No bidders for SouthGate Boston, 7.5 acres of state-owned land in Leather District
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) did not receive any bids to acquire and develop its' 7.5-acre property in the Leather District as of the bid submission deadline last Friday. Real estate community members cited a high bid price, the challenges of decking over Interstate 93, the requirement to rebuild the existing steam plant & park and high affordable housing requirements as reasons why they did not bid.
MassDOT had sought a $167 million minimum bid of the 5.5-acre core parcel along Kneeland Street, with a third 2-acre parcel located between adjacent highway ramps connected to the Core Parcel by an access road offered for an additional $5 million minimum bid. All bids were required to include the core parcel. Per The Boston Globe, MassDOT may revise the bid and put a simplified version back out to bid. “MassDOT remains committed to working with the City of Boston and its private sector partner on this opportunity to redevelop an underutilized property in support of local economic growth,” agency spokesman Patrick Marvin told the Globe.
MassDOT puts Kneeland Street development site up for sale
MassDOT has put its' 7.5-acre Kneeland Street property, SouthGate Boston, up for sale with a minimum bid of $167 million for the property's 5.5-acre core parcel (comprised of MassDOT Parcels 25 and 26). A third 2-acre parcel (MassDOT Parcel 27A) surrounded by highway access roads and connected to the core parcel via an access road is now also being offered for an additional minimum bid of $5 million. All bids must include the core parcel; bidders are not required to bid on Parcel 27A. A locus map of the parcels can be found above.
Per MassDOT's Invitation to Bid (ITB) for SouthGate Boston, the State envisions an "iconic, mixed-use, Transit-Oriented Development with significant height and density." The project should "provide attractive and useable open space linked to the communities." Any housing proposed at SouthGate Boston should provide "an enhanced percentage of affordable and workforce units;" per the ITB, at least 20% of any housing units developed must be designated affordable.
Per the ITB, buildings within 50 feet of Kneeland Street shall not be greater that 125 feet in height. The developer must build a deck over Interstate 93, which runs through the site. The existing Reggie Wong Park must be retained and improved. MassDOT will have the right to lease the existing SouthGate Boston property for up to three years after the sale. The developer will also have to construct a replacement for the existing Veolia steam plant.
Design guidelines released for Kneeland Street development
The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) has released design guidelines for the future development project at 185 Kneeland Street, a 5.5-acre site currently owned by the State of Massachusetts. The following is a link to the full BRA guidelines. A request for proposals (RFP) for development of the site will be issued later this year. The selected proposal will be required to undergo the BRA's default Planned Development Area (PDA) and Article 80 review process for large projects.
The BRA’s guidelines call for the 5.5-acre site to be subdivided into “smaller parcels and streets” so as to integrate with the surrounding streetscape. The guidelines call for tall, dense development that “comfortably relates” with the existing streetscape, setting a 125-foot height limit within 50 feet of Kneeland Street to “create a welcoming streetscape environment” but allowing for and encouraging up to a 300-foot height further back facing Interstate 93 and the gateway to downtown Boston.
New buildings should feature “dramatic, iconic” gateway design that facilitates a sense of arrival to Boston. Given the site’s proximity to Interstate 93, development should mitigate the visual impact of the surrounding highway and tunnel infrastructure and take appropriate measures to ensure safe air quality.
Facing Kneeland Street, buildings should have ground-floor retail. The guidelines also call for “wider sidewalks, bicycle accommodations, possible curbside parking, landscaping and street furniture” along Kneeland Street as well as “enhanced streetscapes” with landscaping and street furnishings throughout the project site. The guidelines call for open uses that accommodate activities including “volleyball and basketball” and the maintenance or replacement of the existing Reggie Wong Park, noting playground and “playscape” open space features as desirable.
More information about the 185 Kneeland Street project is posted below.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today announced that the 5.5-acre state-owned parcel located at 185 Kneeland Street will be offered for redevelopment. A request for proposal (RFP) will be issued later this year.
According to Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, also in attendance, the city and state are “very committed to housing” being built on the parcel; a mix of uses will likely be incorporated. According to Boston Department of Neighborhood Development Director Sheila Dillon, also in attendance, a number of market-rate housing units will likely be incorporated as the parcel will be expensive to develop. While the state’s preference is to offer 185 Kneeland Street for lease, the parcel may be sold to its future developer.
The 185 Kneeland Street parcel is currently home to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) District 6 Highway Division headquarters. The parcel sits at the entrance to downtown Boston, above the entrance to Interstate 93’s Dewey Square Tunnel. Recently-completed One Greenway is located nearby. A new home for the District 6 headquarters has not yet been named; the state is seeking a central location with highway access. An existing Veolia steam plant at 185 Kneeland Street will be incorporated into the redevelopment. The redeveloped steam plant would be built physically underneath any future development.
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