March 31, 2010

Cataract Street Cascades

If you want to see something kind of neat drive up to Cataract Street Street.  After big rain storms, it is a pretty awesome sight. 

March 30, 2010

Mayor's Business Task Force

Story in theTelegram today about the task force which has their first meeting on Thursday.    Not sure if April Fool's day is a good day to start.


TV is not the same without the Wire.   Creators of the Wire have a new show-- Treme.  Looks like it has potential

Land Sold to Main South CDC

  1. 1 Hollis Street (Bk 27314 page 329)   $1
  2. 196 Beacon Street (BK 30709 page 148) $1,380
  3. 194 Beacon Street (Bk 30709 page 142)  $1,180
  4. 190 Beacon Street (Bk 30709 pg 137)  $1,180
  5. 25 Hollis St (Bk 30709 pg 131) $290
  6. 11 Gardner St (Bk 30709 pg 125) $400
  7. 19 Kilby St (Bk 30709 pg  118) $1,880
  8. 152 Beacon St (BK 35723 pg 6)   $10,000
  9. 30 Hammond St (Bk 34478 pg 204) $470
  10. 32 Hammond St (Bk 34478 pg 209) $240
All of these parcels were sold by the City of Worcester either by direct sale or RFP (think just 152 Beacon) though Neighborhood Services for a grand total of $17,021. I do not know enough about the payraise for the guy at the School Department, but what was the amount $6,000?  The above properties were sold when real estate was hot.   Conservatively we could have sold these parcels for $350,000.  

March 29, 2010

Tomorrow City Council

  1. Transmitting Informational Communication Relative to the Appointments of Michael Amir and Robert Nemeth to the Airport Commission.
  2. Transmitting Informational Communication Relative to an Update on the City's Housing Strategy.

    click here for the summary

CDC Produrement

Tell me if this makes sense.  If the City of Worcester wants to put pretty much everything out to bid through the Purchasing Department.   No matter how small. 

The CDC's, although they are given $6,000,0000 do not have to put it out to bid like the Purchasing Department.   Does this make any sense?

Chandler NRSA accomplishments to date

Inception to current date
Approximately 350,000


  1. 38 Chandler Street Alan's
  2. 54 Chandler Street Roland's
  3. 208 Chandler Street Matt Dumas
  4. 210 Chandler Street Suney/Katch
  5. 216 Chandler Street Suney
  6. 232 Chandler Street Living Earth
  7. 344 Pleasant Street Bahnan's
Home Improvement

  1. 23 Newbury Street 13,680.35
  2. 20 Newbury Street 7,180.00
  3. 36 Newbury Street  15,0000
  4. 23 Hawley Street     11,440.00 
  5. 210 Chandler Street front     15,000.00
  6. 210 Chandler Street back     15,000.00
  7. 40 Mason Street     11,899.98
  8. 21 Preston Street     9,200.00
  9. 100 Piedmont Street    5,000.00
  10. 85 Piedmont Street   5,000.00
  11. 12 Congress Street 12,985.00
  12. 18 Bluff Street      8,260.00
  13. 174 Austin Street   5,800.00
  14. 98 Chatham 11,900.00
  15. 8 Hollwood 13,900.0

  1. MLK workforce development
  2. summer work crew 2007 
  3. summer work crew 2008
  4. summer cwork crew 2009
  5. planters and benches
  6. 4 camera systems
  7. 2 summer interns in 2007
  8. sponsored 2 earth days

March 28, 2010

HUD Audit Holyoke

Lets hope they don't audit Worcester. Story from the Springfield Republican:

HOLYOKE - Final say will come from the federal government.   But an official here said on Thursday the city made the best case it could in responding to an audit that found questions with how $3.87 million in community development money was used. 

"We have argued against every dollar (having to be repaid)," said Linda B. McQuade, deputy administrator of the city Community Development Office.    Office Administrator William H. Murphy told the Redevelopment Committee at City Hall it will be at least a month before the federal Housing and Urban Development office rules on whether the city must repay any money. 

The audit covered July 2006 to June 2009. It focused on city use of HOME program funds and Community Development Block GrantS.  Councilors questioned Murphy, McQuade and Richard P. Courchesne, Olde Holyoke Development president, which received most of the loans under one of the programs. The audit found that there was "ineligible, unreasonable or unnecessary" use of federal funds in relation to construction and demolition. 

