UMass Buys Land for New Parking Site

WORCESTER — The University of Massachusetts Medical School has acquired 27 acres of state land on Plantation Street and plans to build a parking garage for about 1,300 cars.

The deal gives UMass room to accommodate parking for faculty, staff and students when it opens the 500,000-square-foot Albert Sherman Center for research in 2012 on the UMass campus. It also creates space for a local development organization to build a 100,000-square-foot medical research building.

“Parking is key, and having the new parking garage comalte on line as the Sherman center comes on line, that’s what we wanted,” said Mark L. Shelton, a spokesman for the medical school.

The land is a small piece of a sprawling, hilly area that was once part of Worcester State Hospital. The state began turning over many of the psychiatric hospital’s parcels in the 1980s to the Worcester Business Development Corp., a local development organization.

The WBDC developed a number of buildings to create a biotechnology office and research park, but the parcel now destined for a parking garage has remained undeveloped.

“We always felt we didn’t quite complete the park,” said David P. Forsberg, WBDC president.

Under the current deal, the WBDC acquired 32 acres on the western side of Plantation Street from the state for $1.06 million. The land extends north of biotech buildings owned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. and is about one-third of a mile from the UMass campus.

The WBDC then sold all but 5 acres of the parcel to UMass for $1.06 million, Worcester County Registry of Deeds records show. Mr. Forsberg said the WBDC hopes to develop a research building on its parcel, when market conditions are right.

“We’re not poised to build, but we’re getting ready to do so,” Mr. Forsberg said.

The WBDC also retained rights to a nearby site for possible development into more building and parking space, the WBDC reported.

The cost and design of the parking garage is undetermined at this time, according to Mr. Shelton. Work on the site should begin this spring, and it will take about 18 months to build the garage, he said.