January 31, 2010

Charlie Baker Kick-off

Great turn-off at the Irish Club today for Charlie Baker's Worceser Kick-off.

January 30, 2010

WPI Sport Facility

You need to check out how big this is going to be, click here

January 29, 2010

Lincoln Square Boys Club

Sorry, but I am putting alot of hope into the direction of downtown Worcester based on what bid is chosen. Looking at the two bids summarized in the four page report to the City Council, I simply do not see how the Winn/WBDC proposal can be chosen.

Consider the backlog of low to mod income housing proposals on the drawing board:

  1. 93 Grand Street
  2. City Builders
  3. Mason Street
  4. Chevalier

Now consider this. If the old courthouse or Auditorium go out to bid some day, which they will, do you think Acorn or another private developer will bid when the RFP is put out if Winn gets the Lincoln Square Boys Club? No way, they will say why waste your time, Worcester goes low-mod income on all the RFP's--driving competition out of the city and lowering the cash the city receives.

Gee, I wonder what the Chamber of Commerce has to say about this.

Bets Anyone???

Although it makes all the sense in the world to vote for Acorn, my money will be on Winn/WBDC. What do my fellow bloggers think?

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

When 800,000 is 400,000

Not sure why the report to the City Council says the partnership, WBDC and Winn, purchase price is 800,000? If the City is only going to get $400,000 wouldn't the purchase price be $400,000 not 800,000.

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?

Republican Has Pulled Papers for Spellane Seat

Unconfirmed rumor

Jahn question for you

Lets say you are selling your car and you have two offers:

  • 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

Vote on the two proposals

This is more then a just a vote on "affordable" housing this is also a vote on expanding our commercial tax base. Does anyone wonder why we can not get a major national chain to come downtown? One only has to look at the demographics. Now what do you think that does to our commercial base?

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

Two Options

Choice 1 (Acorn)
  • 675,000 cash
  • 28 units
  • all market rent

Choice 2 (Winn)

  • 400,000 cash
  • 17 units
  • 11 income restricted

Seems pretty clear to me.

Lincoln Sq Boys Club - Two Development Proposals

I just had a chance to read the 4 page report from the January 5th City Council meeting. First thing you need to understand is that there are 4 parcels in this general area.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

Polar Expands--but in Auburn

January 25, 2010

Zimage Bet


What am I to do with you? I will leave it up to you either pay off your debt at the end of the month or we go double or nothing for UNUM to have signed a deal by the end of February.


Levy on WTAG about CitySquare

Called just asked about CitySquare. Jordan told the caller Berkeley will be out and major local employer will be taking over.

Gee I wonder who that will be??

Affordable Housing Beer Summit


By invite only

January 24, 2010

Changing the Playing Field

Developers of low mod income housing currently get:

  • 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.

Political Contributions

Received this e-mail today. Look who it the 2nd biggest contributor .

January 22, 2010

Worcester Chamber of Commerce

Got to do a shout out, where is the Chamber of Commerce?

Where is the Chamber of Commerce on the issue of "affordable housing"?

Maybe they have not noticed, but drive by any of the projects--do you ever see a local contractors? Every once in a while maybe a fence company or an electrical, but when was the last time your seen a local General Contractor on any of these projects?

Then to top it off, the deck is stacked so unfairly against the private developer in the Inner Core of Worcester, there is no way that they can compete so they need to go outside the City of Worcester or to areas in the city that escape the "affordable housing" domain.

The Chamber of Commerce should either
  1. encourage the hiring of local contractors for these projects
  2. try to get the playing field leveled to give their members a chance.

Instead they 3) do nothing.

Can't wait to read the editorial this fall where they implore the City Council to do something about the dual tax rate for, what now, the 24th year in a row.

Seriously how can the Chamber of Commerce not even be included in the debate as to whether or not we have enough "affordable" housing. The two are intertwined, our housing stock directly effects the commercial development in the City of Worcester.

Why are we seeing rentals?

Bottom line is that once the sub prime market dried up, it was virtually impossible for the CDC's to sell their owner occupied opportunities to low-mod income people. What did they do? They shifted completely to rentals.

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?

