The next big steps for the team that was selected last week by the University of Massachusetts to lead the redevelopment of the former Bayside Expo grounds on Columbia Point in Dorchester: Negotiate and sign a final lease and expedite a “Strong stakeholder and community contribution process” to showcase future uses of the highly valued waterfront property.
The UMass board of directors and the UMass Building Authority voted unanimously last Thursday to approve the recommendation of an Accordia Partners research team, led by Boston real estate executives and financiers, Richard Galvin and Kirk Sykes, as the developer of a deal that could bring the university up to $ 235 million over time, according to people familiar with the financial data.
The nomination came after an 18-month bidding process that reduced the number of interested developers to a pool of six and then two finalists.
Sources familiar with the process say the Galvin-Sykes deal was chosen because it offered the strongest financial plan to pay for a 99-year land lease. The group also brings to the table a diverse group of investors and includes the option for UMass Boston to elect to lease a portion of the 20-acre site for its own future use. Their initial offering also includes $ 25 million in “infrastructure commitments,” which the development team says is a first step towards creating a public-private money pool to target various congestion points and transit centers near the point.
There is not yet a concrete redevelopment plan in place at this point in the process. The Galvin-Sykes team will lead community engagement in a planning process that will likely begin this year. Officials who briefed the reporter on the contents of their winning proposal last week said it would include a mix of uses, including housing, office or labs, retail and dining options, and the possibility for UMass to use part of the site.
UMass acquired the former Bayside Expo Center in 2010 for $ 18.7 million after its former owners confiscated the site in a foreclosure during the 2008-09 recession. Since then, the university has mainly used the waterfront land for parking at its Dorchester campus. The property was briefly included in Boston’s 2024 failed bid to bring the Summer Olympics to the city. When that offer was dropped, Robert Kraft’s sports group entered closed-door talks with UMass to lease the site and build a professional football stadium at the site. This plan was scuttled amid the negative reluctance of elected officials and scorers.
The first indications of the main lines of this new agreement with the partners of Galvin-Sykes are that UMass will make much more money in this transaction, while reserving the right to use part of the Bayside plot for its own. future use.
Galvin is the founder, CEO and president of CV Properties, LLC, which has “developed and acquired over 4.5 million square feet of office and residential projects valued at $ 2.5 billion,” according to the website of his company. Recent projects in Boston include the D Street hotels next to the Massachusetts Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston; and 451 D Street, a nine-story office building in South Boston.
Sykes is senior vice president of New Boston Real Estate Investment Funds. Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, he is chairman of Urban Strategy American Fund, LP, specializing in “the creation of mixed-use urban developments.”
State Senator Nick Collins, who had urged UMass officials to seek a wide range of proposals from the wider development community in 2017, said last week that he was pleased with the new direction and developer choice.
“Today marks the next step in a process that the community, elected officials and officials of UMass have worked hard to initiate,” said Collins. “The open bidding process for Bayside has resulted in great teams competing for a chance to partner with UMass to create something special on Dorchester Bay. “
Robert Griffin, co-head of US capital markets for Newmark Knight Frank, the commercial real estate company hired by the UMass Building Authority to find a suitable private partner for Bayside, said there was a strong appeal for the site.
“We had a lot of people interested,” he told The Reporter. “Most markets saw this as some sort of next type of seaport, given the proximity to the Red Line, eight minutes from Kendall Square, a market with no vacancies right now in laboratories and offices in Cambridge – and Longwood Medical Center. region, same thing.
Griffin added, “At the end of the day we had six very serious contenders and we brought it down to two. Most people were focusing on something that would bring credit to the neighborhood, to the school, to the community, hoping to have a plan that would attract the kind of talent that would provide jobs to the area. Jobs for students at UMass, internships and maybe something that would synergize with the programs there, be it the wonderful nursing school they have or something in the life sciences, because there are so many of these kinds of requirements right now. “
Some ‘head office’ type companies have been reviewing the site, Griffin said, many with lab and tech space in mind, but Bayside’s mixed use potential has peaked.
Michael Byrne, executive general manager of Newmark’s Knight Frank office in Boston, said the UMass Boston campus is a priority for soliciting community feedback.
“In the third round, we actually had the chancellor [Katherine] Newman provides his vision as a sort of mission statement for developers to help guide their work and refine their pricing, ”he said. “So throughout the process, the needs of the campus were brought to the fore and the ability to relate to them.”
UMass spokesman Jeff Cournoyer said that “the process of visualizing exactly what the mix will be” on the site is yet to come. “
The advisory group, led by UMass Building Authority chairman Victor Woolridge, a seasoned real estate executive, worked with Newmark to select the developer. In doing so, they looped through every local elected official and met with both the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association and the John W. McCormack Civic Association throughout the process, Cournoyer said. Columbia Point’s existing master plan was also considered in the selection.
“It will really be up to the developer to work through a complete and robust community process from a design perspective,” Byrne said. “From a campus engagement perspective, we can definitely talk about campus rights in the future…. Simply put, the campus will retain as many rights as possible over future opportunities to develop on its own – for housing or for other academic needs in the future.
Details were slim last week, but the team said the terms were for a 99-year ground lease for the Bayside site. on campus and at university from a financial standpoint, ”Cournoyer said. “There were other elements taken into consideration, of course: the feasibility of making this project happen, the commitment to this stakeholder process and the community contribution process that we discussed, the diversity and hiring practices and vendors and suppliers, etc. “
Infrastructure commitments also played an important role. The winning group “went out of their way to make a specific infrastructure commitment,” he said. “We all know it takes real money spending to help solve some of these connectivity issues between the hotline and campus, whether it’s a new gateway or rather and [Kosziusko] Circle too.
City Councilor Frank Baker, whose district includes the Columbia Point campus, was thrilled by the news. “This could potentially unblock the transportation issues we’ve had for years, while also putting UMass on a solid financial footing to plan for the future of the campus,” he told The Reporter. “For me that’s one of the big things. The campus will be great, we will be able to walk there, our children will have access to vocational training and internships, but transportation is important.
Also heard on campus last week: Voices were raised against the Bayside deal.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Staff Faculty Union at UMass Boston expressed disapproval, citing concerns about the rise in parking fees and last year’s UMass Amherst maneuver to buy Mount Ida College in Newton. , which many on the Boston campus see as undermining the Dorchester campus.
“The Mount Ida deal was done behind closed doors, and we see a similar lack of transparency with the plans for the Bayside lot,” said Marlene Kim, president of the Staff Faculty Union. “Students, staff and faculty have had no influence on major decisions affecting our campus. “
It is still unclear exactly what type of public review process will accompany the redevelopment project. Since the university owns the site, it will likely remain exempt from the typical large-project review run by the city’s Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).
In an interview with The Reporter last year, BPDA director Brian Golden expressed confidence that UMass and its development partner will include the city in their efforts to plan what he called a “mammoth” plot. with “enormous potential”.