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City, residents discuss sale of Maxwell Property in Uphams Corner

Posted by Patrick Rosso  March 7, 2014 05:03 PM

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After residents pushed the city to abandon its plan to use the East Cottage Street parcel in Uphams Corner, dubbed the Maxwell Property, for a Public Works storage yard, the Department of Neighborhood Development has moved forward with its plan to sell the property.

DND officials were in Dorchester Thursday night, to unveil the draft Requests for Proposals developed for the property. The RFP is DND’s standard process for selling public property. The document, which is publicly advertised, is a guideline for potential developers, laying out what the community would like to see at the sprawling property.

“The development proposals [RFP] were developed based on feedback we got at two community meetings in the fall and by the Uphams Corner Working Advisory Group,” explained Chris Rooney, a project manager for DND.

Owned and managed by the city of Boston, the property, which is bound by East Cottage Street, the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, and Hillsboro Street, was once home to the Maxwell Box Company, but the city took control of it in 2010 after years of tax disputes with the owner.

The parcel is approximately 120,000 square-feet and a dilapidated warehouse currently resides on it. Both were assessed in 2013 for a combined $1.9 million.

Although it is not set in stone, the city will likely demolish the decaying building prior to it being sold.

“It’s a much more attractive site without the building, but we’re still working on the numbers,” said Rooney.

The draft RFP presented Thursday, called for proposals that are, “contextual with the existing neighborhood in terms of height, scale, massing, construction materials, and visual appearance.”

Other caveats in the RFP included the developer working with the community, following the Boston Residents Job Policy, and creating open space that could be utilized by the surrounding community.

In addition to guidelines about the shape and size of potential projects, the RFP also provided guidance on what the community would like to see the property used for.

Mixed-use development was at the top, in addition to housing and possible light industrial use.

Although most of the 30 or so residents at Thursday’s meeting were supportive of potential mixed-use or residential projects at the site, some were hesitant about light industrial.

“I was concerned about the statement that it could go 100 percent light industrial,” said Susan Capachione, an area resident.

“My concern is the light industrial,” said Emma Montgomery. “To us this is a neighborhood and we certainly don’t want to see the wrong type of industry.”

Rooney stressed that any potential project would need the support of the community to be built.

“One of the things we heard was that job creation is important to the community,” said Rooney. “She [Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development] felt strongly that because of its size, where it sits in zoning, and what we heard from the community, that it could be used for job creation.”

Some in attendance also called on DND to promote the parcel’s connections to the nearby Uphams Corner MBTA Station.

“I’d like to see an emphasis on projects that reflect transit oriented development,” commented Nancy Conrad, an area resident.
Overall the majority of the audience seemed ready to get the project started sooner than later.

“It’s [the property] unique because of its size,” explained Max MacCarthy, executive director of the Uphams Corner Main Streets, a business development non-profit. “It has a lot of potential to provide a lot of jobs or housing and could have a transformative effect on the community.”

The RFP will likely be on the market for 90 days, according to DND officials.

For more information about the project, visit DND’s project page.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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