April 30, 2010

Restaurant Storefront on MLK

Remember the RFP where the city was going to take out a loan to get it ready for a restaurant.    Has the bid been awarded?

Remember Paulie's rumor.  Click here in case you forgot

More Direct Air Press

Click here

Jahn Bet

Jahn I bet you straight up that the Crown Plaza will sell more then ORH.   If you win, I buy breakfast.  If I win, you have to attend NOLA fest.

ORH Sale

Nick K has some details today in the Telegram, click here.  

As I have been saying for months, or is it years now, I believe MassPort will completely turn ORH around.  At the same time, I have been saying that we are leaving monies on the table.   I fear alot more monies that I actually thought.   Never heard of an asset being sold for based on your costs to carry the asset the past 6 years.     In the end my gut tells me the City of Worcester is going to end up getting alot less for ORH then the Mass School of Pharmacy just paid the Crown Plaza (16.8 million).

I can understand the part about the "the airport could not be structured as a traditional real estate asset deal", then maybe we should have looked into a 99 year lease like Stewart International did when they lease their airport for 99 years to National Express in 1998 for 35 million.   It all goes back to when a group of us submitted a letter to the Airport Commission 4 or 5 years ago telling them to privatize the airport.   Translation--put out an RFP to lease out the airport.   This was dismissed.

Again Massport will be great for the future of ORH, but we are going to be dumping this asset way below what we should have.   Jahn, I bet the Crown Plaza will end being sold for more then ORH.

April 29, 2010

Illegal Immigration vote at State House

Kudos to Binienda and Fresolo for voting that taxpayer funded benefits go only to those who are eligible to receive them.  Click here to see how you rep voted.  

A "no" vote meant you required that anyone attempting to receive a public benefit must first be verified by the Federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement program "SAVE." This system is already in existence and is both inexpensive and produces prompt results. The amendment also includes exemptions for those under the age of 18 and in disaster situations where state benefits must be accessed in an expeditious manner.

The "no's" lost so theis amendment did not pass. 

April 28, 2010

Mass School of Pharmacy to buy hotel


Direct Air

Can they ever get good press?  Click here

Last week a Direct Air flight from Plattsburg, New York to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina left fourty bags behind after the airline prioritized getting golf bags onto the plane. “The golf bags went on first so we could make sure, because people are coming down to golf and they want to have their clubs on the course,” Direct Air Managing Partner Judy Tull told WPTZ-TV. Direct Air said they overnighted the luggage left behind, but passengers who had to wait an extra day on their bags were understandably upset

Mayo Group

Story in today's paper by Clive, click here.   Read it.  Not sticking up for the Mayo Group and their asbestos problems, but I do not see how we can question who a private owner hires.

On the other hand, I think we have a right to ask why some of our community builders do not hire more Worcester based contractors, since the City of Worcester supports many of these projects financially..   Matter of fact one is hard pressed to ever see anyone Worcester based contractors ever working at any of their job sites.     Look no further then the work being done at the former City Builders site or on Piedmont Street.  Not only is the GC from out of town but I have yet to see a local sub.

April 27, 2010

Crowne Plaza

Closes.  Click here.

I say lets move the homeless in. 

City Council Live Blog Coverage

Click here
moderated by Jeremy at WoMag

Weden Lane

Officially closed today at 238,500.  Thought I would have gotten more fot it, but we had fun.  Next real estate project that I will update here on the blog will be a three decker we purchased on Cambridge Street (297-299).  

April 26, 2010


Just opened a block away from my office.  What is a crepe? 


Not a good week to be a tax-payer in the City of Worcester, residential or commercial.   Water and sewer rates going up 10-15% and there is a push to tax to the max (12 million).   At a time when we want to attract residents and businesses to come to Worcester, not sure if this is the message that we want out there.

Many times I have read Jahn mentioned that Worcester is heading towards receivorship.  Never real gave it much credence but in the last few months:
  • two failing schools
  • use of one time monies to meet budget
  • taxing at the max levy
  • increasing water and sewer rates
The sky is not falling, but all of these things bolster Jahn's prediction.

Rumor Mill

Pearl Street restaurant closing.  The mgmt of the place across street from the courthouse and the deli in the Med City taking over?


