Bayside deal finalized with $235 million long term lease

An aerial view of the Bayside site from earlier marketing materials.

Developers of the former Bayside Exposition Center site finalized their agreement to lease the 20-acre site, signing a 99-year ground lease for the UMass Boston property with an expected value of $235 million.

Accordia Partners and their capital partner Ares Management Corporation announced the deal on Tuesday morning, planning for up to 3.4 million square feet of mixed-use development. The team was selected as the winning bid for the prime waterfront land on Columbia Point in February.

“We appreciate the commitment that Accordia and Ares have demonstrated by agreeing to lease terms that maximize the present value return to UMass and for being willing to invest in complementary off-site infrastructure,” said Victor Woolridge, Chair of The University of Massachusetts Building Authority, which oversees the planning, financing, construction, and renovation of university facilities.

As to the revenue generated by the university through the long-term ground lease, it is restricted to qualified capital projects approved by the UMass Board of Trustees through its established capital planning process. Officials say this is because the university’s acquisition of the property in 2010 used tax-exempt bonds.

University officials praised the agreement in statements Tuesday, with system president Marty Meehan highlighting the windfall of revenue "to fund the long-term goals of the campus," and interim UMass Boston Chancellor Katherine Newman adding that it takes the campus "one giant step closer to bringing new private sector research partners, internship providers, and job opportunities in construction, retail and services to Columbia Point."

UMass Boston is embarking on a new permanent chancellorship search, Meehan announced in May.

The team's winning bid envisioned the area as a mixed-use hub of retail, work and research space space, housing, or other elements to create a bustling tip of the point. Bayside sits at a critical inflection point for the Dorchester/South Boston border, buttressed by oft-flooded state roadways and with a nearby transit access point in JFK/UMass that was the site of a derailment that caused a system-wide meltdown a few weeks ago.

Accordia's initial bid included $25 million in "infrastructure commitments." Sykes said in February that “We view the $25 million as a down-payment on creating a public private partnership that will source other state funds. There’ll be a lot of focus in coming months.”

The team has been involved in stakeholder conversations with several other major private entities in the Mt. Vernon Street and Morrissey Boulevard area since then.

Withe the lease signed, Accordia will begin "a robust stakeholder and community input process to refine the vision for the development," according to the release.

“We are excited to have reached this important milestone, which will allow us to begin the next phase and launch a process for listening to the many voices interested in this project, including neighbors, the community, and students, faculty and staff at UMass Boston,” said Kirk Sykes and Dick Galvin of Accordia Partners. “A robust community engagement process is critical first step in creating a dynamic new gateway to the entire peninsula and increase connectivity between the UMass Boston campus, the surrounding communities, the MBTA’s JFK/UMass station and the Boston HarborWalk. We look forward to engaging with the community and determining how the project can create shared benefits.”

The transaction will be closed and the funds exchanged after about two years, the development team expects, after Accordia and Ares receive all necessary regulatory approvals.