The City of Somerville received 10 responses to the Somerville Redevelopment Authority’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a Union Square and Boynton Yards master developer partner, with several respondents displaying previous experience of working within existing urban neighborhoods to create new mixed-use, transit-oriented developments.
The master developer partner will work with the city, the Redevelopment Authority, current property owners and community members to design and implement the first phase of the Union Square Revitalization Plan including the redevelopment of seven key parcels identified in the plan. The master developer partner will be selected by the criteria listed in the RFQ with the aim of achieving the community’s goals set forth in SomerVision and preserving Union Square’s history and unique character.
The respondents, in alphabetical order, are:
The Abbey Group: Developer of the Landmark Center and 1282 Boylston Street, both in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.
The Community Builders: Developer of Tent City and Langham Court, both in Boston’s South End.
The Fallon Company: Master developer of Fan Pier in the Fort Point neighborhood of South Boston and developer of nearby Park Lane Seaport and Vertex Pharmaceuticals building.
Gerding Edlin: Master developer of The Brewery Blocks and South Waterfront Central District, both in Portland, OR.
The HYM Investment Group: Master developer of North Point on the Somerville-Cambridge line and the Government Center Garage in Boston.
KSS Realty Partners and RedGate Real Estate: Co-developers of Maxwell’s Green in Somerville. KSS is developing the Lead Mills site in Marblehead and RedGate is developing Boardwalk Residences at Marina Bay in Quincy.
Magellan Development Group: Master developer of Lakeshore East and developer of the Chicago Youth Program Center at Washington Park, both in Chicago.
National Development and Federal Realty Investment Trust: National Development has been developer of Longwood Center in Boston is developing the Ink Block in Boston’s South End. Federal Realty Investment Trust is the master developer of Assembly Row in Somerville and Santana Row in San Jose, CA.
Samuels and Associates: Developer of several blocks along Boylston Street and Brookline Avenue in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston and to create an urban village consistent with the neighborhood’s master plan concept, and of Barry’s Corner in North Allston.
Trinity Financial: Master developer of Hamilton Canal District in Lowell and, in Boston’s Bulfinch Triangle, developer of the adjacent Avenir and One Canal Street.
The selection process for the master developer will be conducted jointly by the Somerville Redevelopment Authority, the Union Square Civic Advisory Committee (composed of area residents, advocates and business owners), and City staff. The process will begin with an evaluation by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development of each respondent’s qualifications and subsequent identification of a short list of qualified candidates. Those finalists will be interviewed by the Redevelopment Authority, Civic Advisory Committee and City staff, and then invited to submit proposals for the project for the final evaluation.
Criteria used to evaluate the respondents include the financial capacity to complete the project, experience with large-scale projects that incorporate commercial, residential and institutional uses in a complex and dense urban setting, demonstrable success in the highest standards of sustainability and environmental sensitivity, and working with contaminated sites.
Respondents will also be evaluated on proven ability to create a sense of community and place, embracing the existing eclectic elements that define an area, experience conducting public charrette design processes, and past success in using large-scale, mixed-use development projects as a means of formulating a community benefits and mitigation package, especially in providing new employment opportunities for local residents.
“I’m encouraged that we received responses from renowned developers with impressive credentials and a proven track record in building exactly what the community seeks in Union Square—true mixed-use developments that create office, retail and community space and residences centered around public transportation, while blending with an existing urban neighborhood,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Now begins the work of carefully reviewing every response and developer. We will ensure that as we capitalize on the tremendous potential within Union Square and achieve the community’s goals as laid out in SomerVision, that we retain the character and vibrancy that already exists in this historic neighborhood.”
“This is an important first step, attracting developers with the expertise and resources to turn the community’s vision for the future of Union Square into brick and mortar,” said Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston. “As we strive to create more jobs in our neighborhood, more and diverse homes that ease the housing crunch and more commercial space that eases the tax burden on all property owners, it’s critical we hold true to our community’s vision for Union Square.”
“The opportunities we have in Union Square to make a significant, positive impact on our city’s future don’t come along very often, so it’s important we get this right, and that means carefully scrutinizing each respondent to the RFQ and collaboratively shaping the neighborhood’s future,” said Ward 3 Alderman Bob McWatters. “I anticipate a diligent process that equally weighs all the factors—not just the economic opportunities, but in building a true transit-oriented Somerville neighborhood.”
“We have a lot of work ahead of us. I am heartened to see a strong response from developers, which means that the city and the Civic Advisory Committee will have a lot of substance to review and many choices to consider. Ultimately we need to determine which of the developers and proposals, if any, have the greatest potential to realize Union Square’s future while carefully protecting its history and its truly vibrant current character,” said Wig Zamore, chairman of the Union Square Civic Advisory Committee. “Whoever takes on this task must serve that balance. The Civic Advisory Committee’s broad variety of residents, business owners and community activists will work together to hold developers who are deemed most responsive to the high standards and goals we all have for the neighborhood.”
The Somerville Redevelopment Authority released the RFQ in December after determining that partnering with a master developer provides the best course to realizing the community’s values and goals for Union Square, which include housing with a range of affordability, green and sustainable development, more public green space, walkable and bikeable streets, office space that creates permanent jobs, and a true mixed-use neighborhood that seamlessly blends with the neighborhood and retains Union Square’s identity. The master developer partner will be required to work closely with current property owners to explore opportunities for the joint development of parcels designated in the plan and for the establishment of a mutually agreed upon fair market value for any acquired parcel. The goals for the neighborhood were developed over several years, hundreds of meetings and community processes, including the 20-year comprehensive SomerVision plan, the Union Square rezoning approved in 2009 and the Union Square Revitalization Plan approved in 2012.