UMass officials seek proposals for Calf Pasture redevelopment

UMass officials are seeking requests for proposals for the Calf Pasture Pumping Station site and another parcel on the UMass Boston campus. (Image via Newmark/UMass)

UMass officials are issuing a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station and another parcel, currently used for parking at the Boston campus, in Dorchester’s Columbia Point.

UMass on Friday announced that it has tapped Newmark Group Inc.’s Boston capital markets team to handle the request for proposals (RFP).

The two parcels, which total 5.8 acres and 4.2 acres, are across the street from each other, and about a 15 minute walk from the MBTA’s JFK/UMass Station, which services the Red Line and commuter rail lines that run from South Station. The parcels are also close to I-93 and Morrissey Boulevard, a major thoroughfare.

The two parcels are being marketed as “University Crossing at Dorchester Bay.” The JFK Presidential Library and Museum, and the Kennedy Institute for the Study of the Senate, are behind the parcels, while dormitories for UMass students are next door.

The dilapidated Calf Pasture Pumping Station, a castle-like building that opened in 1883, is the last nineteenth-century building on Columbia Point, and appears on a national list of historic places.

It was built as part of an effort to set up a public sewage system. Under an agreement announced in 2012, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission transferred ownership of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station to UMass Boston in exchange for $2.1 million over 15 years in scholarships to Boston Public School students.

Newmark’s website set up to tout the parcels call them an “exceptional opportunity for investors to pursue a transit oriented, mixed use development leveraging the vibrant academic and research programs at UMass Boston’s 120-acre campus, which itself is undergoing significant investment and expansion.”

Newmark adds the harborside site is “ideally positioned to capture overflow office and life science tenant demand” from other Boston neighborhoods such as the Seaport District, as well as the city of Cambridge. Those areas are seeing low vacancy rates and rising commercial rents.

The site is also located with a federal designation known as an “Opportunity Zone,” which offers tax benefits to investors.

In 2020, eight developers submitted responses to a request for information from the UMass Building Authority in an effort to gauge the market for the parcels. The eight developers were Accordia Partners, American Campus Communities, The Drew Company, The Fallon Company, Lincoln/Davenport, Michaels/Nordblom, New Atlantic/Historic Boston, and Pennrose/Devco/Hunt. Their names were revealed after a public records request that UMass officials initially resisted.

The request for proposals comes as another mixed-use development, known as “Dorchester Bay City,” gets underway down the street.

The massive 34-acre project, spanning 5.9 million square feet primarily at the site of the former Bayside Expo Center, calls for four million square feet of lab and office space, 1,740 residential units and 155,000 square feet of retail. Accordia Partners signed a 99-year lease with UMass Boston in 2019. The development remains under review by city planners.

Material from previous Reporter articles was used in this report.

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