A Strategic Transaction for Mount Auburn ’ s Future
By Dave Barnett President & CEO
O n January 29 , 2021 , Mount Auburn Cemetery closed on the sale of a 6.1-acre parcel of land on Grove Street in Watertown to Buckingham Browne & Nichols School ( BB & N ). Most of this parcel , abutting Filippello Park to the south and Coolidge Hill Road to the north , is currently leased to Mount Auburn Hospital for an employee parking lot ; the ten-year lease with the Hospital ends on October 31 , 2021 .
Mount Auburn has considered the Grove Street parcel ’ s best use in its master planning and strategic planning over the past 20 years . With each planning effort , we concluded that the property did not support our own needs . In July 2019 , after months of careful deliberation by the Board of Trustees , we put the land on the market . Our brokerage team of McCall & Almy / JLL received several proposals for the land , including one from BB & N .
The BB & N proposal , created in partnership with the Town of Watertown , would see the land developed as shared recreation and open space . Upon learning of the broad community support for this proposal , we began focusing on negotiations with BB & N to find a mutually beneficial arrangement . After more than a year of continued deliberation by the Trustees , we agreed to move forward with the sale .
As non-profits with long histories in Watertown and Cambridge and a deep commitment to both our individual missions and our broader community , both Mount Auburn Cemetery and BB & N considered a variety of factors prior to reaching agreement . Among them was our shared desire to be good stewards of this parcel of land and assure that its transfer would offer maximal benefit to both our entities and the broader community .
The sale of the land will allow Mount Auburn to focus our operational resources on caring for the remaining 175 acres of
Dave Barnett and BB & N Head of School Jennifer Price signing the Purchase & Sales Agreement in Asa Gray Garden , November 2020 . Photos by Lisa Corbett .
land that is core to our mission . The significant funds from the value of the land will now be utilized to help us achieve our vision for a strong and successful future for the Cemetery . Following is a joint statement from David Barnett , President and CEO of Mount Auburn Cemetery , and Dr . Jennifer Price , Head of School , BB & N , at the time of the sale :
“ Both Mount Auburn Cemetery and BB & N are delighted to have completed the sale of a parcel of Mount Auburn Cemetery property on Grove Street to BB & N . We are grateful for the work of the boards and leadership teams of both organizations , who carefully stewarded this transaction to assure that it met the needs of both non-profits and created a positive benefit for the Watertown community . Under BB & N ’ s stewardship , this parcel will be used in a way that is respectful of the adjacent Mount Auburn Cemetery . Equally important , BB & N will be able to both create an improved student experience and work collaboratively with Watertown to expand field access for its residents . We appreciate the support we have received from the community in moving this transaction forward .”