After Murphy and McQuade said some of the disagreements are due to the city and the federal agency using different calculation formulas, committee Chairman Kevin A. Jourdain asked how that could be.
"My question is, how could we not be on the same sheet of music?" Jourdain said.   One dispute between the city and the auditor concerned the cost of seven duplexes. The auditor said the city overpaid to have them built by $288,933.

Amazon Associate

Just signed up for this service.  Last week I was in Disney, flew out of Boston on JetBlue to meet my wife and daughter.   Actually bought this book for $27 plus tax.  If you have nver read anythiong by Michael Lewis you should.

Most recently wrote BlindSide but also wrote Liar's Poker and Money Ball.

Kudos to Nick K

Telegram story on the lack of details regarding the sale of ORH

March 27, 2010

93 Grand Street

Years ago, this building use to be full of small offices.  Another parcel off the commercial rolls since this is the future home of another no-lo project from the Main South CDC.

March 26, 2010

Rick Santellu

March 25, 2010

Project Entering Final Stage

On Wednesday that was the title of the story in the Telegram, although I can not find a link on-line?, by Nick K.  HERE IS THE LINK. Another 22 units of affordable renting housing.  Just what we need.

This fourth phase of the project is in line for 6.4 million of Federal Funding.   O'kay, so lets do the math.  6,400,000 divided by 22  comes to approximately 291,000 per unit,.  Keep one thing in find the story only mentions Federal Funding, what about city Home Funds, State Home Funds and god knows what other entity may be giving this fourth phase grant monies.

Better yet, maybe we should take a look at the cost to assemble these parcels:

  1. 152 Beacon Street:  sold via an RFP process thru Neighborhood Services (bk 35723 pg 6) for 10,000.  Great price for this buildable lot.  If the Treasurer auctioned it off, it would have fetched in the 30,000 range.   The deed also stipulates first time home-buyers, not renters.
  2. 30 Hammond Street: City of Worcester through Neighborhood Services (bk 34478 page 204) sold this 4,720 square foot lot for a whopping $470.
  3. 32 Hammond Street:  City of Worcester through Neighborhood Services (bk 34478 page 209) sold this 4,765 square foot lot for $240.   Keep in mind 30 and 32 abut each other and could have fit a duplex, maybe even a tri-plex.  In 2004 if the market value of these lots together would have been in the $70,000 range.  The City of Worcester got $710.
  4. 43 Hammond Street: Main South CDC paid Linda Ferrie 5,000.  Why so low?  This lot had a tax bill in the 30-40 range, I forgot the amount.  Main South CDC was about to get 75% percent of it waived so they City lost $25,000 in back taxes.
Therse 4 parcels alone. The City of Worcester would have gotten another $90,000 on the first three parcels if they were auctioned.   Then add the 25,000 in waived taxes for 43 Hammond Street, we are looking at over $100,000 in lost revenues.

Now the water and sewer fees for these 22 units should be in the 100,000 range.  Maybe they pay it, maybe they don't? I don't know.   My point is that there are alot of hidden costs in lost opportunities that need to be recognized when an entity of the City of Worcester was able to assemble parcels of land and sell them below market value all under the auspices of our need for more no-low housing.

Flutie coming back to Worcester

Paul has been able to line up the Doug Flutie band for NolaFest this year!!!

Airport Correction

A good friend sent me an e-mail yesterday.   The city does in fact expect to save $2,000,000 per year from operations (debt service and their portion of the operating losses).   That savings, however, has already been incorporated into the 2011 budget. 

The story yesterday is referring to the City Manager using "one-time" $2,000,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the airport to apply against next year's budget deficit.   In total the sale of the airport is looking to provide $4,000,000 towards fiscal 2011 (2,000,000 from operations and 2,000,000 from the sale).

This begs the question, however, what are the details of the sale?  Maybe we should know that before we spend $2,000,000 of the proceeds?   

March 24, 2010

Airport sale

Now I am totally confused?    There is a story in the newspaper today about councilors being concerned about the City Manager the $2,000,000 from the "sale" of ORH, referrinig to it as "one time" money?

We are only getting $2,000,000 from the sale of ORH?   This is wrong.  I think the City Manager was referring to the fact the City of Worcester will be saving $2,000,000 per year by not having to pay the debt service and their portion of the operational deficit.   This is not a "one time" thing.

