May 31, 2008
Seriously I can not tell you how many cars I saw towed around the block so that the streets could be cleaned and then slapped with a tickert ($50 I believe). I know that nobody is ever happy with some services but it does not make sense to me to clean streets on week-ends where there is no off street parking to begin with.
May 30, 2008
May 29, 2008
Here is the story:
Air service is facing cutbacks
As Delta Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. drop flights to trim record fuel bills, passengers in regional business centers such as Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are being hit hardest. Pittsburgh, home to 12 Fortune 1000 companies, lost nonstop service to London, Paris, Frankfurt and 19 U.S. cities when US Airways scrapped a third of flights at its former hub this year.
Delta’s Comair cut back by 10 percent in Cincinnati, the headquarters of Procter & Gamble Co. The result is a scramble by corporate fliers who used to take connections for granted. Airports in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are among 120 where airlines reduced seating capacity at least 10 percent in the past year, and more cuts are likely with the cost of jet fuel up 83 percent in 12 months.
Regional business centers are feeling the pain most as airlines abandon routes, shift to smaller planes and fly less frequently. Forty-nine cities are losing scheduled service entirely. This includes three state capitals — Trenton, N.J.; Topeka, Kan., and Santa Fe, N.M. From wire service reports
May 28, 2008
- Burwick Building
- Odd Fellows
- Benefit (1st building on left from Main)
- Piedmont Street lot
- May Street project
- Cambridge/Hacker Street
- Crompton & Knowles on Grand Street
- City Builders site on Armory Street
The RKG study said that we needed to stop putting such an emphasis on low-income housing. IMG even told us to downgrade the airport, if no commercial carriers came. Makes you wonder why we pay consultants to producce reports that we did not listen to.
May 26, 2008
May 25, 2008
In Worcester, on the home ownership side we have Main South CDC has numerous empty units for sale on Kilby an Hollis Street. Oak Hill CDC has units (forgot the name of the street), East Side CDC has a two family for sale on Lyons Street asking 120,000, Worc Communty Housing Resources has Quincy Street and South Worcester walked from their project on Cambridge/Hacker leaving Holy Cross with the note as the guarantor. On the rental side, we have May Street with Common Ground and the Burwick/Hadley under construction. On the sideline we have several projects on the drawing boards. Maybe we should stop building these units?
Now for the City of Muncie Indiana, click here, " The city of Muncie will lose $465,634 in HUD aid during the fiscal year beginning June 1 after a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development audit determined the city lacked adequate control over its federally funded HOME Investment Partnerships Program in 2006-07." I think you will see alot more of these HUD audits.
Here is my favorite story on the Progressive Southeast Arkansas Housing Development Corporation, click here. We need to stop any more of these projects and do an audit to really determine the success, versus the cost, of the projects that we have built.
May 23, 2008
Lets look at the math, 20 million for 45 units equates to $444,444 per apartment. Actually the cost is less since there is 5,000 square feet of retail space in the first floor, but you get the picture. Out of these 45 apartments, however, 40 need to go to low income residents. We need more low income apartments?
- Common Ground has a development on May Street that has another 50 units of apartments for low income under construction (not enough off-street parking).
- Main South CDC has about 10-15 units empty for low income homebuyers, that just received a subsidy from the Commonwealth to lower their prices, that are still empty.
- Mason-Winfield is another project for low-income homebuyers, with another 10-15 units on the drawing boards
- WCHR has a project on Congress Street (think that is the street) with another 10 units for low-income homebuyers that is empty.
- Common Ground has a project on Piedmont street with another 10-15 units on the drawing board that I think are for apartments (no off-street parking).
- South Worcester Neighbor Center has a project on Cambridge/Hacker that is suppose to have 11 units for low-income homebuyers, of which only 3 have sold.
- South Worcester Neighbor Center owns the the Old City Builders property that is trying to get monies for 20-25 apartment for low-income residents.
- Recently we saw the completion of the Odd Fellow Buildings next to the Old Mart and the Standish Building.
My WAG (wild a-- guess) is that this represents approximately 60,000,000 in investments. Do you think we got out monies worth?
This is just a quick snapshot in a very small area of the City. When is enough enough??? My favorite line is from Mr Rodriguez-Pinzon "Our objective is to attract people with disposable income." A building with 40 out of 45 units intended for low income residents is attracting people with disposable income.
Gentrification is one thing and the City of Worcester is the furthest possible thing from it. In actuality we have been able to create a business friendly city for low income developers. Jahn, you are right this is the truly one growth business in Worcester.
