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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bayside Expo Site in Question

Bayside Expo Site in Question

The Bayside Expo Center, located at 200 Mt. Vernon St., was once a convention center and a mall in the 1960s. In 2010, the University of Massachusetts Boston decided to purchase the property for $18.7 million as a potential space to expand the campus. Most recently, according to Jeff Cournoyer, UMass Boston’s spokesman and vice president of communications, the Bayside lot has been used for parking.

To determine the best use for the Bayside property, the UMass Building Authority (UMBA) submitted a Request for Information (RFI) on August 8.

The RFI document by UMass officials stated its vision:, “…through [UMBA], UMass wishes to engage a Developer to conceptualize a vision to transform the Bayside Property into a modern-day Harvard Square, New Balance/Boston Landing, Kenmore Square, MIT Volpe Center etc.”

The RFI document also listed a number of reasons why the Bayside property could benefit campus life at UMass Boston. One of the reasons included was Bayside’s proximity to downtown Boston as the property, in addition, is also close to “one of the highest-value real estate markets in the country.”

Another reason listed was local partnerships UMass Boston could foster  in the future, including the Boys & Girls Club, Commonwealth Massachusetts, and Boston College High School.

As  an oceanfront campus and the only public research university in Boston, UMass Boston, along with the possible possession of the Bayside lot, aspires to be “an oceanfront Boston neighborhood with academic, research, retail, residential, dining, entertainment and cultural uses, serving as a new gateway to UMass Boston and distinguish the University in the higher education marketplace…”

Maximizing the university’s economic value is one of its main objective goals as stated in the RFI. The University is also planning on using the Bayside property as an extensive walkway to the Harborwalk. Considering the construction based on UMass Boston’s Master Plan, the University also sees a potential for using Bayside as a means for improving transportation. In the RFI, UMass Boston also stated the possibility of using Bayside for bike and pedestrian lanes. According to the document, this will improve the efficiency of traffic flow on the premise.

The document sheds light on the scarcity of land the size of the proposed lot: “Undeveloped sites the size of the Bayside Property in the Boston metro area are rare and may allow a developer significant pricing power.

UMass Boston is currently pending possible partnerships since the publication of the RFI document. In addition, all responses to UMass Boston’s RFI will be done on October 6. Any prospective respondents who might have questions or proposals about the project or RFI will have an opportunity to raise them on September 14.

In a statement to the Mass Media, Cournoyer said, “If the information received via the RFI informs a vision for the property and the timing makes sense for the university, the next step in the sequence would be to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP).”