If they really thought this was a "one time" thing then they should be irate that we only got $2,000,000?   Correct me if I am wrong here, but I don't think we have any idea what we are going to get from the sale of ORH.   All we really know is that we don't have any more operational costs starting July 1st.

March 23, 2010

Building Had a Future?

That was the title in the Telegram regarding the fire of the proposed home of the Blackstone Valley visitor center.  Come on, the building as proposed had no future.  How long ago was that suppose to built?   Rumor has it that the cost had ballooned two times what was initially projected and they were not even close to getting the funds.

Feel bad this building burned but lets not recreate history.

Digital Billboard on 290

Rejected by ZBA

Is it just me or is this sign thing getting out of control?     I was at the last ZBA meeting and the wall murals may have seemed a little out of control to me.   A digital billboard on Route 290 to replace a billboard that is already there in an Industrial area like Harlow Street?   Personally I got no problem with that.    Isn't there already a message board there at CK Smith. 

Could this happen in Worcester

click here

March 22, 2010

Woogle Google

Mayor around the US are doing various stunts to attract Google, click here, and what about this video below from Duluth.

March 21, 2010


I have an idea.   Hanover should sign up the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (SWNIC), is that an oxymoron?,  as a minority partner.  They can they shift the property into SWNIC's name for $1 and get EPA grants for brownfields clean-up without having to pay back a dime since SWNIC is a non-profit.  Once the clean-up is done then shift it back for $ to the Hanover entity with SWNIC as a minority partner (done all the time in the City of Worcester).    Then SWNIC can invest all of their NRSA monies, that they did not invest in the neighborhood, into the project just like Main South CDC is doing with 93 Grand Street.

Then this entity should apply for HOME funds from the City and State,.Mass Housing Partnership and any other entity that you can think of for no-low housing just like all the other development projects in the City of Worcester.  Hell, you can even get monies for parking lots (Hadley), then add in all the variances and fees waivers (water/sewer charges etc) that you can most likely get since it is no lo houing. 

As development starts, they can even build their own sewer substation and run above ground pipes over the Commom.  If any other developer needs to store fill, store it here--nobody will say anything.  To top it off if the City wants them to sign any type of LDA, sign since nobody will enforce it anyhow. Then down the road if things go bad, they can always just ask for more monies.    Obviously I am being sarcastic but sadly none of this is an exaggeration.  This is the way development has been done in Worcester.  

Things are starting to change, however, lets not forget all the mistakes that we have made, hold those accountable who allowed this to happen and support Hanover with market rate housing that attracts people with money to live downtown.  Call it gentrification if you want, I don't care better then pajamafication.

March 20, 2010

47 Mason Street

Pictured above,    Why bother writing terms into a deed or write up an LDA, Land Disposition Agreement, if none of the terms are enforced.

The City of Worcester should do an audit of all properties disposed via the RFP process, or for that matter outside the RFP process, that had any special terms/deadlines added to the deed or put into an LDA to see how many out them are out of compliance.  

Next time an RFP that is written for land, I am going to bid, write up whatever is asked for,  hopefully win the bid and then do whatever I want paying no attention to what I agreed to.  Why not?  Nobody enforces any of the terms. In retrospect, we will see that the RFP process was used to take back tax-title properties, that the  Treasurer would have auctioned to the higest bidder, and steer them to friends who then developed no-lo housing.   This was a huge mistake.


I was thinking about the HOME funds awards the today and the part in the WoMag article about the Hadley "formerly the Burwick Furniture building, which the city plans to provide $250,000 for the construction of a tenant parking lot". 

Now we need to give them HOME funds to build a parking lot??  This stuff never ends!!  Worcester, the low no capital of New England.  

Lynch may vote against healthcare reform

March 19, 2010

City for Business Survey

Please take a moment to complete

click here

Route 146 Mall Linens and Things

No not Best Buy moving to Circuit City yet, but new national Wine Outlet, Wine Nation, supposedly going to Linens and Things.   God story in WoMag about Greendale Mall getting a new tenant.  National retailer or restaurant>  No the alternative school.

47 Mason Street

Drove by and noticed people were living in the house and decided to check to see what it sold for.  I have built similar houses in the City of Worcester and wanted to see what the market looked like, but I could not find a sale.  This surprised since I remember the whole initiative was for owner-occupancy as the deed stipulates from the City of Worcester after the RFP was awarded (Book 37717 page 59). 

  • How can you rent these units?

