Nearly a year after the 42-year-old Quincy Center MBTA parking garage was shuttered due to safety concerns, city and state officials are taking the first steps toward reopening the facility.
A Request for Qualifications was released by the city on June 13, asking for design proposals for a Quincy Center station, parking garage, busway, and retail and transit- oriented development.
“This is a very preliminary,” said Christopher Walker, spokesman for Mayor Thomas Koch. “This has been an ongoing process internally with the city, the T, the state, and the federal government, brainstorming ideas about how to proceed. This is just the very first step.”
According to Walker, the city will use money from an unspent $980,000 Transportation Community Systems Preservation Grant. The funding, received from the federal government in 2011, will cover up to 25 percent of design specs from a selected developer.
Who will pay for the remaining design work and the construction has yet to be determined. What the project might include – such as retail space - is also up in the air.
“Everything is on the table in terms of potential, with the T station and parking facility [being] the two things that are non-negotiable,” Walker said.
The other non-negotiable is that the taxpayers will not be on the hook for the project, Walker said.
While the Request for Qualifications is preliminary, Walker said the bid request will answer several crucial questions, including an estimated cost.
The request also asks for a design/build/finance/operate/maintain plans.
“It will provide the engineering framework for what needs to be done,” Walker said. “The nuts and bolts of recreating a parking garage and a T-station, and what would need to be done to foster development above the train tracks.”
Walker said the city is also using this time to determine what approvals might be necessary. Unlike in other T-stations, Quincy owns the air rights above all its T tracks and therefore retains substantial control over what is built.
The bid deadline is July 11. Walker said the administration hopes to settle on a direction within the following few months.
“This planning process is going on and hopefully some point this year there will be something more formal that could be presented to the public. That’s obviously the goal,” Walker said.
The announcement comes quickly on the heels Monday's groundbreaking ceremony for the Quincy Center redevelopment.
One of the main reasons lead developer Street-Works LLC came to the city was the access to public transportation, Street-Works officials have said.
Walker said the hope is to bring up the T-station concurrently with the downtown construction.
“It’s the city’s hope and expectation that whatever plan is agreed upon happens in a way that coincides with the larger downtown project,” Walker said.
Walker said Street-Works has been kept in the loop of what is occurring at the T station, but the developer has not made a commitment to being a part of the MBTA development.
The five-level, 863-space parking garage was closed in July 2012 after weekly studies found the structure was unsafe.
MBTA officials said an average of 450 vehicles parked in the garage on a typical weekday, and parking traffic has been redirected to both the Quincy Adams and North Quincy stations since the structure was closed.