UMass Boston: Investing in the Future
January 08, 2010
J. Keith Motley, PhD, UMass Boston Chancellor
As we enter 2010, the University of Massachusetts Boston is beginning an exciting new chapter: bringing new and improved academic facilities to our Columbia Point campus. And as we move forward with the university's 25-year master plan, we have a unique opportunity to acquire the Bayside Exposition Center to help meet our space needs as we build new academic buildings and renovate existing facilities.
Next year construction will begin on the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, followed by an Integrated Sciences Complex and a general academic building. With our current facilities and parking already strained to capacity, we will need space to replace parking eliminated during construction and to possibly relocate offices and classrooms during renovations to existing buildings.
Over the past year the university looked at a number of properties in the area to explore their suitability for use as swing space. When the Bayside property unexpectedly became available through foreclosure, we cautiously evaluated its suitability and examined the contingent issues its acquisition could raise. In the end, we concluded that Bayside offers a truly unique combination of flexible ready-to-use parking and facility space, proximity, and near- and long-term value. We also believe that retaining local control of this property is in the best interest of our Columbia Point neighbors, the adjoining neighborhoods, and the city.
We share the sentiments of many nearby residents, businesses, and organizations who believe the 20-acre Bayside site holds great potential. Like many in the community, we were disappointed to hear that Corcoran Jennison's plans for redeveloping the site fell through last fall amid the economic collapse. And we were both saddened and surprised when we learned about the foreclosure this spring.
The financial meltdown and subsequent recession have stalled much real estate development, and it may take years for the economic recovery to restart projects and generate new activity. Fortunately, because of UMass Boston's careful planning and work with the UMass Building Authority, the bond funding and financing for the first stage of construction on our campus and the acquisition of the Bayside property are firmly in place.
The economy has dashed many hopes and dreams. It is my goal, as UMass Boston's chancellor, to inspire new hope for the future of the Bayside property. I am committed to working with the City of Boston, the Commonwealth, elected leaders, Columbia Point neighbors, and the surrounding communities to develop a vision that realizes the potential of the site, stimulates economic activity, creates jobs, and brings greater activity and opportunity to Columbia Point and the region.
As the only public university in Greater Boston, UMass Boston has a unique mission to provide access to high-quality, low-cost education. With approximately 80 percent of UMass Boston graduates choosing to stay in Massachusetts, we believe it's essential for future contributors to the state's economy to learn in 21st-century facilities and research environments. I look forward to working with you, our neighbors, in carrying on this mission – helping students achieve their dreams through higher education.
I encourage you to share your thoughts or forward your questions by emailing email@example.com or calling 617-287-5300.
And I wish you and yours a very happy New Year!