Related Beal Envisions Senior Care Facility, Retail and Affordable Housing for BFIT

The Related Beal company has filed a Letter of Intent with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) to redevelop the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) campus in the South End to a large senior care facility, affordable housing, offices and retail concepts.

The letter of intent was filed in mid-July, and the company indicated it would like file a Planned Development Area (PDA) plan and a Project Notification Form in the next 60 days – or by mid-September.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) on the process of developing such a significant site in Boston’s South End,” said Kimberly Sherman Stamler, President, Related Beal. “Our goal is to introduce a meaningful and diverse mix of uses to this vibrant and historic neighborhood, anchored by public realm improvements and activation, and look forward to further public conversations as we continue to shape this development plan.”

BFIT has already made an exit plan earlier this year to relocate to Harrison Avenue in Roxbury, and to continue their training programs and educational mission there for the foreseeable future. They had been in the South End in the same location since 1908. However, as their student population moved further from the South End, they saw an opportunity to sell their campus and find a more convenient location.

Related Beal quickly seized the opportunity, but for more than a year many have wondered what they would do with it. The LOI filed gives the first specifics of that intended plan. The uses include:

•A Senior Care Facility building of 210,000 sq. ft. with ground floor retail.

•An adaptive re-use of the Franklin Union building for 80,000 sq. ft. of commercial use and ground floor retail.

•A 20,000 sq. ft. affordable housing building with a 4,500 sq. ft. community room on the ground floor.

•An active campus made possible by considerable dedicated open spaces and significant ground floor retail.

The LOI also detailed a significant change to the way the campus looks, including access and open space and curb appeal.

“It will include a landscape design that will afford a positive impact to the South End through place-making,” read the letter. “New passages will connect the formerly inaccessible interior of the Project Site to surrounding routes and venues. The ground floor will include a continuous network of indoor and outdoor spaces, designed as both a destination and a pedestrian boulevard. This diverse, mixed-use Project will complement and enrich the historic urban fabric of the South End, preserving much of the existing structures on the Project Site while introducing new, contemporary and contextual design and extensive landscape and public realm improvements.”

The LOI also indicated the proposed development would not lose track of the historic nature and mission of the campus on Berkeley Street, which is within the Ellis South End Neighborhood Association. They are likely to have a major hand in the public review of the project after the documents are filed and the Article 80 process begins.

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