  • Would that not be a violation of the terms of the sale?
In the future I really do not see how the City of Worcester will be able to enforce the terms of any LDA based on their track history. 

Worcester Mag on Home Funds

Good little story from Jeremy, click here, on the HOME funds awards.   Let me elaborate on a couple points:

  • "Because previous HOME funded projects are having difficult time selling-and therefore at a risk of not meeting the requirements-more HOME funds are needed to convert them to rentals."    In other words, although we gave HOME funds initially to a project home home ownership, they are tanking and we don't want them to tank.  If they do, the City of Worcester not the developer (CDC usually) will have to pay back the HOME funds.   Versus having to pay back the HOME funds, we give them more HOME funds to stay afloat, while they attempt to get approval to convert to rentals.
  • "The city has had to get "creative" to avoid the traps of the current houisng market."  Not sure what is so creative about giving more HOME Funds to bail out a project other then the City of Worcester now has even more monies invested in these projects.   Have no fear, because even though the regulations require payback, it has never happened yet?   Reassuring...   
This is complete insanity. 

March 18, 2010

Direct Air

Wife and daughter flew Direct air to Orlando (Sanford).  Great flight, great price--no problems!! Can't wait until MassPort takes over.

One caveat,her flight was full, because the Saturday flight was cancelled???

Tim Cahil is right

In various articles yesterday, I read about Tim Cahill warning against Obamacare. He is 100% right. In particular, lets look at his numbers showing Medicaid going from 6.3 billion to 10.4 billion from 2005 to 2010. Why has that happened?


Imagine if we allowed elderly to qualify for Medicaid payments for nursing home care without an asset test and we based qualifications solely on income. You laugh, but that is what we are doing with CommonwealthCare?
Many cash businesses do not declare all of their income and are able to qualify for CommonwealthCare, although they may have substantial assets. These people then drop their private unsubsidized health plan and buy subsidized CommonwealthCare. Does this make any sense?
To top if off many people are able to join CommonwealthCare, although they may qualify for their employer sponsored group plan, There are not enough checks and balances at the Connector Authority to prevent this.
As more people found out about CommonwealthCare, this 10.4 billion will look small in a couple of years.

March 17, 2010

"Affordable" health plan

There is legislation regarding an "Affordable" plan, that was discussed in the newspaper yesterday, that will cap doctor and hospital charges for this one product to no more then 10% above what Medicare program pays. The current average reimbursement is on average 140%. Obviously if doctors and hospitals agree to 10% above Medicare for the "Affordable" plan, it will provide relief in premiums.

This begs two questions:
  1. What doctors and hospitals agree to this reimbursement schedule and accept "Affordable" subscribers, or will they be forced to?
  2. Lets assume everyone signs up, what will happen to the average reimbursement charged to non-"Affordable" subscribers?
We do not see doctors and hospitals agreeing to this reimbursement schedule, unless they are forced to. At which point the average reimbursement for non-"Affordable" subscribers. If this is in fact the case, what will really happen? Small businesses that enroll in the "Affordable" plan will receive relief, but everyone else will pay more.

The legislation, however, prohibits cost shifting like this, which will be monitored by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, but how are they going monitor this or enforce it? will be impossible for anyone to stop the shifting that will occur. The "Affordable" plan will merely make health more 'affordable" for some, while making it less "affordable" for others.

There are may things, which I have written about before, that can provide relief to all employers and employees. The "Affordable" plan is not one of them.

Hanover Buys In

Telegram story

March 16, 2010

South Worcester NRSA funds

I tried to apply for some monies (10,000) to do a roof over on a 3 decker that I own in the South Worcester NRSA.    Got turned down because it was not owner-occupied, South Worcester was the only NRSA to require owner occupancy to get funds..  

All things being equal, I would rather an owner-occupied house get preference.   When monies are left on the table in the South Worcester NRSA and not spent, maybe applicants of non-owner occupied houses should have been welcome???

