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    Developers want chance to build on Bayside Expo site

    The Bayside Expo Center was bought by UMass Boston in 2010.
    Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff/File
    The Bayside Expo Center was bought by UMass Boston in 2010.

    Developers are lining up for the chance to build on the site of the old Bayside Expo Center.

    The University of Massachusetts Building Authority said Friday that it received 16 letters of interest from developers for the 20-acre Bayside land, where it hopes to build a “modern-day Harvard Square” that would serve as a “new gateway” to the burgeoning UMass Boston campus.

    The letters, which are nonbinding and preliminary, are the first step in choosing a developer, who would likely either sign a long-term lease for the site or partner with UMass to build on it.

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    Interest came from a wide range of developers, including global firms that are growing in Boston such as Skanska and LendLease, veteran local builders such as HYM Investment Group and Accordia Partners, and several national firms that build privately-owned student housing.

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    A few letters were submitted by developers who already are building in South Boston and at Columbia Point, such as Beacon Capital Partners and Core Investments. One came from a partnership of Corcoran Jennison and the Boston Teachers Union, which own large parcels next to Bayside and have, at times, sparred with UMass over the site.

    While developers submitted general ideas with their letters of interest, UMass would not share them, saying the information will be used to help design a formal request for proposals.

    A spokesman, though, said the school received “a range of ideas consistent with the mixed-use concept outlined” in the initial request.

    “The number of developers who chose to participate in the [request for information] for the Bayside property affirms that there is strong interest from the real estate community in the site,” said UMass president Martin Meehan. “That is good news.”

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    UMass bought the Bayside Expo Center in 2010 for $18.7 million. It was considered to be a potential site first as part of an athletes village for the 2024 Olympics, and then as a potential soccer stadium for the New England Revolution. After both ideas fell through, UMass decided to put the site on the market.

    It’s one of several large parcels in and around Columbia Point that are changing hands and poised for redevelopment, including the old Boston Globe campus on Morrissey Boulevard and the Mary Ellen McCormack public housing complex in neighboring South Boston.

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