Mixed-use building on Mt. Vernon would house rentals, retail

Possible changes and development coming to Columbia Point won’t stop at the boundary of UMass Boston as plans for a new apartment and retail building near the JFK-UMass MBTA station begin to take shape.

Developer Corcoran Jennison Companies have their eye on building a new 184 unit apartment complex at the mouth of Mount Vernon Street and plan to use the building as an urban retail hub and entrance to Columbia Point, a company representative told a group of local residents.

According to the company’s plans, the new building would be built in front the existing Corcoran Jenison office building on Mt. Vernon Street and would create a new corner for the road around the area where it meets Morrissey Blvd. Branded as “University Place,” the building would bring mixed-used development to the area with the addition of several retail storefronts.

Corcoran Jennison project director Sean McReynolds said the city will welcome a project to revamp the space between the MBTA station and the rest of Mt. Vernon Street.

“They view Mt. Vernon Street as this desolate runway,” Reynolds said, later adding that the city wants “to create a more urban look to it.”
McReynolds detailed the plan to members of the McCormack Civic Association’s zoning and development committee earlier this month.

The 184 units would include studio, one and two bedroom rental units with 76 below-grade parking spaces within the building.

“What we’re proposing is less cars on site, more multimodal transportation and to hide the parking,” McReynolds said at the meeting.

McReynolds described the project as the “cornerstone leading down Mt. Vernon Street” toward the Point’s other destinations and said it is in compliance with the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s master plan for the area.

According to Reynolds, the developers will encourage restaurants to move in to some of the retail spaces. Patio spaces will be available for outdoor seating and some of the storefronts themselves will be built with food service in mind.

The plan includes a road giving access to the former Bayside Exposition Center property, which UMass Boston purchased in 2010 and plans to utilize for the University.

The residential portion of the building will feature an indoor/outdoor clubhouse area with shared amenity space and function rooms for residents. Perched on the building’s sixth floor, views of downtown and Boston Harbor could prove appealing to renters.

McReynolds said the branding of the mixed-used complex and the existing office building as “University Place” is a working title that the company talked about with UMass Chancellor Keith Motley. There is no formal agreement with UMass.

“We’re not building dorms and we don’t have any lease agreements with UMass,” McReynolds said.

McReynolds said he expects construction on the building to begin by the end of 2013 or early 2014 if a final plan is approved by authorities.

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