March 15, 2010

City HOME funds

New list of HOME funds being given out tomorrow night in the City Council meeting, click here.   Seriously does it even end?
  1. Chevalier    700,000
  2. 67 Windsor   400,000  (Windsor Street LLP)
  3. 67 Catherine     120,000   (East Side CDC)
  4. 140 Eastern   180,000   (Worcester Stabilization)
  5. Hadley   250,000
  6. 315 Cambridge    150,000  (South Worcester Neighborhood Center)
  7. 26 Channing    270,000    (Channing Terrace Apartments)
  8. 89-109-115 Piedmont and 136 Austin 400,000 (Common Ground)
  9. 13-19 Lagrange 550,000 (Castle Hill Initiative) 
Seriously does it ever end.  Chevalier and Hadley, we knew that, but 315 Cambridge Street?  Yep, it is the South Worcester Neighborhood Center Improvement Corporation on the corner of Hacker/Cambridge, although Holy Cross has taken over payments of the 1st mortgage.  Another 150,000!!!  To date I have lost track but it is well, but from all the various sources it was at one point 650,000 so now we are up to $800,000.  Now that is not even counting the 1st loan to BankNorth, which was in the 1.4 million range but was bought down to $1.1 million..  These 11 units are now up to over $2.5 million--- this is insanity!!!    Here is the worse part, what do you think happens if BankNorth forecloses and the affordability period is violates, a requirement of these HOME funds, guess who has to pay it back?  The City of Worcester!!

Take a look at page 6 of the link above to see more details.


Blue Cross President Resigns

Health insurance is such a mess right now.  Clive Killingsworth, current President of Blue Cross, resigns today. 

Relief for Small Business Health Insurance Premiums

Here are some simple steps that would provide relief to small groups health insurance premiums:
  1. Stop the never ending open enrollment that enables people to buy health insurance for one month, have pre-existing conditions covered in full and drop health insurance the next month.
  2. Increase the penalty on employers and employees for not having health insurance.
  3. Add an asset test to CommonwealthCare like we do for nursing home payments through Medicaid.
  4. Audit CommonwealthCare to ensure subscribers are not eligible for employer sponsored group insurance.
  5. Allow employers to offer health insurance without prescription coverage and still meet MCC (minimum credible coverage) standards.
  6. Consider offering a plan that does not have all the costly state mandates as many large employers are able to do through their self-insured plan.

The last one may be impossible to do, but the first five can easily be done and help contain the health insurance premiums for small companies.

March 14, 2010

Chamber of Commerce

Maybe I missed it, but has the Chamber of Commerce made any comments on the 6 month sign moratorium?  

Can you imagine an issue like this happening in Boston without any protests from their Chamber of Commerce.

Robert Z Nemeth

Although I am just a silly blogger, when is the last time this guy has wrote anything pertinent?    How about today's political commercial for Karen Polito.  I like her and will most likely vote for her, but the story is more like a press release.

Mr Nemeth, last I heard, ORH is to be turned over to MassPort on July 1st.  Call me crazy, but how about story on the details of the sale???

Chevalier Furniture

I read in the newspaper yesterday, although I can not find right now, how they were being bought out by a larger national chain.  The employees, however, would be retained and the owner would be retained as the manager of the store, which will be located at the former Ethan Allen location in Auburn.

This may a stretch, but isn't this almost the perfect example of our over commitment to no-lo income housing?   Once stood a commercial tax-paying property and now we will have a another no-lo income housing project, while the underlying business moves out of the City of Worcester.  I know all the proponents of no-lo income housing will tell me how professional working people can qualify for these units, but drive by May Street and tell me how may professional working people are living there.

Here some links to some stories on this development that you may find interesting:

  • April 2, 2009    The Worcester project, by Winn Development, will receive $1.55 million in housing subsidies as well as $576,000 in federal credits and $2.5 million in state tax credits...   Bottom line $4,626,000 of our tax monies being given in the form of grants.   How can any private developer compete with $4,626,000 of "free monies".  
  • March 19, 2009.   According to the developer’s site-plan application, 32 of the 64 housing units will be low-income rental housing. The remaining 32 units will consist of mixed-income housing units that will remain as rental for five years — in connection with the historic tax credit period — and then have the potential for sale.  Is there anything from stopping all 64 units from be no-lo housing?
As developers can get $4,626,000 of "free" monies and our city continues to roll out the red carpet, we will only see more and more of these developments.  Projects coming to a neighborhood near you:
  1. Old Voke School
  2. Mason Street
  3. Southgate Place (Old City Builders)
  4. 93 Grand Street
Lets spend time talking about a 6 month moratorium on sign rather then the 800 pound guerilla that is taking over our city. 

March 13, 2010

Winn Development

Boston Herald Story



May Street Sewer Substation

Remember this old picture on the right of the above ground sewer line, over private property, from the Common Ground property to Main Street.