Jon Stewart on Olbermann

Must see, click here

Property Ownership

If you go to


· 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


My Comments--for starters

If you take a run down piece of property, invest tax monies into and you get a first time home-buyer to move in, who is considered low to mod income, and then maybe rents out the other two floors. That has been done and is a good thing for the City of Worcester. No problem.

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:

  1. increase their development fee up front
  2. improve their cash flow with the stream of rental income after development.

Let me site the following examples:

  1. Hadley
  2. Standish
  3. City Builders (Southgate Place)--proposed
  4. May Street
  5. Mason Street (proposed)
  6. 93 Grand Street (proposed)
  7. Chevalier
  8. Voke School
  9. 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.

My Comments on Womag Article

I will critique the article tomorrow. Give everyone a chance to read today. Let me officially thank Jeremy Schulkin, Worc Mag writer, for covering this story. Finally!! This is a debate that needs to happen in this city.

Heard that Worcester Chronicles covered this issue also on this week's show?

Worcester Magazine

Story today on affordable housing. There are some quotes in there from the Chandler Business Group. Try to pick up the magazine today. Accepting nominations for a name to the attached picture to your right.
My favorite part--this is exactly what the City of Worcester needs;
A bill working its way through the Massachusetts House would change the way housing is funded by the state. The Gateway Cities Bill would establish a market-rate housing tax credit that would award $25 million annually to projects only in the eleven “Gateway” cities, and includes provisions for developing non-residential properties into housing as well as new construction and the rehab of existing buildings, something for which both Lukes and City
Manager Michael O’Brien have lobbied.
The bill also calls for tax breaks for homeowners renovating their property, providing a tax credit of up to 25 percent of the home’s value.

January 20, 2010

Rumor Mill

Hanover Field
Hanover Theatre

Don't be surprised if we see Hanover Square.

Also hearing that Jillians make be making a move on McFaddens???


Don't we have a double or nothing bet on UNUM by the end of January??

  1. What was the bet again?
  2. Can I double it?

Spellane's Open Seat

Who wants to bet that there may be a viable Republican candidate for this seat?

January 19, 2010

Do you believe in Miracles?

I do..

Longhill Gardens in Springfield

Vote Today

Whether you want Coakley or Brown, just important that everyone gets out and votes today. No excuses!

January 18, 2010

January 17, 2010

NECN Coverage of Worcester Rally

Mechanics Hall

People who could not get in

Channel 7 News Coverage Mechanics Hall

Scott Brown Rally

Showed up a little after 3PM expecting to walk into Mechanics Hall. Walking down Main Street, I was a little surprised to see that the streets had been blocked off? By the tme I actually got to Mechanics Hall, I was amongst a crowd of at least 3,000 people, who were told that Mechanics Hall was full.

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.

Weight update

Paulie, I am down to 223 from a high of 229 the day after T-day.

January 16, 2010

Major Oil Company

Rumor has it a major locally owned oil company might not make it through next week

Schilling a Yankee fan?

January 15, 2010

Scott Brown Contribution

I just made a contribution to Scott Brown for U.S. Senate and I'm hoping you will do the same. You can donate by going to https://www.icontribute.us/scottbrown. Thank you for your support!

Poll shocker: Brown surges ahead in Senate race

Boston Herald Story

January 14, 2010

Hanover Insurance

Reprint of November 19, 2009 post below---starting to get legs now up to a 9 out of 10 on the reliability meter.

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

The Big Show and Brown

January 13, 2010

Brown versus Coakley

Great Wall Street Journal piece.

Check put this video

January 12, 2010

Panera Bread

New business on Gold Star in the Harr showcase on the corner of GoldStar and the driveway to Home Depot across from Crown Bakery.

Rumor has it that the water and sewer connection was 40,000?

January 11, 2010

Lowest Residential Rates

Part of an e-mail I just received from Beth Proko:

Just want to vent that the lowest residential vote once again caused our home tax bill to go up. This time by $736. That will teach me to complain about the $682 increase last year.

Guest Bloggers

Been kind of busy lately so I will like to open up the blog like I did for Dave Zimage. If anyone wants to put up a blog, on whatever, although I get final say on whether to post or not. Send it in!

Jahn, you there?

