Local Lawyer Outbids University For Yards, Will Not Name Backers

A Cambridge attorney has outbid the University by more than $1 million for the Bennett Street MTA Yards. Francis J. Roche turned in a high bid of $6,135,000. The University's offer was $5,010,000, and the firm of land-developer John Briston Sullivan bid $4,000,000.

Roche, who is the chairman of the Cambridge Democratic Committee and Briston Sullivan's attorney, declined to say which persons or firms he was representing.

Sources Surprised

Several sources indicated surprise that there were only four bids entered; according to Charles P. Whitlock, assistant to the President for Civic Affairs. "We expected a great many more bids." Whitlock said he had known of at least eight prospective bidders.

The property, which the University would have used for a tenth house and for taxable office space, was put up for bids by the MTA. It was heavily emphasized in all publicity that the MTA reserved the right to reject any and all all bids. This has led to at least one theory that the yards were put up for bids only to enable the MTA to determine the vicinity of a fair market price and then to engage in individual negotiations later.


Whitlock pointed out that "it is not known whom Roche represents." Roche not only declined to identify whom he was representing, but would not even confirm the fact that he would present specific proposals to the MTA trustees for use of the land this Tuesday.

All bidders had been asked for proposals with their bids, which were opened last Friday. Roche, who had sought an extension, was given until Tuesday to present his plans.

Sullivan last night spiked a rumor that Roche was really representing him. When asked whether he planned to apply any further presure on the MTA, he replied, "We'll see."

At least one official in Cambridge has suggested that if nothing else, the publicity from having entered such a bid has made it worth Roche's while. He was referring to headlines in local papers, such as that in the Cambridge Chronicle which read, "Attorney Roche Tops Harvard."

The University's plans call for two undergraduate houses to occupy 495,000 square feet of floor space, and another 1 million square feet in low three-to-seven story buildings and highrise towers, to contain one thousand apartments. There would also be several parking areas. Supposedly this development would give Cambridge $1 million a year in taxes.

The Sullivan plan calls for a 50-story star-shaped office building, which would include a hotel, restaurant, professional building, and 400-unit apartment building to be built at a cost of $45 million.

The fourth bid of $2,340,000 plus relocation costs was from Samuel P. Coffman, a Boston and Quincy attorney. The syndicate Coffman reportedly represents is willing to invest $20 million in apartments, a garage, and a huge shopping center.