I decided to see where these pipes were coming from today.   Here are some photos from today of the substation that pumps sewerage through the line.  Remember the fall-out from the guy who built a tree house in his back yard.  Maybe he would have been better off building a sewerage substation.  Nobody would have bothered him.


March 12, 2010

Happy St Patricks Week-end

The Mahones with Damhnait Doyle - A Little Bit of Love

Capping small group health insurance renewals

In the mid 1980's the City of Worcester switched to a dual tax system:

  1. Residential
  2. Commercial

At the time the tax base was 60% residential and 40% commercial. Over the past 20 years we have seen the local politicians vote for consistently for the "lowest residential" tax rate to appeal to their voter base. Today, we have a residential tax rate of $15.15 per 1,000, while the commercial rate is at $33.28 per 1,000. If you have a commercial building assessed at $100,000, your tax bill is $3,328 per year.

If you were a business and were deciding to open in Worcester (33.28 per 1,000) or one of the surrounding towns, which mostly all have one tax rate, that has tax rates typically 1/3 of Worcester, where would you go? Not Worcester, that is exactly what has happened. Today our Commercial tax base is less then 20% and although we still vote lowest residential rate each year, the tax burden on the residents increases as businesses leave and new business is hard to attract.

Lets assume there is a 5% cap placed on small business health renewals. What effect do you think that will have on large group renewals? Their increases will be even worse to subsidize the "capped" small group renewals. What message does that send large businesses operating in Massachusetts or thinking of coming to Massachusetts? Go somewhere else.

Although it may sound good at first glance to put a cap on small group health insurance increases, the long term effects of driving larger businesses out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not good for anyone, including small businesses. Maybe we should provide real relief and reform:

  • allow small businesses to buy health insurance with prescription coverage (represents about 10% of the monthly premium) and still meet MCC standards
  • stop the never ending open enrollment problem, where people jump in and out of the system, while leaving us with the claims
  • add an asset test in order to be eligible for Commonwealthcare
  • audit subscribers to Commonwealthcare and make sure that they are not in fact eligible for their group sponsored plan
  • consider a plan for small groups that does not include all the state mandates (this would be hard to do), but large companies that self-insure are able to do this?

Address the problem with concrete changes that will actually provide relief to small businesses, not just shift their increases to large companies and make Massachusetts any more business unfriendly.

March 11, 2010

No signs?

I can undestand how there is a problem with the non-accessory wall murals, but I think it be be straigthened out.  BUT " impose a moratorium on new wall signs, illuminated signs, digital display signs and non-accessory signs, in any zoning district in the city".

This make any sense signman??   If I open a new business and want to buy a new message board to advertise my new business during this moratorium signman, can I put a sign up??

telegram link 

Worcester mag story

Paul and I 

Good story. 

March 10, 2010

Weden Lane Update

On Deposit!!

Next house in West Tatnuck.

Tosh O

David After 'David After Dentist'
Web Redemption2 Girls, 1 Cup ReactionDemi Moore Picture

Catching Up

  1. Santy's is open today.   Sorry about that and my apoligies to Santy.
  2. Eddie Santiago use to own a small grocery story on Wellington and Main, moved into the old Mart and then sold.  It has since changed hands to the current owner.  Eddie bought a liquor store in Westboro, Grapevine, that I heard was stuggling.
  3. Great editorial from Mr Chernisky today.
Was today's newspaper the Chamber of Commerce issue (pages 7-8-9-10)??   One part I liked the best:

Is the Chamber memebership for me?  My two favorite parts:
  • Advocacy.. the WRCC advocates on behalf of the region's business community? 
  • Public Policy ...  WRRCC is a strong voice and advocate on behalf of the region's business community?
If either were true, I would join in a second.    Right now there is proposed ban on all signs, where is the Chamber of Commerce?   Grease traps have been a huge issue in the City of Worcester, where is the Chamber of Commerce?     Lets not even get into the dual tax rate, which other then once a year at tax-rate setting time we hear nothing from the Chamber of Commerce.

Maybe less time advertising to join the Chamber and more time advocating and changing public policy to help the "region's business community" and people will join the Chamber. 

March 09, 2010

Menino mad about downtown crossing

Another great story in the Herald about Menino how he is mad about the stalled development of the Downtown Crossing project and how he has threatened to take back the property via eminent domain.  Last week the City of Worcester can learn from their "Dirty Dozen" project now we don't need to go as far as eminent domain, but how about the enforcement of the terms of an Land Disposition Agreement (LDA)?

