A developer has been recommended for old Boston State Hospital site

New Developments

A state-appointed committee has picked a development team for the final 10 acres at the long-shuttered Boston State Hospital site in Mattapan. The team’s proposal for one of the largest development sites left in Boston still needs final approval from the state.

A limited liability company led by Kirk Sykes, co-managing director of Boston-based Accordia Partners, and Toll Brothers, a Pennsylvania firm well-known for developing luxury single-family homes, are reportedly planning a mix of market-rate and affordable residences at the site, which is bounded by American Legion Highway and Morton, Harvard, and Walk Hill streets.

The project would have 367 units total in seven three-story buildings. Some 285 units would be rentals—with 66 of those designated as affordable—and 82 would be owner-occupied condos, according to The Bay State Banner, which broke the news of the winning bid.

An October 2019 version of the Sykes-Toll proposal also emphasizes connectivity within the complex and its surroundings.

“The site is designed to emphasize pedestrian and bike access with car access provided around the edges of the site with parking under the residential buildings,” the proposal said. (The final winning bid does not appear to be publicly available yet.)

The selection of the Sykes-led LLC and Toll Brothers by the Boston State Hospital Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) caps months of back and forth between the committee, the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), local leaders, and the six developers that were vying for it (as of the end of 2019.) The request for proposals went out last summer, the Banner reported, and the CAC last met via videoconference on April 29.

Five of those proposals called for some mix of housing. The last envisioned a kind of urban farming-business incubator hybrid for local businesses.

The CAC — which the Dukakis administration formed in the 1980s years after the former mental health hospital was shuttered — had asked developers to include housing for the elderly and a day care in their proposals,too, according to the Banner, though it’s unclear whether the winning bid includes those.

Skyes did not respond to a request for comment, and Toll Brothers declined to comment. DCAMM has to vet the committee’s selection before shovels can go in the ground. The pick has the support of local leaders. State Rep. Russell Holmes said he liked the proposal’s emphasis on pedestrian-friendly space and the commitment to providing a shuttle to and from the Orange Line at different times of day. These and the housing made the Sykes-Toll pitch particularly strong, Holmes said.

“I cannot even tell you how many phone calls I get to my office — pre-COVID — housing is the No. 1 issue I get in my office,” Holmes said. “Now it’s unemployment, but I’m sure when we remove the moratorium on evictions, housing will pop back to number one.”

The 367-unit project would join a rush of development on the old hospital site since shortly after the turn of the century. These projects have included the MassBiologics Phase I manufacturing facility, the 319-unit Olmsted Green (still under development), and the mixed-income Residences at Harvard Commons, which includes dozens of single-families with garages.

Sykes’ Accordia, for its part, is probably best known for its planned 5.9 million-square-foot redevelopment of two Dorchester parcels, including the 20-acre former Bayside Expo Center site, for which the developer and Ares Management Corp. acquired a 99-year ground lease from the University of Massachusetts in 2019 for $235 million. The other parcel — which is 12 acres and which the partnership acquired for $110 million last year — is across the street at 2 Morrissey Boulevard, according to the Dorchester News.

Sykes was also one of the people behind the 175-room Hampton Inn & Suites, part of the larger Boston Crosstown Center project in Roxbury and the first black-owned hotel in Boston.

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