April 25, 2010

Beacon Street demo halted

There was an article in the Telegram this week how the owner of a building on Beacon Street was denied a demolition order inder the premises it is a historic building.  I can not help but think how the Citizens for Business Philadelphia Plan would be perfect to help this building get developed:

  • waiving of all permit fees
  • waiving all water and sewerage connection fees
  • lock in of assessed value for ten years
Keep a close eye on this.  Would not be surprised to see this building being sold to a developer of low income housing over the next month. 

Tax Levy

Nick wrote about it today, click here.   It is official now. 

Over the past two weeks, the Councilor Gemain and Mayor O'Brien have floated up the idea of increasing the tax to the max or $12 million increase in taxes to all tax-payers. Currently the City of Worcester is not limited to 2 1/2 percent, since they are 12 million below the max tax levy.  In other words, the City Council can vote to increase the taxes without a 2 1/2 percent over-ride vote by 12 million 

You can vote lowest residential all you want, but a $12 million dollar tax increase is going to cost residents.  As Nick accurately points out "hold your wallets".   If nothing else maybe commercial and residential tax-payers will realize that we are all in the same boat with this push that will surely heat up now that it is in the open.

My guess is that, in the end, the Council will only go up $6 million and say they saved the tax-payers $6 million by not taxing to the max. 

April 22, 2010

Health Insurance update

Yesterday Blue Cross issued a directive that effective May 1st , 2010. All new business must include all items required to enroll a group must be submitted to the carrier 30 days in advance of the effective date.

If a group in the 1-50 markets wants to enroll with Blue Cross June 1st, for example, all information must be submitted by May 1st. Why would an insurance company institute such a requirement, when the current requirement is on average 5 days in advance?

Look no further then the article in the Boston Globe earlier in the month entitled, “Short-term customers boosting health costs.” The never-ending guarantee open enrollment that enables subscribers to obtain health insurance on demand, have pre-existing conditions in full without question and then allows them to cancel without penalty is costing the insurance companies a bundle. This in turn drives up the premiums for everyone in the 50 and under market.

Imagine if employers allowed their employees to enroll anytime that they wanted for their group sponsored health insurance plan and have pre-existing conditions covered in full, instead of the annual monthly open enrollment? Participation would drop dramatically, while the loss ratios would explode since employees would be obtain health insurance only when they needed it.

Blue Cross has decided to at least put a 30 day wait on the current insurance to curtail this abuse. Will it help? Sure will!! The uninsured, however, who need immediate coverage will merely go to other carriers, who have yet to adopt the 30 day wait. What next? All the other carriers will follow the Blue Cross lead and adopt a 30 day wait.

I can understand why Blue Cross has made this change, but let’s address the problem and go with a one month open enrollment, because the next step will be for a carrier to go to 45 day wait and the rest will follow. Then after that 60 days and then where will it stop?

Best Buy

Opens this Friday in Blackstone.   Greendale Best Buy in Worcester will not make it to the end of the year.  My humble prediction.

April 20, 2010

JetBlue to Hartford

Thanks Dave Z and Harry T

click here

April 19, 2010

Kane knocks out Cooke

Direct Air on Facebook

Maybe not a good idea?
Click here

Even more bad press

April 18, 2010

Housing Policy

One of the bigger issues we will see over the next few months will be the Housing Policy in the City of Worcester.  This is extremely important.   Admittedly I know nothing about the public school system in the City of Worcester.  I feel the failure of the two schools recently in the City of Worcester resulting in the firing of both principals, however, may be a direct result of our Housing policy as much as anything else.   The surrounding housing and the residents it attracts, who then send their children to the local public school, has as much to do with the success of that school.  Maybe instead of firing the principals, who I don't think deserve all the blame, we need to fire out housing policy.

Same for downtown.

Same for the businesses that are attracted to the City of Worcester.  Are you listening Chamber of Commerce?   The Chamber did a great job on the sign ordinance, lets hope they get as involved with this issue as well.    The type of housing that we build has a direct link to the types of business that will want to or should I say now not want to come to Worcester.   The Chamber needs to be involved.

Over the next few months some people will be portray anything other then the status quo as being against lo-no housing.   Nothing could be further from the truth.   Low income or affordable housing has a vital role to play, but the City of Worcester has put an over reliance on this housing.  Simply put enough already.   Just because you say, we have enough and are way beyond what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandates does not mean one is against it.

