On Wednesday, Sept. 23, Bayside Property Owner LLC and Morrissey Property Owner LLC submitted a Project Notification Form regarding the redevelopment of the former Bayside Exposition site to the Boston Planning and Development Agency. Accordia Partners LLC is acting as the developer.
The submission of the Project Notification Form to the BPDA marks significant progress in the project, which is now named “Dorchester Bay City.”
The BPDA website states that the proposed project would include the development of: “approximately 1,740 residential units, approximately 155,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space, and approximately four million square feet of office, research and development, life sciences, and/or academic uses.” Some of the new units will be required to be affordable housing, due to the city’s inclusionary housing policy.
According to the BPDA website, “the Proposed Project also includes substantial public realm and infrastructure improvements, including approximately 20 acres of new, publicly accessible open space and a new street network with vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian accommodations,”
The following day, Thursday, Sept. 24, Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco sent out an email relaying the news.
“The development of Dorchester Bay City represents a significant asset for the future of UMass Boston, which, through the UMass Building Authority, purchased the Bayside site in 2010 for $18.7 million,” wrote Chancellor Suárez-Orozco. “In February 2019 . . . the UMass Building Authority signed a 99-year lease with Accordia Partners to redevelop the site and pay UMass Boston up to $235 million upon successful completion of the project's permitting for the rights to do so . . . These funds will help to continue UMass Boston’s growth and service to the city as Boston’s public research university.”
Chancellor Suárez-Orozco also urged students to attend the first public meeting with the project’s Community Advisory Committee.
“I encourage the campus community to join in the process of reviewing the proposed project and sharing your thoughts, suggestions, and concerns,” wrote Chancellor Suárez-Orozco. “The project holds great potential for UMass Boston and the city of Boston. We should work together to ensure its benefits to our communities and future success.”
The meeting took place via Zoom webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 6 p.m. Members of the CAC—including UMass Boston representative Matt Fenlon, Assistant Chancellor for University Relations—members of the BPDA, members of the Accordia Partners team, and elected officials from the area were all in attendance.
About 70 members of the public were also on the call, however, these attendees automatically had their mics muted and their cameras off.
For the first hour of the meeting, the CAC introduced themselves and their connections to the project. The elected officials and the members of the BPDA on the call also introduced themselves.
Following this, the floor was handed over to Kirk Sykes and Dick Galvin of Accordia Partners, who discussed Accordia Partners’ history on the peninsula, and laid the project out in further detail. Then, members of the CAC offered comments and posed questions.
Members of the BPDA emphasized that this was a Community Advisory Committee meeting that was open to the public, rather than a public forum style meeting.
“That’s a meeting where it’s more oriented to commentary and discussion among members of the public as opposed to tonight, which is more grounded in the CAC discussion,” said BPDA member Ted Schwartzberg of the public meeting.
The BPDA encouraged the public to attend the first public meeting regarding the Dorchester Bay City project. The Kick-Off Public Meeting will occur on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.
Some students at UMass Boston have expressed opinions regarding the Dorchester Bay City Project.
“It’s not something that’ll affect us very directly soon, as the project will take like a decade and I’m not living at Harbor Point for that long,” said an anonymous UMass Boston Sophomore in response to an Instagram story. “But I’m glad they infused UMass Boston with some cash to support itself. It does seem surreal to picture buildings of that scale that close to HP though.”
Undergraduate Student Government Vice President Jaely Pereira also shared her thoughts on the Dorchester Bay City Project via email correspondence.
“This project will not benefit UMass Boston as we were originally told, and intentions show it never has and never will benefit our community,” wrote Vice President Pereira.
Vice President Pereira expressed concerns regarding gentrification caused by Dorchester Bay City.
“As housing prices rise, our beloved community will be pushed out,” wrote Pereira. “The folks in the community, that UMass Boston prides itself on ‘connecting with’, will not be able to afford to live here.”
Vice President Pereira also spoke to concerns regarding parking for commuter students.
“The issue of parking is real,” wrote Pereira. “It was justified to me that a 300-parking spot lot, to be built next to our eventually quad, would be sufficient to replace Bayside, which claims to have 1,300 parking spots.”
Additionally, Vice President Pereira urged students to speak out about potential issues with the project.
“We need to stand together,” wrote Pereira. “Stand together as a student body. Stand together with faculty and staff as a university. We need to stand with and uplift the local community members. We need to show up and speak out on these issues.”
Those who missed the meeting or are looking for more information regarding the Dorchester Bay City project should visit http://www.bostonplans.org/projects/development-projects/dorchester-bay-city.