USES Releases RFP for Tubman House

The United South End Settlements organizations (USES) has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) this week to the development community for its long-time headquarters at 566 Columbus Ave., known as the Harriet Tubman House.

USES President and CEO Maicharia Weir Lytle said they released the RFP in conjunction with their broker Newmark Knight Frank, and are looking for creative proposals that fall in line with USES’s mission – even though they would no longer be in the building.

USES announced earlier this fall that they would be exploring the sale of their Columbus Avenue building in order to bring the books out of the red, consolidate onto their existing Rutland Street campus and secure the organization’s future.

“The RFP is the next in the process of us looking at 566 Columbus Avenue,” she said. “We have issued the RFP and now we’ll look for the development community to put together creative proposals that will help the neighborhood with a public and community aspect…The key thing for us is we’re looking at this as the next phase. We are looking to expand the Rutland property a to build the new, new Harriet Tubman House…In the next iteration of our history, we are looking at re-building the Rutland campus.”

That will likely be accomplished by the sale of the Columbus Avenue property, which is in a prime location only about a five minute walk from Boston Symphony Hall, Tremont Street, Boston Medical Center and Northeastern University – to name a few.

The RFP, which is 24 pages long, highlights the location and the accessibility to public transportation, calling it a potential transit-oriented development.

“Given the asset’s superior location and the durable attractiveness of its South End neighborhood, 566 Columbus Avenue clearly represents an exceptional opportunity to acquire a highly desirable property,” read the RFP.

It said it is being marketed for sale on an unpriced basis, and the broker will begin giving tours of the property in the next several weeks to interested buyers.

Additionally, upon the request of USES, all responding parties are being instructed to incorporate within their response the inclusion of a mix of uses that offer significant public or community benefit. The pursuit of such public or community benefits is incorporated within the seller’s organizational mission and will be evaluated accordingly by the Board, Weir Lytle said.

She said she would expect any RFP would follow the zoning, which includes a height limit of 70 feet and has two parcels, one in a Community Commercial district and a smaller on in the Multifamily Residential district. In total, it is 23,513 square-feet of land.

“We’re not dictating any one thing for this RFP,” she said. “We hope people will get thorough, creative proposals for us to review and decide what will be most appropriate to the organization and the Board.”

There is no timeline now at the moment for making a decision, and Weir Lytle said they would review proposals as they came in. She said by this time next year, they should have an idea of what will happen with the property.

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