Robots, bio-tech and beer.
That’s the boiled down, Twitter-friendly summary of what the buyers of the Boston Globe property have in mind for the 16.5-acre Morrissey site.
Neighbors who turned out for Monday’s Columbia-Savin Hill Civic meeting— where a representative of Nordblom Co. offered the first public word of the plan— were enthusiastic, according to the Reporter’s Jennifer Smith, who was first to report the news on Tuesday.
Nordblom, he said, would work with the existing Globe buildings— not tear them down and start fresh. The space, he said, can be converted into labs and manufacturing space for Kendall Square-style, high-tech jobs. Surprisingly, the plan calls for no housing units at all, a departure from what was originally envisioned in a Master Plan document created under the Menino administration. There would likely be a restaurant— branded as a brewery in the Nordblom first-draft— but not much else in terms of public amenities inside the buildings.
But, there is the promise of improvements to the perimeter of the Globe site, which includes waterfront trails along Patten’s Cove, a marshy inlet of Dorchester Bay. The early Nordblom plan offers the promise of improving the green space along the cove— and of creating new open space on the site for shared use. That’s a big improvement over the fenced-off asphalt now being used for UMass Boston parking overflow.
There are several mitigating factors to consider:
• First, this is not a done deal. Nordblom does not yet control the Globe property. It’s “under agreement” and Nordblom seems bullish on the prospect of consummating the deal, perhaps as soon as next month. Still, two earlier buyers backed out of purchasing the site for unknown reasons. (The more recent of those two suitors— Center Court— now owns the adjacent, empty TV studio building that auto magnate Herb Chambers sold off earlier this year. How that site might figure into the Nordblom plan was not discussed at Monday’s meeting.)
• We do not know the sale price. One of the earlier agreements between Globe owner John Henry and Center Court was reportedly valued at more than $80 million. We don’t know the agreed upon price of this Globe-Nordblom deal— but it’s likely to be in the same range.
• The notion of creating a hub of biotech and life science industry in this part of the city is not a new concept. In 2014, a “Life Sciences Corridor” initiative was rolled out, using the Red Line as its common thread. The idea is to encourage Kendall Square-style industry to spread out through Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, and points south along the rail line. The Globe site fits nicely into the rubric. And, if this idea does cement into an actual project over the coming months, it’s likely to spur similar high-tech job creation nearby.
Glover’s Corner— the nearby section of Dorchester just one T stop away from the Globe site — is now being scoped out by investors and the BPDA for this sort of potential re-use. Imagine a life sciences corridor that ripples from Columbia Point to Fields Corner, reinvigorating business and transit nodes along the way.
That’s the promise of this Globe sale. It’s a linchpin property, and not just because of its location and history. This can be a transformative project for a neighborhood that is ready for it.