Bayside developers plan ‘vision’ sessions with their neighbors

Accordia Partners launches outreach effort

Members of the development team that will transform the UMass-owned Bayside parcel on Columbia Point in the coming years introduced themselves to the membership of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association on Monday night, the first stop in their listening tour of community groups that will continue through the fall.

Accordia Partners and the UMass Building Authority signed a lease agreement for the 20-acre waterfront property this summer in a deal that could yield the Boston campus more than $200 million. Dick Galvin and Kirk Sykes, the principals at Accordia, were featured guests at the meeting, along with Catherine O’Neill, a local consultant whom they have hired to help them process community input.

“For us, the Bayside property is a once-in-a-lifetime culmination of career opportunities, and it’s a benefit to UMass Boston,” said Galvin, who added that Accordia will host a series of “vision” meetings, starting on Sat., Oct. 26 with a follow up meeting in November. The first meeting will be held at the Boston Teachers Union Hall on Mt. Vernon Street.

“We won't be filing publicly until sometime in late January,” Galvin said. “The first step is engaging in the conversation and hearing your concerns, ideas for what will make the project work. You all live here and you know best.”

Added Sykes: “The name Accordia means together, and we see this as an opportunity to work together. We have a history of working with communities, which is important to us.”

According to City Councillor Frank Baker, who chimed in at the meeting, the “vision” meetings are similar to the process that informed redevelopment at the South Bay Shopping Center. “This is not a BPDA-sponsored event,” he said. “It’s just the community coming together to give these guys a sense of what we would like to see.”

Baker added: “We have an opportunity to put together a great presentation in the hopes that the developers can understand what we would support and what makes the community work. This is a big project and we see it as something that can be leveraged to benefit the community.”
Longtime Savin Hill resident Don Walsh urged the membership to be active in the meetings, saying. “We don’t want [the developers] to do their planning in isolation.”

During the session, there was discussion about apprenticeship programs for UMass Boston students and the matter of branding, which was prompted when an association member asked the developers if they have a name for the project. Although they didn’t offer an answer, a consensus in the room supported branding it a “Dorchester project,” with Baker suggesting “UMass at Dorchester Bay.”

Attendees also mentioned walking accessibility as an item that developers should keep in mind going forward.

Accordia Partners will lease the property, which UMass Boston acquired in 2010 for $18.7 million, for a 99-year term and make an up-front payment that will fall between $192.5 million to $235 million, according to a draft of the lease published recently in the Dorchester Reporter. The exact amount Accordia will pay the university will depend on the amount of square footage ultimately permitted for construction by the city and the state.

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