This continually updated timeline of the North 40 project tracks its history and progress.
The North 40 was originally donated to the college under a restriction that it be used to support the academic mission. For many years, the trustees and leadership of Wellesley College tried to find appropriate uses for the parcel. Although many uses were suggested over 141 years, the College always found space on the main campus that better suited those needs. The College has enough space on its core campus to support future academic needs and the location of the parcel makes it difficult to use safely. Given the analysis that showed openness to reconsidering the restriction, the College pursued this important opportunity to support funding of the Campus Renewal plan.
The College explored using the North 40 for a continuing-care retirement community, and was granted permission from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) for a 60-year lease for that purpose. However, plans stalled in a down economy.
A plan proposed in the early 90s intended for academics-related uses–including a proposal for faculty housing–proved to be not economically feasible, and posed safety and cost concerns. The North 40 parcel is separated from the core campus by heavy infrastructure, making transportation to and from the core campus unsafe and inconvenient.
1998: The Campus Master Plan identified four possible uses for North 40: athletic fields (instead built next to Paintshop pond), a book repository, additional faculty housing, or 700-800 parking spaces for event parking, none of which proved optimum.
2007: The Comprehensive Facilities Plan concluded that the College has adequate space, but that its space is not always utilized efficiently, that too much of it is not in acceptable condition, and the Plan estimated that the College would need to invest $500M+ (in 2007 dollars) just to update building systems without providing for restructured facilities to accommodate modern programming. Subsequent planning efforts (2011-2012) and as part of the Campus Renewal Plan confirmed this assessment and identified a renewal need significantly larger than the number identified in 2007.
2009: In planning for the College’s future, the Trustee Real Estate Task Force began a deliberate process of reviewing College-owned property; after thorough analysis the task force recommended that several properties that were not supporting the College’s mission including the North 40, be sold or leased.
The College has acquired or been given an additional 180 acres of land since the time of the Durant Indenture and Will, including 10 acres in 2010. This acreage provides significant College expansion opportunities if needed.
November 2013 The Board of Trustees approved the Campus Renewal plan with a $365+budget million; and the College began. roll-out meetings.
March: The College meets with the town to inform them of its plans to file a petition with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) seeking to remove the deed restrictions that precluded the sale of the North 40.
April: Wellesley College officials informs the Wellesley Board of Selectmen, College alumnae, and neighbors about its filing of the petition.
April 23: The College sends a letter to neighbors notifying them of its intent to sell the North 40.
May 5: The College learns that the SJC has granted the ability to move forward with development/sale of the North 40.
May 6: The College holds an open meeting to discuss the future of several land parcels, including the North 40; attended by 170+ Wellesley residents and alumnae. (See FAQs.)
May: Wellesley News publishes a North 40 Update. The College hosts a meeting with student farmers of Regeneration.
June 18: Town of Wellesley’s North 40 Steering Committee meets.
Summer: The College works with consultants to assess uses of the North 40. Activities include a natural resource analysis, environmental studies, and traffic evaluation; issues an RFP to a number of developers and to the Town; seeks responses from conservancy agencies but receives no interest.
August: Wellesley College alumni magazine provides a North 40 update.
August 4: The College issues (on its website) the North 40 Natural Resources Report.
August 29: The College issues (on its website) the North 40 Phase One Environmental Report.
September: Town of Wellesley’s North 40 Steering Committee holds a number of visioning workshops. The College provides a Q&A at Academic & Administrative Council and at Senate.
September 10-18: The College issues (on its website) the North 40 Infrastructure Report and the North 40 Environmental Report. The College publishes an update of recent activity and expected timeline for future activity to its website. Community meeting at Wellesley College Alumnae Hall Auditorium.
October/November: The Trustee Real Estate Revenue Task Force reviews proposals.
October 2: An op-ed authored by the College, describing the College’s goals and mission regarding the North 40, appears in the Wellesley Townsman.
October 3: The College posts (to its website) news that it had received bids from a number of developers and from the Town.
October 14: Wellesley College president sends out a State of the College Report, containing section with updated information on the North 40 process.
October 16: The College and Town issue a joint statement extending the timeline for the process, stating that a vote regarding the North 40 would not take place in the fall as originally planned.
November 11: The College posts (to its website) conservancy group findings, noting the lack of interest from conservancy groups, adding that despite the lack of interest, significant language was incorporated into the RFP regarding the value of open space, sustainability, development density, and thoughtful consideration of the landscape.
December 1: The College announces the best and final proposals to the Wellesley News, the Wellesley Townsmen, Boston Globe West, and the Swellesley News.
December 2: Members of the Trustee Real Estate Revenue Task Force respond to a letter from faculty (posted to website).
December 3: Members of the Trustee Real Estate Task Force provide an update to the community on the North 40 decision-making process. A copy of the presentation is posted to the website. Notes taken at the session (by a College's Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability) are posted online.