

The sale of the church's four-story regional headquarters known for its unique exterior design - with its mixture of tan, brick and red sandstone - is essential to the group's plan to move to Roxbury. The saga began in 2008 when the church paid $4.5 million for the blighted Hotel Alexandra at the corner of Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue with the dream of restoring it. But the cost of transforming the 137-year-old landmark property into the church's office and welcoming center was then estimated at about $17 million, a cost that was out of reach for the nonprofit organization.

"We are closer than ever to beginning construction at the Hotel Alexandra," said Kevin Hall, a church spokesman. "We've modified the building design to make it less expensive while keeping it like the original building, which the Landmark Commission liked."

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