January 10, 2020
The University of Massachusetts Building Authority today issued a Request for Information (RFI) to seek a private developer for the historic Calf Pasture Pumping Station and an adjacent site on Columbia Point. The ten-acres are the latest section of the UMass Boston campus offered for redevelopment by the UMBA, which last year agreed to lease the 20 acre Bayside section of its campus, a deal that could yield the university as much as $235 million.
The RFI issued today is meant to measure interest in a “mixed-use” project that would also require the restoration of the 1883 pumping station, which is listed on the Register of Historic Places and cannot be torn down. In the document, the UMBA says the restored pump building would remain a UMass Boston building for “exclusive use by UMass Boston,” leaving the rest of the parcels available for “complementary use.”
“UMBA/UMass Boston view the [site] as an opportunity to… create a vibrant mixed-use destination that is integrated within the greater [u]niversity campus and neighborhood,” the RFI reads. It also notes that the 10 acres is located within an “opportunity zone,” which offers tax incentives for investors. The university hopes to “maximize the economic value to UMass Boston through a contract/agreement not to exceed 99-years in length.”
In a section of the RFI entitled “UMass Project Vision,” the document says that “UMass Boston envisions a mixed-use destination that compliments the campus as a whole. A development should present an opportunity that optimizes its value and creates an oceanfront Boston area that supports academic and research endeavors, with the Calf Pasture Pumping Station to be redeveloped for exclusive use by UMass Boston and serving as a new “front door” to the UMass Boston campus. With the reimagined Mt. Vernon Street as a main artery running from the Red Line, Mt. Vernon Street will become a grand boulevard. Then the Calf Pasture Pumping Station will mark the campus end of the avenue and provide visitors to the campus with a stunning structure as an introduction.”
Possible site uses, as outlined in the RFI, could include “a new admissions center, complete with a fixed-seat theater that could be used to launch tours and be the locus of film programs on the weekends. The central hall could be a prime event space for the campus, providing opportunities for student programming, dances, community events, events and other large-scale gatherings. Student government and student organizations would have a wonderful home in this building. It would also be an ideal location for the Chancellor, Provost, Advancement and other university administration.”
The RFI issued today asks interested developers to submit a response by Feb. 19. From there, UMBA says it “may decide to develop a short-list of qualified respondents.”