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MassDOT seeks developer for parcel between Haymarket, Greenway

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  January 5, 2012 04:06 PM

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parcel 9 concept 1.jpg

(Massachusetts Department of Transportation)

An image from the request for proposals shows one possible configuration for a building on the wedge-shaped parcel adjacent to Haymarket.

After a long public process and the abandonment of an earlier set of proposals, the state is once again seeking a developer for the parcel of land between Haymarket and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has issued a request for proposals for the long-term lease and development of the .67-acre lot, known as Parcel 9, and will accept proposals until March 9. The RFP states that the lease on the site could last up to 99 years.

In addition to MassDOT, proposals will be reviewed by the conservancy that oversees the greenway, the citizens advisory group established for this site and the adjacent Parcel 7, and relevant city, state, and federal authorities, including the Federal Highway Administration, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which will conduct a public review under Article 80 of the Zoning Code.

The wedge-shaped parcel is one of around 30 created by the Big Dig and is the former site of the southbound North Street off-ramp. For the process of examining potential uses, it was combined with Parcel 7, which already contains a building that includes a parking lot, entry point for the Haymarket MBTA station, and several floors of empty space that have remained undeveloped for years. A MassDOT official announced last May that the agency intended to move its offices into the upper floors.

The first floor of the Parcel 7 structure was designated as the site of a future public market, for which MassDOT is also seeking proposals, including plans that would offer a comprehensive scheme for both parcels or the entire Market District surrounding them. A BRA feasibility study described that district as extending from the southern end of the Bulfinch Triangle down to North Street, stretching west as far as City Hall Plaza and east to the North End commercial district.

While Parcel 7 already contains a building, Parcel 9 is an empty lot, and it will be a challenge to build any structure there. The first obstacle is the site itself: it has traffic tunnels running underneath that range from approximately 3 - 18 feet below the surface, according to the document released this week.

Additionally, officials have set development guidelines that include respecting the workings of Haymarket, which has operated at the site for about 180 years. That will mean building a new structure in a way that doesn’t disturb the operations of the market but also, when the building is complete, accepting a certain level of noise, trash, and commotion at the site each Friday and Saturday.

The state requires that the building’s first floor be used as retail space that will reinforce and complement — not compete with — the Haymarket vendors and expects it to help generate foot traffic to the Market District. The new building must provide public restrooms, trash and recycling space for Haymarket vendors, and at least 2,000 square feet of vendor storage within the first floor, and depending on its design, may need to include some retail space for vendors as well.

The state also requires that any new structure on the site “have a character appropriate to the surrounding urban areas, including building heights” and exterior walls that match up with those of nearby historic buildings but that the side facing the greenway not attract attention to itself but instead frame the park land attractively.

Under the city’s zoning code, the maximum building height at the site is 55 feet, though the RFP states that a developer could obtain community support for a greater height at the southern edge of the parcel by reducing the massing on the ground floor.

Any building on the site will also be required to meet the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards for certification. If the upper floors are used as residential space, it would also fall under Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Inclusionary Development Policy requiring a number of affordable units equal to 15 percent of the market-rate units.

Potential developers must put up a $50,000 deposit to be considered, and the winner must deposit $100,000 upon selection.

To view a PDF of the request for proposals, visit http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/InformationCenter/RealEstateAssetDevelopment.aspx.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @DowntownUpdate.

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