What to do with the former Bayside Expo site? UMass wants ideas

Crews demolished the Bayside Expo Center in June 2016.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
Crews demolished the Bayside Expo Center in June 2016.

Could the property that was once home to the Bayside Expo Center be reimagined as Harvard Square?

One thing is for certain: When it comes to that prized swath of land, UMass Building Authority wants developers to think big.

The panel is looking to transform the nearly 20-acre waterfront site on Columbia Point into a destination like Harvard Square or Kenmore Square that would serve as a gateway to UMass Boston, according to a document soliciting ideas from developers released Tuesday.


Specifically, UMass envisions a private-public partnership that would create a neighborhood with “academic, research, retail, residential, dining, entertainment, and cultural uses,” according to the document.

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Officials hope development of the site will help distinguish the school as a “unique, attractive, urban university,” the document states.

The release of the document, officially known as a request for information, was first reported by The Dorchester Reporter.

In it, the authority notes that “Undeveloped sites the size of the Bayside Property in the Boston metro area are rare and may allow a developer significant pricing power.”

In past campus development plans, UMass considered using the property for more academic facilities, parking spaces, and additional student housing.


UMass is looking for developers to come up with a proposal that would connect the former Bayside property with the nearby main campus, maximize the property’s waterfront setting, including access to the harborwalk, improve traffic flow in the area, feature energy-efficient buildings, and include pedestrian and bike lanes.

The university also wants developers to engage local stakeholders, such as the Geiger-Gibson Community Health Center, St. Christopher’s Church, and Boston College High School, in planning future uses for the site.

The building authority bought the Bayside property in 2010 for $18.7 million, according to Tuesday’s document. Since then, the university has used the site for parking as parts of its campus were developed. The former expo center was torn down last year.

During Boston’s failed Olympic bid in 2015, the Bayside tract of land was eyed as a potential home for an athletes village.

Last April, UMass officials said building a soccer-specific stadium for the New England Revolution on the site was “not feasible.”


Responses to UMass’ request for information are due on Oct. 6.

Danny McDonald can be reached at