Boston Mayor Walsh Announces Request for Ideas for the Activation of 555 Columbia Road at No Cost


BOSTON – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the release of a Request for Ideas (RFI) for the short-term activation of 555 Columbia Rd., the former Bank of America building in Upham’s Corner near the Strand Theatre.

As the city focuses on long-term improvements in Upham’s Corner, identified through Imagine Boston 2030, and being implemented through the Upham’s Corner Implementation (UCI), the RFI will provide an opportunity for short-term activation to utilize the currently vacant space at no cost to the selected operator.

This activation is part of a neighborhood-wide short-term activation strategy to deliver public and community benefit through opportunities for local artists to showcase their work, platforms for small businesses and/or for small community gatherings and events.

A concurrent effort to identify concepts for co-development of city-owned assets across Boston is underway to explore how the City could potentially utilize its capital assets to spur the development of additional housing for Boston residents, while improving the infrastructure conditions of City buildings through redevelopment.

“It is important that as we plan for the future, we are making the best use of the spaces we currently have and using them in a way that meets the current needs of residents,” said Mayor Walsh. “With the right activation in place, we believe this model could contribute to the immediate revitalization of Upham’s Corner, and I look forward to seeing the ideas that will bring this space back to life.”

Imagine Boston 2030 calls for investments in housing, small businesses and transportation, and for the creation of the city’s first Arts Innovation District in Upham’s Corner.

Upham’s Corner serves as an example of Imagine Boston 2030’s concepts carried out to enhance the city’s neighborhoods. As part of the launch of the plan last July in Upham’s Corner, Mayor Walsh announced the site of 555 Columbia Rd. will be the site of a new $18 million Upham’s Corner library branch in years to come, as part of the Imagine Boston 2030 Capital Plan. A community conversation is currently underway for the new library as a part of the Upham’s Corner Implementation process.

The City of Boston is interested in finding a partner with ties to the Boston community to program the space. All responses should serve the public; include arts, innovation, small businesses and/or community groups; and begin programming in the summer of 2018.

The space at 555 Columbia Rd. will be delivered “as is” to the selected operator, and any modifications would be the responsibility of the selected operator. In addition, the selected operator would be responsible for all operational and maintenance costs, including utilities, security, cleaning and day-to-day needs.

The selected operator will be required to provide monthly reports of all programming and events; attend all relevant meetings regarding the Upham’s Corner Activation strategy; and participate in any marketing and visibility associated with greater Upham’s Corner activation strategy.

“DSNI is all about community engagement. Our partnership with the city further promotes our value of ‘development without displacement’ and demonstrates how powerful such collaborations can be when residents are at the planning table,” said Tony Hernandez, DNI Director of Operations & Stewardship. “It’s the way city and community should interact and Upham’s Corner will be the recipient of this revival process and shine as such for all to see. The intentions behind the former Bank of America building by the City and its uses in the short term aligns with the values of our community engagement and empowerment.”

Currently, DSNI is hosting a Pop-UP Pop-IN series at 572 Columbia Road (Former Citizens Bank) to creatively engage the community in the planning process for the future development of their recently acquired Community Land Trust building.

The RFI is available here, and responses are due by 5:00 p.m. on May 4, 2018. The city will host a walk-through at the space on April 12 from 3-7pm and April 18 from 8-11am. Responses to this Request for Ideas will not necessarily result in any operator selection.

For more information on the Upham’s Corner Implementation process, please visit here.