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Big-name developers vying to build on parcel just south of downtown

State transportation officials said Thursday that they have received six proposals from developers to build on a 1.4 acre parcel on Kneeland Street that was once used as part of the Big Dig. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo)
State transportation officials said Thursday that they have received six proposals from developers to build on a 1.4 acre parcel on Kneeland Street that was once used as part of the Big Dig. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo)David L. Ryan

A half-dozen big-name developers are vying for the rights to build on a key state-owned site on the southern edge of downtown Boston.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said Thursday that it received six bids for a 1.3-acre property on Kneeland Street known as Parcel 25, which sits atop the exit from the Tip O’Neill Tunnel for the southbound lanes of Interstate 93 leaving downtown. MassDOT is offering a 99-year lease for the site, which is left over from the Big Dig, and the opportunity drew interest from a range of prominent developers, most offering to build housing or lab space there.

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The bidders were:

- Brookfield Properties, The Menkiti Group, Hudson Group and Rise Together, proposing 300 residential units and 302,000 square feet of research and development space.

- Trinity Financial and the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center proposing 394 residential units and 13,000 square feet of retail and community space.

- National Development, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Asian Community Development Corp., and Alinea Capital Partners proposing 93 residential units and 330,000 square feet of research and development space.

- Biomed Realty, proposing 736,000 square feet of lab space.

- The Peebles Corp. and Genesis Cos., proposing 218 residential units and 309,000 square feet of lab space.

- Lupoli Cos., proposing 153 residential units and 362,000 square feet of lab space.

Financial terms and other details were not immediately available.

Proposals will be judged on several criteria, including the financial return to the state, but also the diversity of the project teams and their financial partners. That approach — dubbed the “Massport Model” after its use by the Massachusetts Port Authority to sell off sites such as the new Omni Hotel in the Seaport — prompted several of the development teams to include nonprofits that serve nearby Chinatown or builders from among the city’s ranks of Black-owned construction firms.

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Whatever proposal is chosen will also have to contend with the site’s engineering complexities and with the needs of adjacent neighborhoods — Chinatown and the Leather District — that have argued for more affordable housing and open space, particularly on publicly owned land. Some in those neighborhoods have also pushed back against recent lab proposals that they worry will do little for current residents. Some of those residents’ needs — such as a rule that 20 percent of housing on Parcel 25 be set at affordable prices — have been written into MassDOT’s bid requirements. Others will likely be hashed out as the project moves through review with the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

A MassDOT spokeswoman said the agency will review the proposals but gave no timeline for choosing one.


Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.