Four bids for city-owned comfort station

This city-owned building on Columbia Road was once a "comfort station" for commuters in Uphams Corner.

Four prospective buyers are vying for what could be the cheapest piece of real estate in the city: a former comfort station on Columbia Road that the city of Boston put on the market this fall. The minimum bid for a successful proposal was set at just $100.

Four private groups have submitted plans to turn the 102-year-old site, shuttered since 1977, into an updated building serving modern needs–all while maintaining the building’s historic character, according to Department of Neighborhood Development. The building was once used as a way station for commuters waiting for trolleys in the bustling Uphams Corner business district.

The proposals range from a local bistro to a daycare center with development costs ranging from $84,500 to $1.1 million. All proposals are privately funded, with costs including necessary rehabilitation to the 1,200 square foot building, which sits adjacent to the Dorchester North Burial Ground on Columbia Road.

Local entrepreneur Noah Hicks, owner of Bowdoin Bike School, partnered with Historic Boston Incorporated and the American City Coalition to propose Bike Kitchen. The full-service bike shop and cafe would serve coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches, and selling refurbished bikes and cycling accessories. Construction is expected to take seven months and cost $1.1 million.

Kevin Kyo, owner of the popular restaurant 224 Boston Street, has proposed creating a neighborhood bistro in the space. The project is expected to cost $200,000 and once proper permits are secured, is expected to take five months to complete. 224 Boston Street is located, as its name suggests, several blocks away from the Columbia Road comfort station.

The two other proposals are a $162,000 daycare center for children between 2 and 5 years old and a grocery store and office space at $84,500.

In mid-January, DND will present the proposals to the community, scoring them based on the community’s interest, and then determine who receives the bid. The comfort station is currently owned by the city of Boston. Its assessed value is $86,200.

“We’ve been working very closely with Uphams Corner Main Streets and the surrounding neighborhood,” said Sheila Dillon, the director of DND who is charged with selecting a new owner for the building. “We’re very excited to have four proposals and we’re hoping this wonderful small building will soon be an important community asset.”

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