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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
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February 26, 2024

Administrators snatch up the Expo Center, expand school property

Administrators snatch up the Expo Center, expand school property

In a swift move over the winter break, UMB administrators bought The Expo Center and its surrounding 20 acres of land. By expanding the university’s reach down the peninsula, UMB hopes to both improve the surrounding community and create a swing space for future expansion projects.

“UMass Boston would work with the City of Boston, the state, Columbia Point neighbors, and the surrounding communities to develop a plan that realizes the potential of the site, stimulates economic activity, creates jobs, and brings greater activity and opportunity to Columbia Point and the region,” said UMB Chancellor Keith Motley in a statement published on the UMB website over the break.

The purchase creates welcome leeway for administrators anxious to break ground on their plans for revamping the UMB campus. The Combined Sciences Complex, to be built over the soccer field next to the Quinn Building, will begin construction early this year along with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, which will be on the other side of campus, near the JFK library.

Tara DeSisto, the UMB student trustee, said in a phone interview that the land purchase is both a solid business decision and a glint of promise for the UMB campus.”We’re moving into a place where we can compete with other institutions that we weren’t able to compete with before,” DeSisto said.

Because recruiting trade shows has become difficult as newer exposition venues spring up in Boston, The Expo Center failed. While developing the land for other types of commercial uses may have been profitable, its owner Joe Corcoran decided to forgo this possibility, and find a way to liquidate his property while improving the community.”From what I understand we got it for a great price, and Corcoran could have sold it out for commercial space…this way UMass has much more presence on the peninsula,” said DeSisto.

As UMB continues to expand, students will not be stuck with the bill, administrators say. The university bases its budget for new buildings and development on outside funding.”The acquisition of the Bayside would be paid for with bond funding and would have little impact on student tuition or fees. In fact, the availability of parking at the Bayside would delay the need for the university to raise parking fees to develop new on-campus parking structures,” Chancellor Motley said.

Since the roof of the parking garage under the breezeway began collapsing several years ago, parking has been a challenge for UMB students and administrators alike.”With our current facilities and parking already strained to capacity,” Chancellor Motley said. “We will need space to replace parking eliminated during construction and to possibly relocate offices and classrooms during renovations to existing buildings.”

The prospect of expanding the University’s reach along the peninsula excites students and alumni alike. Bill Walczak, former UMB student and CEO of the Codman Square Health Center, recently published a short endorsement of the deal in the Boston Globe.”These 20-plus acres on Columbia Point will relieve overcrowded facilities and give the university the opportunity to plan a more ambitious future for the university, which will benefit the entire state,” said Walczak.

The only down side for current students may be the walk from the parking area at the Expo Center to campus. But Mike Spitzer, a business student, said the exercise won’t phase him.

“The walk will be tough, especially in the winter, but I think it’ll be worth it,” said Spitzer. “Hopefully they’ll put a restaurant, or a bar out there too. It could be a good opportunity to make this campus more of a place where students want to hang out.”

Whatever UMB ends up doing with the land in the long run, the prospect of expansion electrifies everyone from those in the Dorchester community to the mayor of Boston. The mayor’s spokesperson, Dot Joyce, applauded UMB on the purchase, saying that it will bring more business and job opportunities to the community.

“This purchase is not only good for UMass Boston, but good for the city. Higher education remains one of our strongest economies and we will continue to work with UMass as they go through this process and as they continue to provide service for our young people in the city,” Joyce said to a Boston Globe reporter.

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010