On one side 21,500,000 is being spent on Garage Mahal. On the other side 34,500,000 is being spend to tear down a garage. Could not help but see the irony. Some 56,000,000 on garages. The Construction trade unions must love Worcester.
May 21, 2008
Sorry I have not been more attentive. We have rebid two or our contracts. We won the rebid for ACY (Authority voted unanimously in our favor) and we are submitting tomorrow on a longer term contract at SWF. Been busy.
Had promised you a list of things we typically look for when considering an opportunity. Hopefully this will provide us with a baseline understanding of the airport, its strengths and its challenges.
· Financial Statements for the last 5 calendar years
· Airport Master Plan Update
· Airport Layout Plan
· Airport Capital Improvement Plan (ACIP)
· Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants received over the last 5-years
· Business Plan for the airport
· Current airport staffing plan
· Tenant Roll
· Asset listing
· Current Schedule of published rates and charges
· Debt Service schedule
· Environmental impact statements, concerns or
· Rule and Regulations
· Minimum Standards
I have forwarded this e-mail to our airport liaison, Phil Niddrie.
May 20, 2008
The question is will Building H and 135,000 of leased space produce enough additional revenues to pay $15,600,000 in bonds, since the underground garage will, I do not believe, will be built under phase 1A or will we have to dip into the General Fund? Believe me I want this project to happen, but I just do not see how the development through Phase 1A will generate the "extra" tax revenues to pay 15,600,000 in bonds, without having to take monies from the General Fund.
Hope I am wrong.
May 19, 2008
1) Tell me a little bit about yourself and your company?
Please visit our website at http://www.johnsongolfmangement.com/, this will give you more info on us.
2) Understand you manage Pakachoag Golf Course in Auburn, can you tell me a little bit about your winning bid specifically how much you have paid to the town of Auburn each year?
We have been at Pakachoag for 12+ years. We won a ten year contract from 1997 to 2006. We are currently operating Pakachoag on a year to year basis due to litigation with the last contract. Under our ten year contract we paid the town an average of $50,000 per year plus did approx. $200,000 in capital improvements.
3) You are responsible for all maintenance, employees at Pakachoag?
Yes. We are responsible for all employees for the total operation.
4) Would you be interested in running Green Hill Golf Course in Worcester ?
Yes, but they need to get their act together and do what is right for the taxpayers. By this I mean the golf course is a city asset and should be making money for the city. The facts have shown that the best way for a city or town is to privatize and lease the facility and get a return for the taxpayers.
5) Do the other courses that you manage sell alcohol?
Most of our course do sell alcohol. We have held as many as six liquor licenses at a time in Masssachusetts. We have lots of experience in the F&B area including functions and weddings, . see website.
If anyone has any questions please leave a comment and hopefully Mr Johnson will get back to us.
May 18, 2008
Here is my explanation of DIF. Cities and Towns are given money (Bonds) for infrastructure improvements to lure businesses to expand the tax base. The theory is that without these infrastructue improvements, the project would not be feasible for the developer.
The City or Town must then prepare a plan showing how once the infrastructure is done and the developer finishes their project, the increased tax revenues will pay off the bond. In other words, if all goes well, the bonds are paid by new revenues from the project thus costing the underlying City or Town nothing, while expanding tax base. Make no mistake about it, however, the City or Town must pay back the bond, even if there is no increased tax revenues so there is RISK.
Here is analogy. Assume you have a business, but decide to build an addition that will cost $200,000 or $2,000 per month for 10 years. You build the addition and your profits go up $2,000 per month. Theoretically the $200,000 loan cost you nothing, since your profits went up and eventually the business will be more profitable when the debt is paid back. There is RISK to the business-owner. If the business does not increase with the addition, the owner still has to pay back the $200,000.
Just like the business who takes out a $200,000 note, there is risk for the City of Worcester with District Improvement Financing, but it is to the tune of $64,000,000. Originally the Commonwealth required that the underlying project had to have 300,000 square feet leased. Why? The Commonwealth wants to make sure that there will be additional tax revenues to pay the bond. This week I read the Commonwealth has dropped this requirement to 140,000 of square feet. This concerns me. Where will the increased tax revenues come from to pay some 64,000,000 in DIF bonds if there is only a commitment of 140,000 square feet to be leased?
