Hynes Convention Center Sale Hits Political Roadblock
The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is banking on selling the aging Back Bay conference facility to fund a $500M expansion of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in the Seaport. But the Hynes sale needs legislative approval, and Massachusetts leaders are concerned by the impact it would have on the surrounding Back Bay neighborhood.
State Sen. Marc Pacheco and Rep. Danielle Gregoire, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight, indicated they wouldn’t support the sale unless more neighborhood stakeholders weighed in, the Boston Globe reports. In a Monday hearing, Pacheco said he was misled that the deal had universal support and told Colliers executives Frank Petz and Tom Hynes to work on the political problem.
Neighborhood groups like the Back Bay Association and the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay have argued they have been left out of the sale talks. The Back Bay Association claims it found out about the sale when it made the news in September, according to the State House News Service.
While the potential sale would fund a long-awaited BCEC expansion that Baker previously canceled, it would also take away a key piece of business for Back Bay hotel operators. Thousands of hotel rooms split among the Sheraton Boston Hotel, Westin Copley Place and Marriott Copley Place are connected to the Hynes Convention Center.
Pacheco and Gregoire said more needs to be done to court neighbors like the Back Bay Association, which wants 150K SF of meeting space included in any future redevelopment of the Hynes.
But MCCA Executive Director David Gibbons maintained Monday his group is not rushing the sale like it has been accused of doing. There have been 80 public meetings with stakeholders, he said.
The various parties have until the legislative session ends July 31 to strike a deal.