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Posted on September 3, 2014


STATE HOUSE, BOSTON - The state went back out to bid Wednesday on a development opportunity above the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston's Back Bay, which would involving renovating a Green Line station.

Transportation Secretary Richard Davey told the News Service the redevelopment, known as Parcel 13, would make the Hynes Convention Center station accessible to people with disabilities and refurbish an old pedestrian tunnel that runs under Massachusetts Avenue.

Davey said the development at the corner of Mass. Avenue and Boylston Street would also reconnect the underground trolley station to Boylston Street. A disused old head house sits alongside the turnpike.

"We put this out to bid a few years ago," said Davey, who said there were no acceptable bids. The new request for proposals was dated Sept. 2 and appeared on the state's website on Wednesday.

The development opportunity would make use of air rights above the Massachusetts Turnpike before it dives under Boylston Street.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said there are 54,500 square feet of potential development space, and an additional requirement for the developer to enter into a station improvements agreement with the MBTA. The maximum build-out is 320,700 gross square feet.

Davey said a 2009 reform law made such a redevelopment more feasible because the turnpike and the MBTA are under MassDOT now. The parcel is located next to Boston Architectural College and a power substation, and would lie over both the T station and the turnpike, including an emergency ventilator. Across the street, Berklee College of Music is developing a performance center and student housing.

Samuels & Associates and Weiner Ventures are developing Parcel 12, which now consists of a bus shelter on an overpass above the turnpike, and Parcel 15 including air rights above the turnpike across Boylston Street. Those developments are described in bid documents as "a $360 million, 32-story, hotel, residential, and retail complex." On its website, Weiner said Parcel 12 along Massachusetts Avenue would include housing and an "exciting two-story swath of retail shops."

Unlike the diminishing open parcels on the South Boston waterfront or the vast expanse of the former freight yard in Allston, the air rights over the turnpike are nestled amid an established neighborhood that was built up years ago.

The subway station, originally construct in 1912 and 1914 and renovated in 1976, includes no elevators and an old entrance alongside the turnpike is disused as is the tunnel leading across the street. The MBTA "will require" the station to remain open during the construction, according to the request for proposals.

While the state will not "provide direct or indirect subsidies" for the development, the MBTA "will fund all design and construction costs" related to station improvements, according to the RFP. The document envisions a new recessed bus drop-off area, improved lighting in the station, and repairs to a leaky roof.

MassDOT said developers should "maximize opportunities arising from the inclusion" of the subway station, create open space and cover as much of the highway as possible.

A Boston Redevelopment Authority feasibility study determined there were limited areas to build foundations for the building. The proposals are due Nov. 7.