The University of Massachusetts Boston has hired a real estate agent to seek buyers of the campus’ Bayside Expo Center. The Bayside Expo site is a 20-acre oceanfront property that could bring the school $200 million.
According to University of Massachusetts (UMass) Vice President of Communications Jeff Cournoyer, the money would be used to repair a substructure on UMass Boston’s campus, “which could cost $150 million or more,” he told WBUR.
UMass Boston initially bought the property in 2010 for $18 million and had been using it as a parking garage until summer of 2015. At the time, it was demolished and the University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA) issued a Request For Information (RFI) to potential real estate developers a year later. The university, in return, received overwhelming responses from 16 major development companies in Boston and abroad. Some of those companies included Beacon Capital Partners, American Campus Communities, Capstone Development Partners LLC, and Samuels & Associates, Cournoyer told The Mass Media in an email. The Capstone Development Partners is now the university’s partner in constructing the awaited Residence Halls, which are expected to open next fall.
"The $150 million is needed for the Science Building’s crumbling garage on UMass Boston’s campus. We want to maximize the value of this,” Meehan said. “UMass Boston students cannot afford to invest $150 million to fix that [garage],” Meehan told The Boston Globe on Jan. 24.
According to the Globe, the respondents for the Expo site’s bid include several student housing developers, global firm Skanska and LanLease, and local real estate developers like Drew Co.
Rob Griffin from real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank is currently handling the deal for UMass. “We’re looking for the best partner and the best outcome for UMass that we can find,” Griffin told the Globe.
In 2010, university officials initially talked about using the site potentially as a “new Harvard Square” or Kenmore Square. Last fall, in height of conversations about Bayside, ideas of using the space for the Olympic Athlete’s Village fell short when Boston dropped its bid for the 2024 summer Olympics.
President of UMass Boston’s Professional Staff Union, Tom Goodkind, told WBUR, "It would seem a little ironic to me to have UMass Boston—which we call the 'diversity flagship of the UMass system'—turn over its land to a new Harvard Square."
A UMass Boston student who wanted to remain anonymous told The Mass Media that the situation is not ideal. “If we bought it and now it’s for sale, it just means that we don’t have enough money,” the student said. “It’s not ideal but [the university] is going to lose more money in the long run and students are not going to stop coming,” added the student.
The student explained that on the other hand, if the Bayside Expo Center was utilized as a space for retail, offices, businesses, and an entertainment field, it could push some Bostonians out.
“It would be great for the students, I guess not for the city of Boston overall because of gentrification and people in Dorchester getting pushed out, it doesn’t help the city in the long run because more rich people would come here,” the student added.