November 8, 2019

Dear BB&N Community,

As many of you know, over the last year we have been engaged in a Strategic Planning process that has incorporated a Campus Master Planning process. During this work, it has become clear that as we envision the future of BB&N, it is essential that we think strategically about increasing space on our campuses with the goal of enhancing all aspects of the student experience. To that end, we are writing to update you on two important real estate opportunities for BB&N. We want to make sure our entire community is up to date on strategic conversations that have been happening at the Board level, and now are entering a more public phase.

The first piece of real estate news is that the school has finalized the purchase of a property adjacent to the Upper School at 197 Coolidge Hill on October 29th. This property, located directly north of the Nicholas Athletic Center, had been the longtime home of a BB&N alumnus and his family. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity he gave us to present an offer prior to the property going to market.
The acquisition of this 0.8 acre lot and its 6,250 square-foot home, combined with our purchase of the neighboring 30 Gerry’s Landing property four years ago, increases our Upper School campus footprint by 20 percent. (Upper School campus footprint shown here; the 197 Coolidge Hill lot is indicated by the arrow.) This level of contiguous expansion marks an incredibly rare opportunity at our Cambridge location, providing increased flexibility as we plan for the school’s future. In the short term, the owner will remain in the house, as we begin the process of readying the properties for educational use.
The second opportunity evolves from the long-term desire for additional athletic fields for BB&N. We are working on a potential partnership with the Town of Watertown to increase our field space. Specifically, we are discussing the possibility of BB&N purchasing a 6-acre lot on Grove Street that is for sale by Mount Auburn Cemetery. If we are able to acquire the parcel, we would then develop a joint-use agreement allowing BB&N to use the two fields at Filippello Park (a 14-acre Watertown park adjacent to this lot) after school each day. In return, we would grant the town access to the two fields we would build on the Grove Street lot, when we are not using them.

There are a number of commercial developers interested in this site, and the reality is that we most likely will not be able to compete with them on price, given where we understand other offers stand. What we hope will differentiate BB&N’s offer, however, is the strategic partnership with Watertown that our proposal represents. In order to demonstrate our commitment to this partnership and detail the benefits it would bring to both BB&N and the town, we will appear in front of the Watertown Town Council on Tuesday, November 12th. Because this will be a public meeting, we wanted to be sure that we informed you about this proposal in advance of that forum. 

While we are pleased to share with you this exciting opportunity, our Board will need to carefully assess the potential acquisition. In addition, the Mount Auburn Cemetery Board will have to weigh the highest-price bid versus our unique commitment to increase open space and ensure a use compatible with the Cemetery’s vision for the lot. The Cemetery Board has informed bidders that they will determine the winning proposal in the next few months. 

Thank you for your support. Please reach out to either of us with any questions. We are committed to providing the best opportunities for all our students and ensuring our long-term viability as one of the top independent schools in the region.

Dr. Jennifer Price
Head of School
Chuck Brizius
Chair, BB&N Board of Trustees