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MassDevelopment and Urban Land Institute Boston District Council Partner to Assist Fall River, Fitchburg

July 19, 2011

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077
Matt Ellis, Urban Land Institute, 617-278-6560

Boston, MA – MassDevelopment will partner with the Boston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to bring expertise in real estate planning, design, finance and marketing to Fall River and Fitchburg as part of ULI Boston’s Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) program.

The pro bono consulting by ULI Boston members provides objective, expert advice to municipal and community-based organizations on the feasibility, design, and/or implementation of development initiatives at no charge to the communities. Fitchburg was the first community chosen in this new partnership, and MassDevelopment expects to work with additional cities over the next year.

“The Urban Land Institute is a longtime expert partner in municipal real estate development, and we’re pleased these historically industrial cities can benefit from the organization's experience,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones.

ULI Boston’s Executive Director, Stephanie Wasser, confirmed her organization’s commitment to assist these cities and towns, “ULI Boston has a long track record of providing pro bono expertise through its Technical Assistance Panels throughout the state, and we’re very excited about this partnership with MassDevelopment.”

The program targets organizations or municipalities that have limited staff or financial resources. Once a project has been designated for a TAP, ULI Boston will assemble a team of senior local professionals for a day-long charette concluding with their recommendations. Sponsoring organizations or municipalities provide project background in advance, in the form of briefing books, so the panelists can quickly grasp the issues. The TAP program allows organizations with limited resources to focus local ULI members’ expertise on a specific problem at a nominal cost.

“The Fall River Office of Economic Development is excited to be part of the TAP process to take the opportunity to focus on a key area of the city that has previously been one of the less highlighted areas,” said Fall River Office of Economic Development Project Director Michele Paul. “Through this TAP, we hope to develop a reuse and marketing strategy for one of the City’s most beautiful areas along the South Watuppa Pond. The high caliber of past TAP panelists is quite impressive and we welcome the opportunity to be a part of this valuable program.”

In September 2006, MassDevelopment’s municipal real estate services staff helped facilitate a national panel of experts from ULI in Springfield. Since that time, MassDevelopment has worked closely with city leaders on the panel’s recommendations, from managing the remediation and clearance of a prominent waterfront site to planning and conducting feasibility studies for neighborhood revitalization. Redeveloping the former federal building at 1550 Main Street was also a key recommendation of the panel.

Beginning in 2009, MassDevelopment purchased the 150,000 square-foot building from the U.S. General Services Administration for $2.5 million, renamed it “1550 Main,” and rehabilitated the interior, façade, and exterior plaza.

The Urban Land Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and education organization supported by its members. The Boston District Council, now with nearly 1100 members, holds a prominent spot in the Urban Land Institute’s top five District Councils nationally. ULI Boston provides a unique membership opportunity including all sectors, disciplines and product types within the real estate industry. Using this interdisciplinary approach, ULI examines land use issues, impartially reports findings, and convenes forums to find solutions.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2010, MassDevelopment financed or managed 238 projects in 104 communities across the state generating investment of nearly $1.4 billion in the Massachusetts economy.