A sea of asphalt around the MBTA’s North Quincy Station could soon become a mixed-use development with retail shops and apartments, under a proposal approved Monday by the board that oversees the transit authority.
The proposal is part of an effort by the financially beleaguered Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to cash in on valuable real estate, general manager Frank DePaola said.
The plan still faces a separate approval process in Quincy, but if it’s allowed, a 99-year lease would add about $230 million in revenue to the MBTA’s coffers — while preserving the same number of commuter parking spaces now at the site.
The plan also follows the trend of so-called transit-oriented development, which has led to developments sprouting near bustling T stops. Housing is under construction at other stations near North Quincy on the Red Line, including JFK/UMass and Quincy Adams. Such developments increase access to public transit and potentially increase ridership — a critical concern as the T seeks to bring in more revenue.
“The revenue it generates for the T is substantial,” said Brian Lang an MBTA Fiscal & Control Board member and president of Boston’s hotel and food service union.
But while $230 million would be a hefty payday, the deal would be less than a windfall for the T. Spread over the 99-year life of the lease, the cash value of the plan is more like $20 million today. The $500,000 lease payments would not begin until at least a year into the deal.
DePaola acknowledged the total dollar value may not be as much as some anticipated, but he said the project was approved through a fair bidding process that attracted a variety of developers — two of which raised their final offers.
In the end, a joint bid by Bozzuto Group, of Boston, and Atlantic Developers, of Hingham, was selected.
The $205 million plan includes more than 600,000 square feet of residential space — 579 units — along with retail and parking. The heavily trafficked 852 surface parking spaces on which the development would be built would still be available to the T — inside a 1,307-space garage.
The proposal still needs Quincy’s approval. A spokesman for Mayor Tom Koch said a lengthy review awaits. Angst among some neighbors, said Quincy’s director of policy and information, Chris Walker, helped kill a similar proposal for the North Quincy site more than a decade ago.
Walker said the mayor “sees the potential of that corridor.” But while the proposal earned the T’s backing, it’s yet to be determined whether it would work for the city, Walker said.
In other business, the control board heard a presentation about a possible pilot project that would offer low income riders reduced fares. A proposal is due in the next several months.