Saying that the direction for the rehabilitation of the former Bayside Expo site has been guided in part by meetings last fall with four Dorchester civic groups, the co-founder and CEO of Accordia Partners, which will be redeveloping the site, told members of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association on Monday night that his team and its consultants now understand better what neighbors have in mind for the 20-acre waterfront site.
“We wanted to spend a decent amount of time just listening, hearing what people thought about the site and some of its challenges,” said Richard Galvin. “I thought the charrettes were very helpful and we got all kinds of different views for uses. For us, it has started to evolve into this compilation of parks and open spaces where things might go, etc. … We kind of started to hitch our wagon to some development themes.”
Noting that the Accordia intends to outline its plans with the city’s Planning and Development Agency by the end of this month, Galvin said his team hopes to build a mixed-use project with residential, office space, and labs, becoming a technology hub that would, among other things, present opportunities for jobs for UMass Boston students.
Key themes that emerged from the various meetings, Galvin told the 50 or so attendees on Monday night, included the need to collaborate with city and state authorities to improve surrounding transportation and infrastructure, the creation of parks and public space, the need to make diversity and inclusivity a priority, the urgency of offering housing across a variety of income levels, and the need to develop appropriate branding.
Galvin said that Accordia is in talks with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation about a possible agreement that would allow the team to maintain and improve areas of the Dorchester Harborwalk that surround the development. “We see a wonderful opportunity to make some beautiful public spaces,” he said.
Planning for climate resilience – and ensuring full public access to the waterfront – is a component that Galvin said will also be represented in the project plans. He said that landscape architects will look at how they might create connectivity from what he called “the T to the sea.”
In examining the prospects for the Bayside project, residents have continually noted that the opening of one close-by, large scale-development, the BEAT, on the old Globe site, and the recent emergence of plans for residential towers and commercial interests at 75 Morrissey could bring hundreds, perhaps thousands, of new residents and employees to the area and overburden nearby transportation infrastructure.
Galvin said Accordia is aware of this concern and will work in partnership with other developers as well as the city, state, and other stakeholders – like DCR, the MBTA and MassDOT – to discuss solutions.
“This is a big one,” he said, “enabling key infrastructure improvements. We see the project, and a few others around it, as being able to tip the spear in really dealing with the city, and the state, and other stakeholders to try to make infrastructure improvements happen. I’m talking [Kocsiuzko] K-Circle, I’m talking the T, complete streets off Mount Vernon Street and Morrissey Boulevard.”
District 3 City Councillor Frank Baker, who attended the meeting, said that discussions around infrastructure improvement will be a “long and phased” process, but added that this is the “most headway I’ve ever seen in my life for K-Circle.”
Baker also pointed out that Nordblom Company, the developer of the BEAT, has provided $500,000 in mitigation funds to the city. He said $250,000 of that will go toward a study of infrastructure improvements to JFK/UMass station, specifically pedestrian access to the station and the Sydney St. entrance.
Galvin noted that in addition to Accordia’s 99-year lease of the Bayside property, the company has purchased the nearby 14-acre Santander Bank site. He noted that the BPDA has asked Accordia to work on master planning for that site as well, although the bank has about six years left in its lease.
“We think it’s smart, looking out in the future, that it’s worth doing this now,” said Galvin. Although his team, which is partnering with branding company Proverb, hasn’t yet pinpointed a name for the overall project, he said, “We’re getting there, that’s for sure.”
“You’ll see when we do our actual filing, and we’re hopeful that you all will recognize some of the things that you told us when we submit our project notification form sometime in March,” Galvin said.