We need a balance in the City of Worcester.   A balanced housing policy will have a direct effect on our public schools and the commercial base.  It is simply that important.

April-Adopt a greyhound month

Mason Street & Butler Bank

We have talked many times about the lots on Mason Street that were sold via an RFP to the Mason-Winfield partnership.  The biggest lot, the former Royal Linen property, remains desolate over 4 years later, although the deed called for development within 2 years.

There was a smaller lot across the street, where duplex was built for home ownership.  Nobody has bought it, although it does appear that it is being rented?   The reason I bring this up today was that when the duplex was being built there was a sign "Financed by Butler Bank".   I never heard of Butler Bank before but I did yesterday.

They were the seized yesterday, story in the Boston Globe, by the Massachusetts Division of Banks.  

April 16, 2010

Rosen Reaction

New piece in Womag, thought it was good

April 15, 2010

City Kills Billboard Moratorium

Read the headliine yesterday above a story written by blog fav Nick K.   Ironically I was at the initial meeting, when a member of the ZBA suggested a board moratorium.   To me that mad sense to me also and I can understand why the City Council in turn asked for the moratorium.

As time went on, however, I learned more about this issue as I think other members of the City Council did with the help of the people who own the sign businesses and the Chamber of Commerce.   In the end I agree with Coucilor Smith's assertion that "the moratorium was no longer needed because the city administration will be submitting to the council in two weeks new zoning rules and regulations governing signs."
Bottom line although this was "messy", as Councilor Petty explained, I feel the Council respected the suggestion of the ZBA but did the right thing by not adopting it.   Think this is actually a good example of how government should work. 

Kudos to the people who own sign companies for getting involved and especially to the Chamber of Commerce.  Lets hope they get involved in issues like this that come up all the time and represent the business interests of the community like they did here. 

April 13, 2010

Chandler Business Social

April 14th
5:30 PM to 7:00PM
All invited.

Hope to see some bloggers there. 

April 12, 2010

Allegiant Air 1st qtr results

Allegiant Air, which is expanding its schedule of flights from secondary airports to vacation destinations, said Monday that traffic soared 16.4 percent in March.

The airline said paying passengers flew 545.6 million miles last month, up from 468.6 million miles in March 2009.

The rapid gain in traffic barely outstripped an increase in capacity, which rose 15.7 percent, to 587.4 million available seat miles, a measure of one seat flying one mile. Airlines boost capacity by adding flights or using larger planes.

Average occupancy, or load factor, rose to 92.9 percent from 92.3 percent a year ago.

Allegiant joined discount carrier AirTran and traditional carrier Continental in reporting strong gains in March traffic, adding to evidence that travel demand is recovering after the recession.

For the first quarter, Allegiant said traffic rose 18.6 percent, capacity increased 17.4 percent, and occupancy rose to 91.7 percent from 90.8 percent.

Shares of parent Allegiant Travel Co., which sells hotel rooms and rental cars along with air service, fell 61 cents to $55.79 in morning trading.

April 11, 2010

What a play

April 09, 2010


The live coverage on-line is awesome

go to


then click

on live link

Task Force

Many times I have mentioned here that the task force Mayor Murray put together on the PILOT issue was great.   Jim Leary ran it perfectly and the kids from the local colleges were unreal, as well as the people from CEO for Citites.  In the end we put together a great report with great recommendations that resulting in the formation of the Univercity Partneship, which was a complete failure.

The biggest mistake we made, which we addressed during our meetings, was that we would have follow-up meetings 6 months, 12 months etc later to review our recommendations and to see how they are being implemented.  We never had a meeting.

I am confident the current task force will do a good job, I only ask them to schedule a meeting now to review their recommendations in 6 months after their report is released.

Worcester Tea Party

April 15th--hope to see some silly bloggers there

Sign Question

I got a question..  Today I was driving through Kelly Square and I noticed a portable digital sign in front of the Auto Glass place.    Where do I start?

  1. Is this legal under the current ordinance?
  2. Is this considered a temporary sign?
  3. Does a permit need to be pulled for this sign?

