Business

Pier 4 cultural space draws interest from arts community

Boston, Massachusetts -- 4/6/2015-- The Pier 4 site under construction in the Seaport District in Boston, Massachusetts April 6, 2015. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff Topic: 07pier4 Reporter:
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
The Pier 4 site under construction in the Seaport District.

The city’s request for a new tenant to come to the South Boston waterfront’s Pier 4 has sparked significant interest from the local arts community.

In all, five bidders submitted proposals to the Boston Redevelopment Authority to vie for the 20,000 square feet of space available in the bottom two floors and outdoors at UDR’s new apartment building on Pier 4. A sixth group would like to use a portion of the space.

Building owner UDR, a real estate investment trust, is making the space available at below-market rates as part of a longstanding commitment to state regulators to allow buildings to go up on Pier 4 that exceed the typical height restrictions for tideland areas.

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In an unusual step, UDR is working with city officials to hold a public bidding process for this space. City officials said this project would be the first time in at least 15 years that a developer is working with the city to openly seek proposals for a civic or cultural space to meet this tidelands requirement.

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The following proposals will now be reviewed by UDR and city officials, with guidance from the state Department of Environmental Protection:

-- Boston Cyberarts wants to use the space for exhibitions and a performance and meeting area, as well as technology incubation offices.

-- The Celebrity Series of Boston wants to turn the space into a music venue, with indoor and outdoor performances.

-- The Fort Point Arts Community would like to convert the space for artists’ uses, including a potential gallery and workspace.

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-- The Society of Arts and Crafts wants to convert it to exhibition space, a library and a multi-purpose auditorium.

--- And the Steinway Society of Massachusetts would like it for a small concert hall and music studios.

-- The Artist Book Foundation, meanwhile, would like to collaborate with the eventual civic tenant to install a 1,000-square-foot gallery and book store.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.