January 10, 2010

Choose Worcester Closes

What a shocker?? Choose Worcester has gone the same path of the Univercity Partnership. Whre is Armand Carrier today? Click here for the Telegram story.

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:

  1. locking in assessed values for commercial development in targeted areas for 10 years
  2. waive permitting fees
  3. waive water and sewer connection fees

Nick K

Story in the Telegram today about how city projects languish. Are they surprised?

In the private sector, time is money so a a private developer wants to start and finish a project as quick as possible. A private developer wants to have all their financing in place when they start a project and hit the ground running. Fast turn around is key.

In the low-mod income development world, a developer needs to secure an actual site, even if it is merely under agreement, before they can apply for the various grant sources. In other words, it is almost impossible to have the money in hand when a project is announced. Whether it be the City Builders, Old Voke School, Mason Street, 93 Grant Street or Chevalier, it will automatically take years from the initial announcement until the project gets started. Same for Pharmasphere. It is merely the nature of the beast and low mod income developers. They need to secure a location first, then start the process.

That is why these developers love the RFP process. You see the city puts a parcel like the Old Voke School out to bid. They come in and bid and promise 67 units of housing. The city in turns accepts the bid and the developer then turns around and negotiates an LDA, Land Disposition Agreement, that gives them 2-3 years to secure the required financing. Even if it is 4 years later and nothing has happened, what is the City of Worcester to do?

Kudos to Councilor Lukes "We have to set a new direction in this city. We have more then met our quota, when it comes to affordable housing. It's time to level things off and encourage more market-rate housing so we can have a diverse population in the downtown area. What happens to these buildings will have a significant impact on the downtown for decades to come." The question then is how do you encourage private market-rate housing ?
  • waive permitting fees
  • waive water and sewer connection fees
  • lock in current assessed value for ten years
Call the Philadelphia Plan or the Hanover Treatment. How about also discouraging low-mod housing?
  • 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

Although I must admit the horse may already be out of the barn on this, it is good to see that people are starting to realize the problem. Last congrats to Nick on his Fire Fighters media award.

January 08, 2010

CVS at May and Park Ave

Sign says opening January 24th

January 07, 2010

January 06, 2010

McFadden's Closes

Last Night City Council

I missed it.

I heard, however, that there was some discussion on another affordable housing project at the Lincoln Square Boys Club. Anyone hear it?

Today's Editorial

Almost reads like one of Zimage's comments last week

January 05, 2010

Direct Air Telegram Story

Don't know how I missed it Dave but I did? Click here.

January 04, 2010

Week-end flights

I got some e-mails from some people inquiring about whether or not flights were coming in or not. Looks from where I am sitting they all came in, although a little late but that can't unexpected considering the weather. If anyone knows otherwise, let me know.

January 03, 2010


I know that you will shocked to hear this but nobody shoveled the walks around the Pharmasphere.

Salvation Army Story

Click here in the Telegram.

I read it and I personally do not think it is much of a story. The key part of the story to me is that the Salvation Army owns the home and they can invest their monies as they see fit. In fact I think that investing in Holden right now in a down real estate market is a good investment and will provide a good return to the charity. Don't all the local churches, temples and colleges do the same thing?

The key part to me is that they, I do not believe, are receiving any funds from the City of Worcester? I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure about this. In fact these guys worked real hard to bring a big investment by the Salvation Army into the City of Worcester, but we lost out to I believe Boston.

Exactly what is the story here? The Salvation Army provides free housing to their Executive Director as part of their compensation package? As far as I am concerned, they are a good neighbor and my only complaint about them is that the pay they give to the people, who actually collect the monies with the red kettles is pathetic. Don't want to say a number here, but I know a few people who have done it, but it was ridiculously low.

How about next week a story on:
  1. Mason Street Development : 4 years after the RFP was awarded
  2. Pharmasphere: 2 years after the RFP was awarded
  3. Status of all loans from the City of Worcester
  4. The above ground sewer line from May Street through private property to Main Street

January 01, 2010

Mayor O'Brien

I am hoping Joe will be a good Mayor and I actually holding out some high hopes, but his new year's resolution was a little disconcerning. One of his goals is to lower his carbon footprint. If things keep going the way they are and more businesses keep leaving the City of Worcester your wish will come true.