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Wentworth Institute considers 3-building complex on Sweeney Field site

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  February 5, 2013 03:47 PM

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(Google Maps)

The area shaded in red shows Sweeney Field's current location and the site of Wentworth's proposed development. The blue area shows the proposed new location of Sweeney Field.

Wentworth Institute of Technology is looking to add three new buildings to its campus on Huntington Avenue that would provide space for academic, research, and private business use.

School officials and community members are working on plans for three new buildings to be built where Sweeney Field currently sits on Huntington Avenue at a series of community task force meetings.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5, at 6 p.m.

At the task force’s previous meeting in January, school officials outlined the plans as part of the school’s long-term campus development.

Two buildings would be 6 stories and 118 feet high. The third building would be 18 stories and 280 feet high. The two shorter buildings would be closer to Huntington Avenue while the taller building would be set back on Parker Street to maintain Huntington Ave.’s building height. The site would be known as 500 Huntington Ave.

“Wentworth has been thinking long and hard about what Sweeney Field could be and one of the things we thought about was that it would economic engine for the city of Boston and we also are looking at this as a project for Wentworth that would really utilize our physical resources—the campus, the land--to strengthen the campus and mission” said David Wahlstrom, Wentworth’s vice president of business.

About 78,400 square feet of the project would be used as an academic center called the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Technology. It would serve as an entrepreneurial center where students can work with companies and develop skills for future jobs.

Another 539,000-square-foot building would be used for offices, research and development, and laboratory space that would be leased to a tenant.

That tenant, said Wahlstrom, would be a company that the school can partner with, such as a technology firm, that would offer research and internship opportunities to Wentworth faculty and students, as well as jobs for the larger community.

“This project here really is going in a whole new direction. It’s really thinking about the future: the future of Wentworth and how technology and education are going to happen in the future” said Jamie Fay of Fort Point Associates, who is a planning consultant for the school.

Fay noted Wentworth has been focused on improving existing facilities and increasing housing.

The plans call for ample open space and pedestrian pathways along with retail space on the ground floors of the buildings.

The school expects the project to create 1,900 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs and have an economic impact of over $2 billion to Boston’s economy over the first 10 years.

“That’s what we do in Boston. We have a lot of brains and a lot of facilities like this, and this would be another place in Boston where that exciting work would take place,” Fay said.

A parking garage underneath would hold 490 vehicles, and a gate at the bottom of the entrance ramp would allow vehicles to line up on the ramp instead of on Parker Street.

As for the athletic field, Sweeney Field would be rebuilt over a school parking lot between Parker, Prentiss, Halleck, and Station streets.

School officials hope the move closer to the Mission Hill neighborhood will allow Wentworth to host more activities, such as a neighborhood soccer program run by the school’s team.

“It brings Sweeney Field closer to the community,” Wahlstrom said. “We are envisioning a lot of community involvement with the field.”

Tuesday’s meeting is set to be held in the Wentworth’s Beatty Hall in the Multipurpose Room on the second floor.

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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