Thursday, February 29, 2024

The reboot on remaking the former Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse could start as soon as Friday, said Tim Toomey, the state representative and city councillor with the deepest ties to the East Cambridge neighborhood around the hulking building.

Since returning all developer bids and $100,000 deposits last week, state officials have been rewriting the official request for proposals and should have it ready and reposted this week, Toomey said. He expected the Division of Capital Management to give the developers 30 to 45 days to respond. (A delay of “no more than 60 days” was the division estimate last week.)

It’s not clear what will be different about the state’s request, which last time around brought eight bids from top developers — one rejected immediately and the other seven returned when the state “determined that six of the eight proposals did not fully comply with the financial disclosure requirements.”

“That’s what I’m waiting to see,” Toomey said Monday, after a council meeting, acknowledging the state may not have specified everything it needed “or the prospective developers didn’t include enough financial information for them.”

Chris Matthews, a landscape architect and board member for the East Cambridge Planning Team, said last week that he believes the problem was on the state side. “If you ask a question and get seven answers you don’t like, it’s your problem,” he said.

Now Matthews, Bob Simha, longtime chief planning officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Rhoda Fantasia of the Bullfinch House bed and breakfast are part of a team subcommittee to see whether the community can play a larger role in crafting the second round of proposals — Toomey hopes the second round includes buying the garage across the street from the 22-story tower (there are also three basement levels and a mezzanine). “Our focus is on outcome, whoever winds up the developer, that they put up something friendly to the neighborhood,” Simha said.

The state description of the problem as being one of “financial disclosure” suggests Boston Properties, Trinity Financial, The Congress Group and others might just refile their original proposals with additional financial information.

Still, most developers came before East Cambridge residents to pitch their projects and take questions, and “maybe they might have taken some of that back and incorporated some of that in their new proposal,” Toomey said.

The city has no official say in the selection of a developer, which was originally to be done early this summer and now looks to be done in August or September. The winning bid will eventually be revealed to the public; handling asbestos and any other hazardous material from the building, which was completed in 1974, is alone estimated at costing between $10 million and $16 million.