January 31, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 29, 2010
- 93 Grand Street
- City Builders
- Mason Street
This could be the next Pharmasphere. Some two years later, although they were suppose to break ground that Spring, Pharmasphere still has not taken title to the property in the South Worcester Industrial Park after their $1 bid beat the abutter's $50,000 offer.
January 28, 2010
Acorn on the other hand purchase price of 675,000 results in the City of Worcester getting 275,000 more dollars then the offer from the partnership between WBDC and Winn. Not couple that with 28 units versus 17 with no affordable housing component?
Is there any reason why the council should not vote 11 to 0 to grant the RFP to Acorn?
- Sign man offer $675 and will take car as is
- I show up with $800 but tell you I would have to invest $400 of it back into the car so you would net 400
1) What offer would you accept?
2) Would you consider my offer to be $800 or $400?
January 27, 2010
RKG said it best when they said "More emphasis should be placed on attracting a higher class of people, who in turn would improve the commercial vitality of the City, and allow the City to leverage more private investment to increase the amount of upper end products."
Seriously, this is when it be nice is we had a strong Chamber of Commerce that could actually weigh in on decisions like this.
January 26, 2010
Building D (machine shop)
Think this was the old machine shop building. This was sold on June 29, 2007 for $1,155,000 to a parternship between the WBDC and WPI
Building B & C (Voke School)
This is where the gym and classes were. These were sold for 1,600,000 to what in essence will be Winn. One building (B) will be knocked down for parking while the other (C) will be developed into
- 35 market rent
- 32 income restricted
The above are done deals. What is left?
Building A (Boys Club)
There are two proposals.
- Acorn Management, great track history check out Wamsutta Mills in New Bedford. They want to pay 675,000 and develop 28 market rate housing units.
- WBDC, in partnership with Winn, to add 17 units to Building C,of which 11 units will be subsidized. Although the reports says that they will pay $800,000 for Building A, only $400,000 goes to the City of Worcester. The other 400,000 goes into cover their remediation gap for Buidings B & C.
Bottom line is this. The City of Worcester can either 1) get 675,000 dollars and 28 market rate housing units or 2) $400,000 and 17 housing units, of which 11 will be subsidized. Although one would think Acorn should get the bid, who did you think will get the bid?
January 25, 2010
January 24, 2010
- any variance that they want
- letters of support from the City and the City delegation when they apply for State and Federal Grants
- land on the cheap either through direct negotiations or the RFP process
- no enforcement of the terms of the LDA (land disposition agreements)
- unchecked use of NRSA to help develop their low-mod housing projects
- waived property taxes on parcels that they buy that have big balances
- free infrastructure improvements (sidewalks, overground sewer lines through private property).
- question whether they pay the full permitting fees especially when the current charge is suppose to be $1,330 per bedroom
I agree with Eric's comment earlier. If we could 1) stop these incentives and 2) create incentives for market based housing, I am sure we would see the same results.
January 22, 2010
- encourage the hiring of local contractors for these projects
- try to get the playing field leveled to give their members a chance.
Southgate Place and the Hadley are perfect examples of this. Does anyone really believe that the condos are coming soon to the Hadley?? Lets just settle for a paved parking lot. Southgate Place was orginally suppose to be home ownership, but when they could not get any monies for the Commonwealth (I believe it was DHCD), what they did? Merely changed the application to be rentals.
Did it matter that the neighborhood needs home ownership more then anything else? Absolutely not!!! They need to keep doing developments so once the home ownership money dried up, shift to rentals. If you build three apartments on a small piece of land the costs just don't work out, so jam as many rental units as possible on the piece of property to lower the cost per unit.
This begs the question, where has warehoused low-mod income rental housing truly been successful? Cabrini Green is the extreme, but seriously isn't there a pretty clear track record that this does not work?
· Type Main South --- there are 52 parcels controlled by them
· Type Worcester Common-- there are 41 parcels
Keep in mind that there are other parcels that they are involved in that are held under other names; for example--Beacon Oread . Right there are 93 properties owned by these two entities. Think we need to have this discussion.
January 21, 2010
Why, however, does it have to be a CDC that needs to develop the property??? Recently I met someone, who told me that his girlfriend was considering buying a property in the City's inner core. Throw all the incentives in the world at them:
- waive permitting fees
- give them with grants directly, whether through the NRSA, HOME funds, etc
- help these people maneuver through the system
- lock in property taxes for 5 years
Problem now is we have come a long way from developing owner occupied opportunities.
