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UMass Boston to lease Bayside Expo Center to developer for $235M

BOSTON — The UMass Board of Trustees and the UMass Building Authority (UMBA) formally announced on Thursday they have chosen the developer who will be leasing out the Bayside Expo Center for $235 million.

The university has decided to designate Accordia Partners to "build a mixed-use urban innovation campus" at the 20-acre site that used to house former Bayside Expo Center.

UMass officials described the selection of Accordia Partners as the first major step towards redeveloping the waterfront site that sits next to the UMass-Boston campus.

"This is an enormous opportunity for UMass Boston and the City," said UMass President Marty Meehan. "In addition to an incredible infusion of revenue for the Boston campus, this development will create opportunities for campus expansion and attract innovation economy companies looking to co-locate and partner with UMass Boston and the Dorchester/South Boston communities."

Under the agreement, Accordia Partners will enter into a 99-year ground lease for up to $235 million, with a minimum lease price of $192 million contingent on receipt of necessary approvals.

The lease is expected to generate a 10-fold return on the university's 2018 purchase price of $18.7 million. Accordia Partners has also committed to a $25 million investment in related infrastructure improvements.

"We are excited by the opportunity to transform this important site into a gateway to UMass Boston and better connect the campus, the surrounding communities, public transportation and waterfront," said Kirk A. Sykes, on behalf of Accordia Partners. "We appreciate the thoughtful and deliberative process that UMass has undertaken and share the university’s commitment to innovation, collaboration and access. Our first and most critical step in looking forward will be to launch a process for listening to the many voices interested in this project, including neighbors, the community, and faculty, students and staff of UMass Boston."

Proceeds from the deal will go to UMass-Boston, which has faced serious financial issues in recent years.

Meehan says the infusion of money would allow for campus expansion and new partnerships between the school and private companies.

Some faculty members expressed concern in advance of the vote by UMass trustees that the lease could cause "long-term" harm for UMass-Boston.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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