1003-1013 Harrison Avenue
Demolition Begins on Approved Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology Campus
The Baker-Polito Administration announced $650,000 from the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund to Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology to prepare a 1.26-acre site at 1003-1013 Harrison Ave. in Nubian Square in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood that will serve as the school’s new campus.
BFIT, currently located in Boston’s South End neighborhood, will use proceeds to assess and remediate environmental contamination at the site and demolish a vacant warehouse building, actions that will clear the way for the school to build its new three-story, 68,000-square-foot academic headquarters in the neighborhood. The new campus will feature 23 technical education labs for hands-on learning—including a rooftop learning lab for solar panels and HVAC instruction—eight general classrooms, meeting and study rooms, a central student lounge, a student success center, as well as administration space. With a flexible and sustainable design, the new campus will enable the college to increase its in-person learning capacity from 600 students to 800 students with many able to be served through distance learning. This expanded capacity comes at a time of increased demand for students who are prepared for high-quality tech and trade careers.
Governor Charlie Baker, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, and MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera joined Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology President and CEO Dr. Aisha Francis in Nubian Square to announce the award.
“Today’s announcement highlights the importance of the Commonwealth’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, a program that is designed to help reinvigorate blighted sites with new life and purpose,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology’s new campus in Nubian Square will revitalize a vacant property into a hub of education, innovation and opportunity that we are proud to support.”
“This new campus will provide Roxbury residents with direct access to the technical college and all of the job training and economic development it will bring,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased that the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund award will support important predevelopment work on an environmentally challenging parcel that, once complete, will pave the way for a dynamic and modern campus.”
1003-1013 Harrison Ave. currently houses a 32,516-square-foot warehouse formerly operated by the Harrison Supply Company that has sat vacant for more than a decade. Prior environmental assessments of the site showed soil contaminants such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and lead, as well as contaminants in the building including asbestos and lead. BFIT expects to bring new life to the site by assessing, remediating, and demolishing the warehouse. Further plans include beginning construction of the new campus by fall 2022 in anticipation of moving into the new campus in 2024.
“The mission of the Commonwealth’s Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is to breathe life into properties complicated by environmental contamination,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “Investing in Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology’s move to Nubian Square in Roxbury helps meet that mission and more by converting a vacant warehouse into a new state-of-the-art campus and creating space where young people of all backgrounds can be empowered with the educational opportunities necessary to pursue meaningful and successful career paths.”
“The demolition of this blighted property and the building of the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology campus marks an important step in the rebirth of Dudley Square into Nubian Square, adding energy and foot traffic in a dynamic corner of Roxbury,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is thrilled to help the school make this transformative investment into a first-rate campus for its students and for Boston.”
MassDevelopment oversees the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, which helps to transform vacant, abandoned, or underused industrial or commercial properties by financing the environmental assessment and remediation of brownfield sites in “Economically Distressed Areas” of the Commonwealth. From the Fund’s inception in 1998 through FY21, it has supported 765 awards for a total investment of more than $112 million. Additionally, in October 2021 the Baker-Polito Administration announced $1.2 million in FY22 Brownfields funding for eight projects across Massachusetts.
“Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology is a terrific partner to the City of Boston, supporting a strong job training pipeline for our residents through programs like the Mayor’s Tuition Free Community College Program and more,” said Midori Morikawa, the City of Boston’s Deputy Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “BFIT’s new Nubian Square campus will provide expanded opportunities for Boston’s low-income residents to gain skills necessary for good jobs in today’s economy. We are thankful to MassDevelopment for the funding to help make this project a reality.”
“It is fantastic to have funding partners like MassDevelopment recognize the economic development opportunity inherent in moving Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology to the Harrison Avenue site,” said Dr. Aisha Francis, President and CEO of BFIT. “With their partnership, and through the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, we are beginning the public-facing process of creating a 21st century, state-of-the-art campus to serve our students and offer more robust education options to the surrounding community.”
Founded in 1908, Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology is an affordable, urban, private, nonprofit college serving the Boston region and committed to student success and career readiness in technology fields. Through personalized support, hands-on learning, and industry-informed curricula, BFIT prepares graduates for work, life-long learning, and citizenship. BFIT has a 10-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. Seventy-four percent (74%) of students identify as students of color and 57% are first-generation college students.
In December 2021, Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology announced a partnership with another MassDevelopment client, Ginkgo Bioworks, to develop an associate degree in biotechnology manufacturing to be housed at the Nubian Square Life Science Training Center, which will neighbor BFIT’s new campus. MassDevelopment provided a $1 million loan from its Emerging Technology Fund in 2015 to help Ginkgo Bioworks finance an expansion and equipment for a foundry at its headquarters in Boston’s Seaport.
MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2021, MassDevelopment financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 6,578 jobs and build or preserve 1,909 housing units.