This has become a big business, where the developer tries to pack as many units on as small a piece of property as possible with every possible variance imaginable especially parking, free infrastructure improvements (sidewalks and grind/overlays) and do they eally pay the $1,330 fee per bedroom??? Why do they do this:
- increase their development fee up front
- improve their cash flow with the stream of rental income after development.
Let me site the following examples:
- City Builders (Southgate Place)--proposed
- May Street
- Mason Street (proposed)
- 93 Grand Street (proposed)
- Voke School
- Piedmont Street
These projects alone represent approximately 250-275 apartments with no home ownership opportunities and, I would estimate, 80% of these units need to be low to mod income. Problem is when you have percentages this high, these projects tend to end being 100% low to mod income.
As Winn and other companies find out how easily we give variances for whatever you want under the auspices of "affordable" housing, we will be at 20% never mind 14% before you know it heading for 30%. Call me ignorant, better then a pain in the a--, but this is a discussion that we need to have now. For the 100th time RKG was right:
More emphasis should be placed on attracting a higher class of people, who in turn would improve the commercial vitality of the City, and allow the City to leverage more private investement.
Heard that Worcester Chronicles covered this issue also on this week's show?
January 20, 2010
January 19, 2010
January 17, 2010
We were then directed to go to either the Crown Plaza Hotel of Brown HQ on Grafton Steet. Pretty much all the crown, walked to the Crown Plaza, not sure why? I waited for Paul Colyer, then we walked to Crown Plaza, only to see much of the crowd walking back at us? Turns out the Crown Plaza filled up and nobody else was allowed in.
When all else fails, Paul and I went to the Irish Times for a beer/wings and watch the football game. Ironically we sat next to a guy, who drove in from NH just to watch "old time politics". Bottom line I would estimate conservatively that there were 3,000 people outside waiting to get inside Mechanics Hall. How many were actually in Mechanics Hall, I have no idea.
Never seen anything like this in my life. Paul will have better coverage of this, check out his blog.
January 16, 2010
January 15, 2010
January 14, 2010
The rumor mill is cranking today. Remember how financing was with, I believe, Starwood. New financing now–believe it or not- Hanover Insurance Co.
On the reliability meter I give it a 8.5 out of 10
January 13, 2010
January 12, 2010
January 11, 2010
January 10, 2010
I have met Oley Carp and he seems like a very nice man. In all seriousness, why do we need a group called "Choose Worcester"? Isn't that the goal of the Chamber of Commerce-to keep current businesses and get prospective businesses to Cboose Worcester. In fact if I was a prospective business deciding where I was going to put my business and the prospective City/Town had to establish an entity to convine to "Choose" them, it would worry me.
Reading the story, I got to admit that I was kind of amazed that Pharmasphere was mentioned. The company that won the SWIP bid for $1 in January of 2008 that was suppose to start building that Spring, has not only not started to build but has not even taken title to the property or shovels their walks.
Mr Carp asserts, however, Choose Worcester
- "been involved with eight companies that moved to Worcester or decided to to stay in Worcester, leading to the creation of 450 jobs and about $40 million of capital investment."
- Choose Worcester also launched a website that got its 5 millionth hit.
Again Mr Carp seems like a very nice guy, but can we get some details on the 450 jobs and the $40 million of capital investment. And 5 million hits!!! Lets just say the website has been up for 4 years, that 1.245 million hits per year or approximately 100,000 hits per month or over 3,300 hits per day.
Choose Worcester was a nice idea but the only way we really get businessesses to Choose Worcester lets come up with some concrete reasons like:
- locking in assessed values for commercial development in targeted areas for 10 years
- waive permitting fees
- waive water and sewer connection fees
Story in the Telegram today about how city projects languish. Are they surprised?
- waive permitting fees
- waive water and sewer connection fees
- lock in current assessed value for ten years
- tell our local delegation to stop supporting these applications on both the state and federal level
- stop giving our HOME funds to these projects
- stop the insane variances
January 08, 2010
January 07, 2010
January 06, 2010
January 05, 2010
January 04, 2010
January 03, 2010
- Mason Street Development : 4 years after the RFP was awarded
- Pharmasphere: 2 years after the RFP was awarded
- Status of all loans from the City of Worcester
- The above ground sewer line from May Street through private property to Main Street