Here is a real good summary of the project, click here. Bottom line is we need alot of increased taxes from this district and new revenues from the parking garage to pay back 64,000,000 in bonds. If we do not come up with the additional revenues, the payments still need to be made from the General Fund.
City Square is very important to the future of downtown, but do we not want to be in the real estate speculation business? I think we are taking a big business taking on this debt not having at least 300,000 square feet (as originally planned) in a good market. Now that the real estate market has turned, we are willing take this risk with less commitments?
Reminds me building a train station without parking? Seriously we need to think twice about reducing the initial development requirements, especially when we are on the hook for $64,000,000.
May 16, 2008
- I believe the City budget was based on MassPort eventually cover 100% of the subsidy of the operating deficit retro-active. A vote like this makes it somwhat clear to me that 100% is not going to happen.
- a 9% increase in the subsidy saves 250,000. That means the operating deficit would need to be $2,777,778? City of Worcester share (21%) is 583,333 plus some 600,000 in debt service so our cost is approximately $1,200,000 per year or $100,000 per month.
- Tom Kinton talks about an extension at the end of the year , what happened to the long-term lease or sale? It looks like he wants to wants to wait on the Worcester Regional Mobility Study. Lets hope this comes out faster then the 20 year Master Plan that has been worked on for four years.
- Here is the best line "It may not be passenger service initially. In may be corporate and general aviation activity..."
Let me ask this why then are we keeping ORH open as a Part 139 Airport. Think is what it is called when an airport needs to have certain standards to accept commercial passengers. Why don't we downgrade to a General Aviation airport yesterday, as IMG even recommended, and start cutting the loses now?
May 15, 2008
I agree with some of the posters on your blog that you need to rethink the criteria for your business closed list. For example, you list Zoots on Grafton Street but that one is a direct result of the failings of the chain itself. Take a look at this link from today's Boston.com - http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/05/15/high_concept_cleaner_in_tatters/
Also, Kangaroo Crossing is still located at 180 Main Street. They closed their retail location but are transitioning to a web based business model. Their website is currently under construction - http://www.sneakerloft.com/
Seeing your closed list does not seem to have a specific timeline involved, how about the following few that I can think of that have opened and/or made a commitment to Worcester:
1) St. Vincent Hospital's decision to build Med City instead of moving to a new location in Boylston (which was the original intent of the hospital trustees - Imagine what downtown would look like without their presence)
2) Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (I believe they now own the entire area between Commercial, Mechanic, Foster & Norwich Streets for future expansion)
3) The redevelopment of Lincoln Plaza and the stores that have a city presence because of it - think about it, would some of these tenants have locations in Worcester were it not for this project I.e. Target, Lowe's, Barnes & Noble, etc. (IMHO, no they wouldn't! They would have just surrounded the city with suburban locations)
4) Hilton Gardens on Major Taylor Blvd.
5) Fedex Kinko's on Front Street
6) Worcester Dental Group's move to larger quarters on Front Street
7) WCRN's commitment to stay in Worcester (soon to be moving to Franklin Street in one of the Mayo group buildings). Where's our other dominant media outlets, WTAG/WSRS located? That's right, Paxton.
8) Citadel Broadcasting Group Stations (WXLO - WWFX - WORC-FM) on Front Street. In case you forgot, WWFX & WORC-FM used to have their offices in Shrewsbury & Webster respectively)
9) For that matter, let's not forget the Mayo Group itself and their commitment/investment in our downtown core
10) WPI's joint venture with the WBDC for the Technology Center off of Grove Street
And on another note, Konnie Lukes in an article today in the T&G, actually voiced optimism on the future of City Square. This is very significant in my eyes because she has long been a very vocal critic of the project. In the article "Mayor gives Impromptu City Tour <http://www.telegram.com/article/20080515/NEWS/805150438/1008/NEWS02> ", she is quoted as saying, "And the mayor, who far from a starry-eyed cheerleader for the city and who has been publicly skeptical over the years about the $565 million CitySquare project planned for the empty urban outlet mall between Washington Square and City Hall, also expressed some uncharacteristic optimism about CitySquare. As the bus drove by the mall's sprawling, clumsily designed parking garage - most of which is slated to be torn down - she declared: "That mall will not be here a year from now." "It appears to be in the works," Mrs. Lukes said of the long-delayed CitySquare undertaking."
I do agree that we have a long way to go in Worcester but I don't have quite as a bleak perspective as some of the friends who post regularly on your blog.