March 08, 2010

Santy's Superette

I have been driving by this plac eon Chandler Street and it looks closed.   No rumor mill, just me.... Anyone know anything? 


These are all fancy terms that are thrown around, but one of the reasons the City of Worcester avoids the outright sale of properties that they own to the highest bidder at an auction through the Treasurer's Office is that they want to ensure the property is developed properly. How do they do that?

They issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) whereby anybody can submit a proposal.  They are all judged and give scores.  The proposal that gets the highest score wins.  Once that is determines the City of Worcester prepares a Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) or incorporates the terms of the winning bid right into the deed to ensure that the terms in the winning proposal are kept. 

All you need to do is go to deeds for these two lots on Mason Street:

  • book 37717 page 51
  • book  37717 page 59
The terms are clearly laid out in the deed, complete development in 2 years.  It has been over 4 years and we have nothing.    If we are not going to enforce the terms of the LDA, I personally am going to start to bidding on any RFP the City of Worcester develops and when I don't meet the terms. Why not, they are no enforce.

Worc--More low-no housing

In Saturday paper, click here

Worcester, which got $2.4 million last year, will get $1.3 million to redevelop 5 May St. for low-income rental units, and $700,000 to demolish a former factory at 95 Grand St., to transform it into a mixed-use development.

Thanks Z

March 07, 2010

48 Mason Street

Paullie posted this picture on face book.  I though it was a good idea to review this again.  The City of Worcester sold this property (former Royal Linen property) on November 5, 2005 via an RFP process to an entity called Mason-Winfield.  Here are some of the terms in the details:

  1. 11/2/5  book  37717 page 51   48 Mason Street--66,853
  2. 11/2/5 book 37717 page 59   47 Mason Street-- 43,147
  3. Total price 110,000
  4. Commence land development within one year specified in deed
  5. Complete development within two years specified in deed
  6. Land shall not be used for the storing or dumping of trash or refuse specified in deed
It has been four years, although the land was used for dumping to store fill when the new Worcester State Parking garage was built, development has not started yet never mind finished.  So much for "rebuilding the neighborhhood".  

Mason Winfield did, however, take advantage of one of the partners non-profit status (Common Ground) and obtained a 170,000 grant (don't have to pay it back) from the EPA.   How did they do that? 
  • Two months (11/1/6 book 38185 page 55) after the purchase Mason Winfield transferred 48 Mason Street to one of the minority owner stake-holders (Worcester Common Ground, a non profit entity) for $10,
  • Common Ground applies and gets the grant and since they are a non-profit Mason Winfield does not have to pay back the grant.
  • Note if I was to get this grant I would have to pay it back.  Note to self, get a non-profit to be a 1% owner in next project to get free EPA grant monies
The current LDA is out of compliance the City of Worcester should take steps to take the property back.

Diane W

Great story on City Square.  Must read, click here.

March 06, 2010

City Square Forcelosure

Telegram story

What can you say?

Dirty Dozen

The Chandler Business Group, represented by Paul and myself, recently met with some City officials about problem properties.   One of my pet peeves has been the district sweeps by CMET (City Manager Enforcement Team).   It ends up with lots and lots of code violations, and not fault of the members of CMET, but does it really address the problem.   The ironic thing is if they were to go to my mom's street in Tatnuck Square and do the same sweep, it would also result in hundreds of code violations. 

The CMET team is good but we should have them focus on the habitual offenders.  Years ago I read in a report by Roberta Schaefer.  In it a recommendation was made to have CMET focus on a "Dirty Dozen" listing of properties, like they were doing in Toledo.  In fact I met with City Manager Hoover and Paul LaCava and made the recommendation. 

Coupe of weeks ago, I brought it up again.  Paul loved it and has been placed in charge of getting the "Dirty Dozen" program going.   Today he calls me and tells me to check out the Boston Herald, click here

March 05, 2010

Big Fire

On Main Street.  Many of the streets are blocked, but I have been told it is the building across the street from Moynihan's.  Helicopters over the area.  Can anyone confirm the location.   Actually it is that location, here is a link. to the Telegram .

Worcester Mag

Last night Paul and I sat down with Tim O'Keefe from Worcester Mag to discuss the local blogging scene that will appear in next week's issue.     Ended up having a great time, thanks Tim.

