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Private school lands $20.4 bond for cemetery land redevelopment

March 9, 2021 : Boston Business Journal, by Gintautas Dumcius

A private school in Cambridge is using proceeds from a $20.4 million bond to buy a 6.1-acre property in Watertown that was owned by Mount Auburn Cemetery.

MassDevelopment, a quasi-public state development agency, said this week it issued the tax-exempt bond on behalf of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School. It was purchased by First Republic Bank.

The site is set to become home to two athletic fields, a field house and 80 parking spaces. The site is across the street from the cemetery and has been used as employee parking for Mount Auburn Hospital. Both the school and Watertown will have access to the site once it's redeveloped.

“Building the students and families at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School modern athletic facilities while affording more facilities in general to Watertown and other communities is exactly the type of project that MassDevelopment is excited to be a part of,” Dan Rivera, the agency’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“Our $20 million tax-exempt bond will help Buckingham Browne & Nichols School achieve its goal of improving the student experience and continuing to be a good partner to surrounding communities,” he added.

The school, which includes pre-kindergarten through grade 12, has 1,013 students who hail from 77 cities and towns. Created through the merger of two Cambridge schools, Buckingham Browne & Nichols has campuses close to Cambridge’s Harvard Square and one near the Charles River.

The lot included four parcels at 165-183 Grove Street, near the Cambridge-Watertown line. The agreement between the school and Mount Auburn Cemetery was reached last year.

“To bring together the cemetery, an independent school and two towns during a pandemic to create open space for both communities is pretty exciting,” Jennifer Price, head of school for BB&N, told the Business Journal last year.

The school has a long list of alumni, including Fidelity Investments' Abigail Johnson, real estate developer and manager John Rosenthal, singer-songwriter Rachel Platten, Massachusetts General Hospital President Peter Slavin, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, and comedian Mindy Kaling.