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Baker-Polito administration to expand Boston CEC and sell off Hynes Center

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is to submit legislation calling for the sale of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s Back Bay.

The idea of the sale would be to fund a necessary expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) in South Boston.

Boston’s Baker-Polito administration says the goal of consolidating Boston’s major convention business in one dynamic location will ensure the city continues to be a major global event destination.

The plan would open up a valuable parcel for redevelopment in the heart of the city and provide a financing plan for the BCEC expansion. 

“Boston is a popular convention destination, and there has been market demand for larger, more flexible event space in recent years. This expansion will meet demand, unlock greater economic potential, and support the creation of new jobs,” said Governor Baker.  “Our plan will make Boston’s convention space more efficient and maximise new economic opportunities.”

“This proposal will enable the BCEC to meet the changing demand for meeting and convention space in Boston without imposing an excessive burden on taxpayers, while at the same time making room for the creative transformation of a large and important section of the Back Bay neighborhood,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh is also backing the plan.

The Hynes opened in 1963 and was rebuilt in 1988 but is in need of major capital investments — estimated at nearly US$200m over the next 10 years just to maintain its current state.

The Hynes is also limited in its ability to expand its market share, given competition for nearby hotel rooms. At the same time, changes in neighborhood property uses and current market conditions have created value for the Boylston Street property, which could be put to more productive use through creative redevelopment.

The proposed legislation authorises 200,000 square feet (18,580sqm) of additional space, which is expected to include a 100,000-square-foot exhibit hall; a 60,500-square-foot ballroom; and 44,000 square feet in additional meeting rooms at BCEC.

Under the plan, MCCA employees who currently work at the Hynes would have the option of transitioning to the expanded BCEC.

John McDonnell, Chairman of the Board of the MCCA said: “The proposed expansion will ensure that the MCCA is meeting the needs of our customers and continuing to attract high quality convention business to the BCEC, and Boston, for years to come.”

A Master Planning and Feasibility Study RFP to determine future needs at the BCEC was launched back in 2017, with the MCCA selecting Populous Architects to lead the process.  

Once the legislation is enacted, the MCCA is expected to issue a Request for Proposals for the BCEC expansion project that would fire the starting gun for design projects for the expanded facility. 

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