Boston mayoral candidate State Represenative Martin J. Walsh announced a proposal Sunday to sell City Hall Plaza to a private developer and relocate government services to a yet-to-be-determined site downtown.
“This area must evolve from a 9 to 5 weekday government-dependent culture, to a culture economically driven to add value 24/7 to surrounding businesses and neighborhoods,” Walsh said in a statement from his campaign.
He estimated City Hall could fetch between $125 and $150 million. Putting it under private ownership, he said, would generate another $10 to $12 million a year in property tax revenue.
According to the statement, the city would invest the generated revenue into universal early education programs, parks, public art, as well as a “rainy-day” fund. Residents, he said, would also have input about how the money would be spent.
“The city will be positioned to pay for many of the services citizens have told me they want,” the statement said.
The existing City Hall, a drab, concrete building that many consider an eyesore, would be replaced by a development, including hotel, office, retail, and residential spaces, his campaign said.
Boston’s new City Hall would be built on public or private property somewhere within the Government Center, Downtown Crossing, or Financial District areas, he said. The site would be close to the MBTA and other services.
It would be built, paid for, and owned by a private developer, which would be selected through a bid process, Walsh said. The developer, he said, would receive a fixed return on a 20- to 40-year lease.
The city would receive an estimated $5 to $6 million in tax revenue during the period of the lease. And, he said, once the lease expires, the property would be sold to the city for $1.
“While many discussions in recent years have concentrated on relocating City Hall, the opportunity exists to discuss a plan that instead drives economic growth,” Walsh’s statement said. “A 21st century economy has emerged, and the new mayor must refocus the development to the core economic engine of the city, the downtown.”