Rooney confident Baker will green light BCEC expansion


BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Convention officials said Friday they are moving ahead with a $1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center even as the Baker administration is investigating whether to follow-through with the project.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) received eight proposals for project managers, 14 proposals for design of a garage, and authority officials expect architectural firms with enough experience will bid to design the expansion.

The Legislature last summer authorized $1 billion in bonds to expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center by about 1.3 million square feet. The BCEC is already the largest building in New England, and Gov. Charlie Baker said he wants to review the proposal before deciding whether to proceed.

After a meeting of an expansion committee on Friday, MCCA Executive Director James Rooney expressed confidence that the Baker administration would see the value of the project.

“I have a high level of confidence that having gone through the rigorous scrutiny we went through for the past five years answering many of the same questions that people are asking with respect to the financing plan – just being asked by different people – that the review will find that both the numbers add up and this is a value-added project,” Rooney told reporters.

The overall architectural bids were due Friday and MCCA consultant Howard Davis said he expects large firms from out of state to partner with local firms on their bids. MCCA is separately seeking bids for a hotel project proposed with the Massachusetts Port Authority on Massport land.

Rooney said the Baker administration’s review will not delay the project, and said officials from the administration and the MCCA met on Monday following the release of the governor’s budget.

Jennifer Sullivan, the assistant secretary for capital finance in the Office of Administration and Finance, is the administration’s appointee to the board. She previously worked for the law firm McCarter & English.

In February, the MCCA announced the hire of Dante Angelucci, Jr. as its deputy director for development and construction, overseeing the expansion project. A former prosecutor, Angelucci was a senior vice president and partner at Leggat McCall Properties.

Davis, who previously held the position, said during the search for a construction director he encountered Angelucci at the Post Office Square parking garage and thought he would be a great hire.

While MCCA is seeking fast construction of a basic parking garage on E Street, its plans for a parking facility on D Street are more ambitious, aiming to create a building that could be reused for something other than parking in the future. Davis called it “the ultimate in green approaches,” and said it has attracted attention from architects.

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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