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March 1, 2019

Selection of developer for Bayside property could generate $235 million for UMass Boston

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  • Boston
Long-term lease will bring 10-fold return on 2010 acquisition of property; foretells innovation district at Columbia Point

BOSTON – The UMass Board of Trustees and the UMass Building Authority (UMBA) voted on Thursday to designate Accordia Partners to build a mixed-use urban innovation campus at the site of the former Bayside Expo Center.

The developer selection is the first major milestone in the eventual development of the 20-acre site adjacent to UMass Boston, one of the last remaining developable waterfront parcels in the city.

“This is an enormous opportunity for UMass Boston and the City,” said UMass President Marty Meehan. “In addition to an incredible infusion of revenue for the Boston campus, this development will create opportunities for campus expansion and attract innovation economy companies looking to co-locate and partner with UMass Boston and the Dorchester/South Boston communities.”

Accordia Partners has proposed a mixed use project of up to 3.4 million square feet at the parcel on Columbia Point that would creating a new gateway to UMass Boston and increase connectivity between the campus, the surrounding communities, the MBTA’s JFK/UMass station and the Boston HarborWalk. In accepting the project and the guiding principles of UMass Boston’s Bayside Charretting process, Accordia Partners has committed to a robust stakeholder and community input process to refine a vision for the site.

“We are excited by the opportunity to transform this important site into a gateway to UMass Boston and better connect the campus, the surrounding communities, public transportation and waterfront,” said Kirk A. Sykes, on behalf of Accordia Partners. “We appreciate the thoughtful and deliberative process that UMass has undertaken and share the university’s commitment to innovation, collaboration and access. Our first and most critical step in looking forward will be to launch a process for listening to the many voices interested in this project, including neighbors, the community, and faculty, students and staff of UMass Boston.”

Under the terms of an agreement in principle with UMBA, Accordia Partners will enter into a 99-year ground lease for up to $235 million, with a minimum lease price of $192 million contingent on receipt of necessary approvals. The lease price represents a more than 10-fold return on the university’s 2010 purchase price of $18.7 million. In addition, Accordia Partners has committed to a $25 million investment in related infrastructure improvements.

“This is an incredible return on a strategic investment made by the board eight years ago that will help the university address critical needs at UMass Boston, finally putting to rest some long-term infrastructure issues while creating opportunities for growth and industry collaboration that will be transformative for the campus,” said UMass Board of Trustees Chairman Rob Manning.

Following an 18-month process that began when Meehan requested that UMBA take steps to monetize the property for the benefit of UMass Boston, the boards that govern the university’s real estate transactions heard on Thursday from the advisory group established to guide the selection process and representatives of Newmark Knight Frank, the real estate advisory firm that marketed the site on behalf of the university.

“This was a comprehensive and exhaustive selection and assessment process that resulted in the identification of a development partner with the track record, expertise and resources to successfully deliver a complicated, large-scale project that will complement the university’s long term vision for the Boston campus,” said Victor Woolridge, UMass Trustee and chair of the UMass Building Authority, which oversees the planning, financing, construction and renovation of university facilities.

“We encountered a tremendous amount of interest in the opportunity. The attributes of the site – its scale, location, and transit orientation – coupled with the ability to partner with UMass on a truly transformational development attracted the best and brightest,” said Rob Griffin, Co-Head of U.S. Capital Markets for Newmark Knight Frank. “This high level of interest provoked fierce competition for the site and ultimately enabled UMBA to structure a favorable deal for the system, the Boston campus and the community.”

Woolridge, who is managing director of Barings Real Estate Advisors, served on the advisory working group that made a recommendation to Meehan and the Board of Trustees. The group also included UMass Trustee Charles Wu, a UMass Building Authority Board Member and Managing Director of BayNorth Capital. Other advisory group members included UMass Boston Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman, additional representatives from UMass Boston, as well representatives from UMBA, the UMass President’s Office, and the Boston Planning and Redevelopment Authority.

On behalf of the working group, Newmark Knight Frank had substantive conversations with more than 100 potential developers, eventually conducting diligence on six developers and narrowing the group to two, both of whom were capable of delivering the project. It was the recommendation of the working group to select Accordia Partners based on its superior financial proposal.

In addition to the new revenue stream, the university’s decision to develop the Bayside property is intended to attract business, industry and research partners to co-locate with UMass Boston by becoming tenants in the development, providing potential opportunities for linked research, student internship and co-op opportunities and new housing options for students, faculty and staff.  

“UMass Boston looks forward to exciting synergies with the companies that will join our community at Bayside,” said Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman. “Our students, faculty, and neighbors are excited about the internship, employment and research opportunities that will blossom there. This is a game changer for UMass Boston.”  

Additional information about the project and opportunities for campus and community feedback will be available at https://www.umb.edu/bayside.

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Media Contact: Jeff Cournoyer, 978.935.8521, jcournoyer@umassp.edu

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