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Boston to put its dreaded tow lot up for sale

City officials are planning to put the entire 18-acre property along Frontage Road (bottom right) out to bid.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2014

Most Boston residents probably don’t think much about the public works yard in the shadow of the Southeast Expressway, unless their car is dragged off to the tow lot there.

That could be about to change. City officials are planning to put the entire 18-acre property along Frontage Road, close to the Broadway T station, out to bid in what could become a massive redevelopment opportunity.

As part of that effort, Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration needs the city council to vote that the land be deemed surplus, so it can be transferred to the Boston Planning Development Agency for disposal. (A similar process played out with the old Winthrop Square garage, now prepped for a Millennium-developed tower.)

It’s not as if the property — home to everything from storage for voting machines to public works trucks to towed vehicles — has been completely off the radar. The compound was a key part of the Boston 2024 committee’s stadium plan before the Olympics bid imploded. The Imagine Boston 2030 plan identified that part of the city for change. And it often comes up in discussions about where the Krafts can put their long-awaited New England Revolution soccer stadium.


During a council hearing today, no one mentioned the Revs or Boston 2024. (That latter topic still seems like a touchy one at City Hall.) Much of the 90-minute meeting focused on where the city’s various public works and transportation functions would go. They could stay on a portion of the site. The similarly sized Widett Circle property to the south could also be in play. Top Walsh aide Chris Osgood says something needs to happen soon. Upkeep is getting more expensive for the property’s aging structures; as if to make his point, the AC went out in one of the Frontage Road buildings this morning.

Heather Campisano, the BPDA’s chief of staff, says her agency is still crafting the bidding parameters; factors will likely include economic impact and climate resiliency. The goal is to cast a wide net, and be open to a range of possible projects. And yes, she says those parameters might accommodate an athletic facility, should one be in the mix.