October 13, 2017
The UMass Building Authority has received 16 responses to its Request For Information (RFI) regarding the prominent Bayside parcel on Columbia Point, university officials said Friday. Several developers are already actively involved in real estate around the Point, which in recent years has become an area of dramatic development speculation.
As first reported in the Reporter in August, the state university’s building arm sought ideas from developers on the best use for the 20-acre site on prime waterfront land. The public, non-binding RFI asked for mixed-used “destination” concepts along the lines of a “modern-day Harvard Square, New Balance/Boston Landing, Kenmore Square, MIT Volpe Center, etc.”
Any development would ideally create “an oceanfront Boston neighborhood” that melds with campus needs and the broader Columbia Point area, a “gateway to UMass Boston,” according to the RFI. Responses were submitted by Oct. 6.
According to a UMass spokesperson, the concepts are "considered part of a deliberative process at this point" and still need analysis, but generally include proposals consistent with the RFI's mixed-use concept. Some developers slanted more heavily toward specific areas of housing, retail, office space, academic use, and the like.
A number of the 16 respondents are familiar names on the Point. Corcoran Jennison owns the adjacent office building and DoubleTree hotel. Beacon Capital Partners purchased the nearby 12-acre Santander property in March. Capstone Development Partners is already working with the university on its first ever dormitories on Boston campus.
“The number of developers who chose to participate in the RFI for the Bayside property affirms that there is strong interest from the real estate community in the site,” UMass President Marty Meehan said in a statement. “That is good news, because as fiduciaries the university and UMBA have a responsibility to maximize the revenue potential of any development for the purpose of addressing significant capital needs on the UMass Boston campus.”
UMBA hopes to leverage public-private partnerships toward the massive mixed-use project. The RFI was an early step in the process, the next being to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP).
The University of Massachusetts acquired the parcel in 2010. It asked developers to consider work done prior to and after that sale, including the UMass Boston's Bayside Charretting Process, the Columbia Point Master Plan, and the UMass Boston Master Plan, each of which considered ambitious potential development on the site.
This process marks a departure from prior discussions on the site, where a Kraft-backed proposal to construct a 20,000-seat soccer stadium was met with dismay from community and elected leaders kept in the dark during early development conversations.
The full list of respondents comprises: Accordia Partners; American Campus Communities; Beacon Capital Partners; Bracken Development; Capstone Development Partners LLC & Samuels & Associates; Corcoran Jennison & BTUHWF Building Corp; Core Investment Inc.; Hunt Development Group, LLC & Drew Company Inc.; The HYM Investment Group, LLC; LendLease; Lincoln Property Company; Lupoli Companies; Rhino Capital & Ad Meliora; SKANSKA; University Student Living; and Waterstone Properties Group Inc.