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Baker, Walsh announce joint community redevelopment venture in downtown Boston

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As part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s “Open for Business” Real Estate Asset Leveraging (REAL) Strategy, Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a joint state and city venture with Veolia North America to explore the strategic redevelopment of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s District 6 Headquarters and Veolia facility in downtown Boston. A broad set of goals will be developed for the site with the engagement of community leaders and residents, which could include economic growth and development, job creation and the addition of more open space and affordable, workforce and transit-oriented housing.

“Identifying prospects to redevelop and repurpose underutilized state property to advance economic growth and affordable housing is a valuable avenue to building stronger communities and opportunities for the people of Massachusetts,” Baker said.

“This announcement today is yet another example of how a strong partnership between the city and state can bring tremendous economic development benefits to the people of Boston,” Walsh said. “I look forward to continuing this work with the Baker Administration and members of the community in creating a vision for the development of this site.”

The Commonwealth and City of Boston continue to partner in the development of state-owned land, adding 1,300 units of housing (1/3 of which are affordable), and nearly 500,000 gross square feet of commercial space over the last five years. An additional 3,500 housing units and 2.5 million gross square feet of commercial space are in the project pipeline, which both the state and city are committed to advancing expedited construction, permitting and coordination. Both are collaborating to develop the next round of projects for the pipeline, that in addition to the MassDOT building, includes the development of a jointly-owned property in Lower Roxbury, MBTA-owned parcels in Jamaica Plain and an under-utilized MBTA parking lot near the Mattapan T stop.

The 5.5 acre parcel at 185 Kneeland Street, bordered by Chinatown, the Leather District and South Station with the Ink Block developments nearby, offers the potential for up to 1.5 to 2 million square feet of redevelopment. The first public input session will be held at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, March 2nd in the 1st Floor Conference Room at 185 Kneeland Street. Comments can also be submitted by email to James.A.Kersten@state.ma.us.

MassDOT’s District 6 Headquarters will be relocated or replaced and a scaled-down version of Veolia North America’s steam plant will be included as part of the redevelopment.

The Baker administration announced the “Open for Business” Real Estate Asset Leveraging strategy in October, which identifies unused or underutilized Commonwealth properties for redevelopment for affordable or market-rate housing, job creation, reduction in government expenses, increased revenue for the Commonwealth as well as local communities, capital investment in state properties, and open recreational space. Over 40 near-term opportunities throughout Massachusetts and across state agencies and authorities were first highlighted for public-private partnerships, of which 7 are currently under agreement.