BPDA designates diverse partnership to create South Boston Waterfront life sciences hub aimed at diversifying Boston’s life sciences economy
Apr 14, 2022
The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board today voted to tentatively designate a joint venture between Related Beal, Boston Real Estate Inclusion Fund (BREIF) and Kavanaugh Advisory Group to redevelop the BPDA-owned site at 20 and 22 Drydock Avenue in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park (RLFMP) in the South Boston Waterfront. The proposal plans to create a new life sciences/research and development hub, aimed at diversifying Boston’s life sciences sector by offering opportunities for job training.
Like all BPDA-owned parcels in the City of Boston, the selected development team was required to meet the BPDA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion evaluation criterion, and outline commitments to including Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBEs) in all aspects of their development. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) criteria was weighted at 25 percent of the total evaluation of the proposal. The overall development team is comprised of 45 percent M/WBE firms, and 100 percent of the team has committed to obtaining M/WBE participation throughout their respective responsibilities. The Boston Real Estate Inclusion Fund (“BREIF”) is a specialized real estate investment vehicle that aims to provide people of color with unprecedented access to invest in transformative projects in mature markets from which they have been historically excluded. The fund is aiming to be comprised of at least 51 percent investors from diverse backgrounds.
“We look forward to working with this development team to create another opportunity for job growth in the life sciences industry, especially among communities that have been historically marginalized,” said BPDA Director Brian Golden. “This partnership is another example of the BPDA’s goal to use public land for public good.”
The RFP for this parcel was released in April 2021. It encouraged proposals to include uses that are consistent with furthering the BPDA’s commitment to promote maritime economic development and the retention and creation of job opportunities within the existing zoning and regulatory framework. Respondents were encouraged to submit proposals that are compatible with the RLFMP Master Plan Update, as well as current zoning, while also demonstrating an innovative approach to achieving exceptional public benefits.
The joint ventures proposal specifies an innovative, class A, seven story, 319,000 gross square foot life science facility. The project will achieve the highest standard in sustainability and resiliency, obtaining core and shell LEED Platinum designation and zero net carbon impact and will thoughtfully elevate the ground floor and all critical infrastructure above future flood plain levels and contribute to the broader BPDA initiated RLFMP Climate Resiliency Fund.
The project will foster interest and employment opportunities in the life sciences industry among diverse populations, which will in turn diversify the life sciences sector and the overall economy in Boston. On the first floor of the proposed project will be the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute (GMGI). This non-profit will target underprivileged and BIPOC communities for training as technicians in biotech and biomanufacturing laboratories. This facility will also allow the expansion of GMGI’s middle and high school STEM education programs, which will be targeting local Boston students.
As the RLFMP has become an increasingly attractive location for the expansion of Boston’s life science lab sector, the BPDA issued the RFP for this site to capture opportunities offered by the current market. Since these industrial uses are in line with years of careful planning for the future of the RLFMP, and because the land is publicly owned, the BPDA is in a unique position to leverage this highly valuable real estate to achieve the best possible economic and community development outcomes for the City of Boston.
Since adopting DEI criteria in 2018, 16 RFPs have been released with the DEI requirements, and ten have been designated. A core value of the BPDA’s real estate practice is to use public property to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a result, the RFP required respondents to submit a detailed, impactful and implementable Diversity and Inclusion Plan for establishing and overseeing a minority outreach program aimed at creating increased opportunities for people of color and women.