Specifically the lack of development in places like:
- South Worcester Industrial Park
- Airport Industrial Park
- Wyman Gordon Parcel
There are many many other parcels that I could list. My point here was not to diminish the benefits of the restaurants and bars, but to point out we are losing much of our commercial base and we need to do something to:
- keep and
- attract businesses back to Worcester.
We need to aggressively targets areas for commercial use and:
- lock in current assessed value for a certain period of time (5 or 10 years)
- waive all permitting, water/sewer hook-ups
We can call it the Hanover Theatre Treatment. So everyone understands where I am coming from. The restaurants/bars are great, but we need to make the City of Worcester attractive for business.
This goes with out saying, but we need to stop funding the CDC's yesterday.
May 14, 2008
Please post here new businesses the past 2-3 years other then these restaurants and bars and I will list them here.
May 13, 2008
1) Parker Companies
4) Tatnuck Boookseller
5) Morgan Construction (sold)
7) TiNova (I have a gift certificate)
8) Allegiant Air
9) Salter School
10) Barbers Crossing
11) EB Luce
12) DeScenza Jeweler
13) Bancroft Tire and Car Sales
14) Applebee's downtown
15) Mayfield Plastics to Millbury
16) Palsons Office
17) Union Station Restaurant
18) Blues Club at Union Station
19) Vincent Jewelers
20) Bob's at Webster Square
22) Parker & Harper on Dewey Street
23) Manoog Plumbing
24) Fidelity on Belmont
25) Sheraton Lincoln on Lincoln
26) L Hardy
27) Shaws on Grafton Street
28) Java Hut
29) Marshall's Greendale Mall
30) FDR Library
31) Plumber's Museum
34) Struck Cafe
35) KB Toys
36) Friendlys on Lincoln Street
37) Blackstone Harvest
38) Bancroft Liquors
39) 80's Club
40) Stowe & Degon
41) Woodfire barbeque
42) Zoots on Grafton
43) Hollywood Video on Grafton
44) African Museum on Canterbury Street
45) Robert's Fish & Chips (Lincoln)
47) Bank of America (Front Street)
48) Prime Mortgage
49) Kangaroo Crossing
Folks here in the Adirondacks are really responding to the service and we are very happy with our first few months here,” says Wolf. “With a flight time of less than an hour and some fares as low as $59, it is cheaper to fly than it is to drive. We are looking forward to a busy summer and fall season.”
“Cape Air is our hometown airline,” said Edward C. Freni, Director of Aviation for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which owns and operates Logan. "We are pleased Cape Air is connecting Boston Logan International Airport with upstate New York.”
By September 2008 Cape Air will add an Albany hub with three new routes between the state capital and the communities of Watertown, Ogdensburg and Watertown. “Thanks to the tremendous support of state and local officials Cape Air is establishing a niche here in New York’s North Country and we are proud to add this beautiful region to our route map
May 12, 2008
Chicago Rockford International Airport posted its 19th consecutive month of year-over-year growth in April, with 21,127 passengers.That’s an 8 percent increase from last April.It’s also the fifth-best month for the airport all time. All five of those months have been since last March. For the year so far, the airport has seen 21 percent growth. It’s on pace to break its 17-year-old single-year record or 221,006.
Airport officials say that’s notable at a time when airlines are cutting back and airports are losing service around the country.“Think about 19 months ago and how much has changed, yet RFD continues to produce record traffic,” said Mike Dunn, chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority board of commissioners. “The streak which began in October 2006 continues to show RFD’s ability to fill seats from the Chicagoland area to high-demand destinations.”Planes in and out of the Rockford airport were on average 85 percent full.
May 11, 2008
CSX Corp.'s deal with the state to sell 61 miles of track in Central Florida for a commuter rail system is off after the Florida Legislature did not approve a bill with provisions that the proposed sale hinged on. It appears that the action won't affect the terminal being built in Winter Haven, said Gary Sease, CSX spokesman.
The deal CSX negotiated with the state runs until June 2009. That means that it still can be implemented with legislative approval. Lawmakers in the Orlando area are trying to forge a compromise that could win approval of both houses at a later date.
The commuter rail deal had faced opposition from officials and civic leaders in Lakeland and other communities that would have seen freight train traffic increase as CSX would have rerouted trains through the area to a proposed intermodal rail yard in Winter Haven. In the end, it also faced opposition from people wary of the legislation's provisions to shield CSX from liability in accidents involving passengers. CSX wanted the state to cover liability for the commuter rail operation and the equipment involved in that, while the railroad would continue to shoulder liability for all freight operations, Sease said.
