Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) announced an amendment to its institutional master plan (IMP) that would create three new buildings, including an 18-story “endowment” tower, on the corner of Huntington Avenue and Ruggles and Parker streets.
WIT spokespeople sat at a community task force meeting March 12 that they hoped the amendment would be filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) by the end of March, following a request to rezone the area. That BRA filing has not yet been made, according to BRA project manager Katelyn Sullivan.
“They are still working on putting together a document,” Sullivan told the Gazette.
The site, currently the location of Sweeney Field, would be redeveloped to create a six-story, 97,400-square-foot engineering and technology building, a new six-story WIT and community office building and an 18-story “endowment” building, to be leased to a third party, WIT representatives said.
An “endowment” building or campus means that WIT, the owner, would use the income from a long-term lease to fund potential new projects. At the end of the lease, both the land and the building would belong to WIT. There is no specific tenant for the site and no timeline for when the project might happen. Emmanuel College already has an “endowment campus” and the Winsor School is in the process of creating one.
The tower is planned to be a “dry lab”—that is, a lab that would be technology-oriented, not medical-research-oriented, said WIT lawyer Jim Greene.
“They’re looking for entrepreneurs,” he said at the meeting.
Half of the site’s area would be kept as open space, and is planned to be open to the community. There would also be an underground 490-space parking garage on the site.
Sweeney Field is a soccer field and outdoor sports facility. Those uses would move to a new sports facility planned for a Parker Street parking lot in as part of WIT’s long-range plan.
The project would require rezoning and is currently under review by the City Zoning Commission. WIT spokespeople said at the meeting that the area would need to be rezoned from institutional to a community commercial district. By making that change, WIT would also need to file a planned development area (PDA) plan in addition to the IMP amendment.
WIT had previously mentioned the possibility of the Sweeney Field project during planning sessions for its IMP in 2011.
An IMP is a comprehensive development plan that describes an institution’s existing facilities, long-range planning goals and proposed projects. The institution must update and renew its IMP periodically and must amend it whenever it adds or changes any project significantly. The IMP serves as zoning approval for all its projects. A PDA functions in much the same way, except it applies to private and commercial developments.
WIT’s IMP and other planning materials are available at wit.edu/imp.