MTA Yards to Be Sold; Harvard Still Bidding

It's spring, and the MTA Yard Sweepstakes are on again. The Metropolitan Transit Authority once more is interested in selling the Bennet Street repair yards, and Harvard still is interested in buying.

If no "mystery backers" materialize this year, the University may be able to purchase the valuable land as a site for the Tenth House.

The MTA plans to dispose of the yards sometime this summer, Cambridge City Councillor Daniel J. Hayes, Jr, said yesterday, after a conference with the MTA trustees.

Hayes explained that if the State Legislature votes through the $50 million West Cambridge extension to the Arlington-Belmont line, the MTA will definitely sell the Bennett Street Yards and transfer the repair facilities to a new location.

"If extension of the West Cambridge line is not voted, the MTA trustees plan to sell all but the 25 per cent of the yards occupied by the repair shops and to grant air rights over that area," Hayes stated.


Thomas H. D. Mahoney, another Cambridge Councillor at the conference with MTA officials, also said that the sale of the Yards this summer is "very likely."

In last year's bidding for the Bennett Street Yards, Harvard offered $5,010,000 and a $30 million taxable development. This bid was topped by a $7.6 million offer from Boston attorney Samuel F. Coffman. Coffman claimed to have important financial backers behind him, but he consistently refused to reveal their identity.

Cambridge's favorite breakfast daily played "Name The Mystery Backer" last year, but went down swinging.

Placez vos Jeux

Informed last night that the Yards may be sold, Coffman said, "I didn't know anything about it, but I'll talk to my people again."

If bids are reopened, there is a chance that new entries may complicate odds on the sweepstakes. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is believed to be interested in the land, says Hayes. Cambridge developer John Briston Sullivan, a $4 million bidder last year, said last night that he is also back in the running.

Cloudy Horizons

Harvard will probably run into a number of stumling blocks when new bidding is opened. Last year it was evident that at least one of the three MTA trustees strongly opposed University acquisition of the Yards. There is also significant opposition on the Cambridge, City Council to Harvard's ownership of the eminently taxable land. These local forces could try to influence bidding in favor of a private developer.