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The Point: Two Empire State Buildings


Greetings, Colleagues:

This week, we turn The Point, over to FSU President Steve Striffler, who has some incredibly important news regarding the former Bayside site, now renamed “Dorchester Bay City” by Accordia Partners.  It seems that the development has picked up speed and size in these months that we have been remote.  If you need a reminder of the fraught history of development on Columbia Point, here’s The Point we circulated a couple of months ago on the subject.  As always, we urge you to read the important work on the history of Columbia Point written by Executive Committee member Tim Sieber.  For now, here’s Steve:

As you may know, in September of 2020 Accordia Partners LLC submitted a Project Notification Form (PNF) to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA). Their “Dorchester Bay City” proposal outlines plans to develop the 19.94 acre Bayside Expo site (owned by UMass Boston – or, technically, the UMass Building Authority) along with 13 acres on the south side of Mt. Vernon Street (where Santander Bank currently stands)   This mixed-use development featuring 5,900,000 square feet of new building—roughly the size of two Empire State buildings on a very small plot of land—is currently under review by the BPDA as part of their Article 80 large project process and by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as part of its Chapter 91 Public Waterfront Act review process.

Attached is an Open Letter from a broad cross-section of UMass Boston groups, including the FSU and other campus labor unions, the Faculty Council, and student organizations, asking that the developers of “Dorchester Bay City” address a series of concerns about their proposal.  We do not oppose the redevelopment of this site—that is a fait accompli.  But neither can we support the Dorchester Bay City Proposal in its current form. We continue to keep our ears tuned to voices from the community we serve—Dorchester Not for Sale (@DotNot4Sale), for instance—as we try to understand the potential damage the development, as currently constituted, could cause.

Please read the attached—it’s quite informative.  There are deep problems with the proposal, including (but not limited to) the exclusion of key stakeholders from the process itself; the abysmal lack of affordable housing; the relative absence of employment and business opportunities for local residents; the omission of community facilities from the developer’s plan; and a climate change mitigation strategy that could be disastrous for neighboring communities. 

One thing.  It’s not good.  It is gigantic.  And it has received little, meaningful, scrutiny as our colleague Professor Ken Reardon made clear during a powerful presentation he made recently at the Faculty Council.

We submitted the attached letter on Friday (12/11/20) as part of the first phase of BPDA’s review process.

We also sent the letter to the Mayor, a range of city officials, our own Chancellor, President Meehan, and a number of university administrators–asking them to sign on to the letter and push for a more just development project.

Stayed tuned for the next steps in the effort to create a more just Dorchester Bay City and remember, this is your union: please tell us at how you think we should work to make sure this massive development project serves the common good.

Steve Striffler

FSU President

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