Eighteen months after signaling they would put the site of the old Bayside Expo Center on the market, University of Massachusetts officials are poised to announce who will take it over.
The UMass Board of Trustees and its Building Authority have scheduled votes for Thursday to “consider the selection of a developer” for 20 acres alongside UMass Boston in Dorchester. A university spokesman would not name the developer — board members have not yet been notified, he said — but the project has attracted some of the biggest names in Boston real estate.
UMass president Martin T. Meehan and UMass Boston officials have said they envision a corporate campus with housing, office space, and research facilities — like a mini-Kendall Square — for the site. They will negotiate a 99-year-lease with a developer and aim to use the proceeds to address some of the cash-strapped campus’s pressing financial needs, from replacing a crumbling below-ground parking garage to paying for a new home for a nursing school.
Some at UMass Boston, however, may have other ideas. The union representing faculty and staff released a statement Wednesday expressing concerns about the likely loss of the Bayside parking lots, noting that parking fees at other campus lots more than doubled last year. The union also asked how proceeds from the deal might be used to pay for staffing and programs and pay off debt.
No price was disclosed ahead of Thursday’s meeting, but real estate experts have said the 20 acres could fetch $200 million or more. UMass Boston paid $18.7 million to buy the site out of foreclosure in 2010 and now largely uses it for parking. A plan to put a stadium there for the New England Revolution fell through in 2017 amid neighborhood opposition, and UMass then decided to sell the site .
The opportunity attracted an array of big-name developers, both veteran Boston builders and national tech and life science specialists. A handful have submitted bids, and over the last year or so to a committee of university officials — and representatives of Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh — has narrowed the list to a small group of finalists, whom they have not named.
They will make their final recommendation to the UMass board Thursday. Should the board approve the deal, developers would then file plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency.Tim Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.