UMass officials this week asked developers for feedback about a potential mixed use development designed to transform a 20-acre parcel near the university's Dorchester campus into a destination on par with Harvard Square or the MIT Volpe Center area.
The so-called Bayside property at Columbia Point is three miles from downtown Boston, 2,000 feet from the JFK-UMass Red Line station, and offers access to Carson Beach in South Boston through the adjacent Dorchester Shores Reservation and Joe Moakley Park.
"Undeveloped sites of the size of the Bayside Property in the Boston metro area are rare and may allow a developer significant pricing power," the UMass Building Authority wrote in its request for information, which was issued on Tuesday. Developers are asked to respond by Oct. 6.
The site formerly hosted the Bayside Expo Center, which the authority demolished in 2016.
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Building authority officials are touting the prospects for public-private sector collaboration, promoting the potential availability of tax credits and even access to parcels that UMass Boston, which itself is being reconstructed and expanded, may acquire in the future.
The university's Boston campus has run into fiscal problems amidst its expansion, with campus leadership currently trying to recover from budget imbalances. In the request for information, officials emphasize the importance of maximizing the economic value to the university of the parcel's redevelopment, and allowing for the integration of UMass Boston facilities.
A UMass Boston master planning document laying out a long-term vision for the campus includes plans to use the Bayside property for further development of university facilities, including 1.5 million gross square feet of academic facilities, 2,200 parking spaces, and 3,000 student housing units.
Partnership options may be available with nearby property owners, according to authority documents, including the Corcoran Office Building, DoubleTree Hotel, Beacon Capital, the city of Boston, the Archdiocese of Boston, the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boys and Girls Club of Boston, and Boston College High School. A Boston Teachers Union property covers 2.7 acres on the Bayside property.
In addressing potential developers, UMass officials have specific local destinations in mind as they envision the future of the site, writing that they hope to develop the property "into a modern-day Harvard Square, New Balance/Boston Landing, Kenmore Square, MIT Volpe Center."
In May 2010, the building authority purchased the Bayside property for $18.7 million from LNR Partners, Inc. It has mostly been used since then to meet the parking needs at UMass Boston while its campus undergoes significant construction activity.
The RFI process is being used by UMass to determine "the highest and best use of a property," according to a senior aide to UMass President Martin Meehan. The preliminary step is not binding and developers are being asked to consider UMass Boston's Bayside Charretting Process, the Columbia Point Master Plan and the UMass Boston Master Plan. The responses could lead to requests for development proposals.