In a statement to the press, CSX said it's disappointed that the Legislature "failed to endorse this important investment in Florida's future." While commuter rail in Central Florida will not happen, CSX also said it's "reviewing its timeline for rail infrastructure modifications in Florida and studying other implications" of the Legislature's action.
May 10, 2008
That said much of the dicussion that I have heard on the radio and read in the newspaper concerns me. In the end private property rights is the basis of capitalism and can not be overlooked.
We should negotiate with CSX but talk of class action lawsuits or eminent domain do not seem fair in this case. CSX owns this section of rail and it is there right to sell or not sell their own property.
May 09, 2008
May 08, 2008
The topic of today's post, however, is New Hampshire. Check out the story from the Boston Herald here. They are not going to pass an increase in light of the Commonwealth's most increase realizing that they can collect more by not passing an increase. The thing people never consider are the lost revenues from alcohol and lotter sales to New Hampshire and surrounding states when people cross the border to buy cigarettes.
These lost revenues to the Commonwealth have a direct effect of the City of Worcester when 50+ percent of our revenues come from the Commonwealth.
May 07, 2008
During the past year, City Manager Michael V. O’Brien said he has been working with chief executives from the other cities on creating the “Gateway Cities Compact for Community and Economic Development.” The other “Gateway Cities” are Brockton, Fall River, Fitchburg, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lowell, Lawrence, New Bedford, Pittsfield and Springfield.
This can not hurt Worcester. The story also mention that they 11 cities will meet to formally sign the pact. It is just me or is there some irony in the fact that instead of meeting in one of the 11 Gateway cities, they are meeting in Boston to sign it?
What really caught my interest is that the City Manager will be presenting "a five-year, coordinated commercial district development action plan that will focus on downtown". My guess is that it will look like what they did in Philadelphia and what was down for the Hanover Theatre. First, lock in current assessed value for time period certain and myabe even waiving of permitting fees, etc.
This is good news and I look forward to hearing what the City Manager has in mind.
May 06, 2008
A revenue passenger mile is an industry measurement accounting for one paying passenger flown one mile. Capacity increased 19.9 percent to 382.9 million available seat miles, from 319.4 million a year earlier. Load factor, a measure of occupancy, increased 4.3 percentage points to 85.2 percent
Despite rising fuel prices, Allegiant Travel Co., parent company of Allegiant Air and Allegiant Vacations, posted $9.7 million in earnings during the first quarter of 2008, nearly matching its performance for the same period during the previous year.
With shrinking margins, Allegiant achieved this feat only by dramatically boosting its revenue 58 percent, from $84.3 million during the first quarter of 2007 to $133.1 million during the first three months of this year. “Our focus on achieving higher loads was successful — our scheduled system had the highest domestic load factor in the industry at 86.9 percent, a 4.4 percentage point increase from the first quarter of 2007,” Maurice J. Gallagher Jr., Allegiant’s chairman, CEO and president, said in a statement.
Based in Las Vegas, Allegiant operates a fleet of 37 jets on 103 routes. Its service includes twice-weekly direct round-trip flights between Duluth and Las Vegas.
May 05, 2008
May 04, 2008
- Master Plan?
- 300,000 left in DOT monies need to be spent by September?
- IMG has been paid 100,000 --what are they doing?
- Bidder for the one parcel of land?
- Contract negotiations with MassPort?
- Does the city still charge their own fuel tax?
- Continue to lose millions each year
The situation is not getting better. Downgrade to General Aviation and get out of the airport business yesterday. The whole situation is simply ridiculous.
May 02, 2008
"Most have. Like I said, take a walk around and see the desolation.Just for fun, take a look at ORH through google maps, and click on the sattelite image. I count 12 planes in the tie-down area, one (jet?) in front of Dynair, and 8 at the radio shop.I count 38 planes in Fitchburg, 16 in Spencer ,12 in Sterling (along with 79 glider trailers with 8 outside the trailers) 23 in Stow, 23 in Southbridge, 9 in Gardner, and 14 in Barre.
Every privately owned airport in the area has more planes than Worcester, and of the publicly owned ones, only Gardner has fewer. I suppose ORH is simply a secret that us fly-boys haven't discovered yet. Otherwise, it woudl be loaded with little planes.
h yeah, if Patrick gets his way, Mass will join Maine as the only New England States charging sales tax on airplanes and parts, so you can say good-bye to the Radio Shop too.