Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jailhouse Chic: Cambridge Courthouse Destined for Apartments

Seven suitors stepped forward for the chance to redevelop the old Edward J. Sullivan Middlesex Courthouse in East Cambridge into an apartment tower. However, the state has rejected all seven proposals to redevelop the 22-story, 595,000-square-foot tower on Thorndike Street. The state’s Department of Capital Asset Management determined that it was in the best interest of the commonwealth to issue a revised RFP.

Last month, seven commercial real estate firms filed competing plans with the state’s Department of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) to redevelop the 22-story Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse. Among the teams that met the deadline included Amerimar Acquisition, Boston Properties, The Congress Group, The Gutierrez Company., HYM Investmemnt Group, Leggat-McCall Properties and Trinity Financial. An eighth developer, Bulfinch Thorndike Investors LLC, was rejected early in the process.

Responding to a request for proposals, prominent developers in late February put forth plans that would have mixed rental apartments with thousands of new square feet of retail and green space as well as parking; and all swore off lab space. Still, the state said no a month later and returned deposits.

In a letter to the developers, Dana Harrell, acting deputy commissioner of real estate, read to a BBJ reporter by one of the recipients, said, “The commonwealth has elected to reject all proposals which were submitted in response to the RFP dated Nov. 2 for the Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse at 40 Thorndike St. in Cambridge.

DCAM has determined that it is in the best interest of the commonwealth to reissue a revised RFP and all interested parties are invited to submit proposals. This is an opportunity for your team to review and revise your proposal if you wish to do so. Within a few days, revised RFP information will be posted on the DCAM website.”

The state has now set a new date for bids, May 14, but the target date for closing a deal with a developer, July 1. The state, then, expects that this latest round of proposals will produce a developer willing to undertake the asbestos removal necessary to start any redevelopment and deal with community concerns surrounding the scope and size of any new project.

And, as for those in the community (who don't really have a say on which developer wins the bid as the state controls the courthouse's fate), they are still pushing the idea of housing coupled with green space and, of course, parking.

Also identical this time around: the moving day for the jailbirds. The state would commit to moving them by Dec. 31, 2013.