Also met for a brief second, Nicole. another blogger.  God stuff-added it as a link.  

Two principals got the ax

Story in the Telegram today about the principals at Union Hill and Chandler Elementary.   Admittedly I am no expert on the Worcester School system, but I can not tell you how many friends of mine say that they can not send their kids to Worcester schools, but is it really the princials fault.

Check out the demographics.  One school has 97.4% low income while the other had 98.8%.   I would suggest that these schools poor performance  is more a direct result of our housing policy that past 15 years with our over-reliance on low-mod income housing through all the CDC's.      

March 04, 2010

40 B

Great Opinion piece in the Worcester Business Journal. 

Commerce Bank Robbed

I was just downtown buying lunch and the police are everywhere. Looks like my bank, Commerce, just got hit. Also see lots of police on the corner of Irving and Pleasant--maybe they caught the robber?

Telegram story

Worcester Signs

Link to their web page

Diamond Chevrolet

I am hearing that a supermarket is looking at this location. Which one?


March 03, 2010

Glodis Story

There was a story in the newspaper how consultants were hired without going through the bid process. Does anyone know who exactly the consultants were?


I actually went to the ZBA meeting the other night. A compnay, the Worcester Sign Company, applied for a "Special Permit" for "non-accessory wallscape advertising" at 5 different locations:

  1. 414 Main Street (Owl Shop)
  2. 154 Main Street (Elwood Adams)
  3. 240 Main Street (Barry Krock)
  4. 37 Pleasant Street (Paul Saleba)
  5. 64 Water Street (Komenos family)

It is non-accesory since the sign could advertise products and services that had nothing to do with the business inside; for example,the Owl Shop wall could have a picture of a model with Calvin Klein underwear. The Worcester Sign Company would find people who would want to advertise on the space and obivously pay a rent or a percentage of the advertising fee with the owner of the property.

To be honest, I was not sure and still not sure where I stand on this. One of the problems, as board member Abramoff pointed out, it was hard to tell how big the signs would be in relation to the wall. The long and the short of it was all the permit requests mainly because it to manage and protect the character of its downtown. It was also pointed out at the meeting that these large signs could be a distraction and cause traffic problems.

I don't necessarily disagree, but I have one question. Why then is it o'kay to have non-accessory signage on the DCU Center?

Jacoby Editorial

Good one today in Boston Globe on Al Gore and his Global warming business.

March 02, 2010

Illforno and Shavarsh

Earlier in the week it was Shavarsh, now it is Illforno--moving to the old McDonald's in West Boylston.

Story In Yesterday's Paper

New ticketing for code violations, click here.

Here is my question. If a tenant throws a mattress or old refrigerator in the yard, who gets the ticket? The landlord or tenant? I can understand the city sending me a code violation and me having to pay to remove the mattress or refrigerator myself, but now I may get a ticket for my tenant's bad behavior??

We want people to invest in Worcester. An aggressive policy making sure sidewalks are shoveled makes sense to me. To ticket landlords for code violations that they did not create is anti-business.

Let me give you an example. I own a 3 decker on Downing Street and I do not rent to Clark kids, but the 3 decker behind me does. Every Spring when the kids move, they literally throw their rubbish on the sidewalk. No lie, it has happened 4 of the last 5 years. I suspect under this new policy, I would get a ticket.

Ticket for unshoveled walks because it is easy to prove whether or not you shoveled. Ticket for code violations that you have no control of ??

Cranky Flier

Brent has a nice piece today.

Although he does not like the fact Rockford received grant monies, you got to love how aggressive Rockford is.. Do you think ORH even applied?

March 01, 2010


In lieu of paying me off your UNUM debt. Hook up NolaFest with EMC, we could use a corporate sponsor. It may be cheaper for you.

UNUM Lease

Lets face it, the negotiations are not going good. Actually there may be a good cause, who would UNUM be negotiating with anyhow-Hanover/Berkeley?

That said I never really liked the idea of UNUM going to City Square anyhow. Here we have a large employer already downtown that own a sizable amount of real estate. Myself I would rather see them looking for TIF's whereby they invest in their current properties and bring more jobs into the City of Worcester.

Moving jobs from their current location to City Square, almost gives them more flexibility to disinvest from their current real estate holdings and eventually leave the city for Maine or Tennessee. Bottom line is that I hope UNUM does not move downtown, but we get other comparable companies that are not currently located in Worcester to call City Square home.