April 08, 2010

Buddy The Beagle

Rest In Peace  

picture tribute

Worcesteria today

TECHNICALLY, IT IS TAX SEASON: It’s April, which means it’s time for city councilors to start hinting at what side of the dual tax rate line they’re on. Last December, when the tax levies for 2010 were set, many councilors criticized the political body for making springtime promises regarding how they would vote the following winter. But history seems to be repeating itself, as a couple of councilors have now hinted which way they’ll vote next time. While discussing using money from the sale of the airport in conjunction with street, sidewalk and school repair, Councilor At-Large Mike Germain bluntly said “It may be time to have the honest, straight-forward discussion about whether or not we’re going to hit the tax levy or not. I think it’s time that we have the courage to stand up and say let’s do it.” Germain went on to say that if there’s a way to demonstrate to tax payers that there will be an “ROI” (Return on Investment) then some will agree that the money would be well spent on streets and sidewalks or more police officers. After his speech, Mayor Joe O’Brien added a quick “Well said, Councilor Germain,” before deferring the floor to district 3 Councilor Paul Clancy, who started his speech by distancing himself from the idea with a “Yeah, says you, Mr. Mayor. Not me.”

City Council Meeting

Last night I watched the City Council meeting and followed it on-line through Jeremy Shulkin, WoMag reporter, site.

It is kind of neat.  Click here

Next week you should check it out.    

New Nike Tiger Commercial?

April 07, 2010

Airport Sale

Said this 100 times but here goes again:

  1. Very glad we are out of the airport business
  2. Once MassPort takes owenership, ORH is going to (excuse the pun) take off
  3. Think we made a mistake not putting the entire airport out to RFP the past 10 years, I think we left some money on the table
  4. Based on the information that I am reading maybe we would have been better off with a 99 year lease type deal versus an outright sale?
Lets just be happy ORH will become an asset to the tax-payers.

Affordable Housing by town

click here

Thanks Dave Z

Massport loans?

One of the things that has bothered me most with the sale to MassPort , that I have mentioned many times, is that all monies that MassPort has contributed the past 10 years+ will be credited to the sale; for example, if the agreed upon price was $20 million and MassPort has paid $13 millions to close our budget gap---we net out 7 million.

Today I heard the Mayor on the Peter Blute show explain this and he referred to the monies MassPort paid as loans?   Never knew that these were loans?   In fact I vividly remember Robert Z Nemeth saying numerous times in articles how grateful we should be to MassPort for helping us pay for the airport.  All the time they were loans?

April 06, 2010


Shooting by Crystal Park tonight around 9:00PM on Gates near Hollis.    Did not look good.

April 05, 2010

New sign at 146 Mall

This sign put up today. 
Do you still think Best Buy will stay in the Greendale Mall?

April 04, 2010

Nick K

Another good story by Nick K.   Still amazes me how little we know about the sale of an asset like ORH when we are so close to the actual transfer date.

New housing policy

I know said the other day, I would come up with more details today but don't have any?   It is just real common sense what is being said.   Lets hold the low-moderate income housing levels at the current level (14%), which is already way about the 10% threshold as required by the state.   Lets support more market rate housing projects in the City of Worcester.

Who can seriously argue against this???   Think we all know who will--the developers of these low-moderate income housing projects.  There was one very interesting thing.  The new Housing report calls for a 7-9 member Neighborhood Area Revitalization Council.    I qualify to be a member and will be putting my name in.

The key to remember here is that some people may try to portray this as an attack on low-mod income housing.  It is not!!  Merely it is just a recommendation to keep the levels where they are at now. 

Never-ending open enrollment

One of the major problems with Massachusetts healthcare reform is the insurance companies need to accept people with pre-existing conditions 365 days per year.  People merely sign up for coverage, get all their pre-existing conditions and then drop the coverage--only to do it again.   The insurance companies are getting killed by these people so what does the insurance companies do?  Raise the rates on everyone else. 

People will call these rate increase as being the "big mean insurance" companies lining their pockets, but what do you think would happen to your home-owners or car insurance companies if insurance companies were forced to cover houses that were already on fire or cars after they were in an accident.   I have talked about this many times, including in the Telegram with my "As I See It" piece.

Today the Boston Globe has front page story on it

April 03, 2010

Sleepy Chamber

In the past I have often criticized the Chamber for being a one trick pony.  Once per year at tax time they write the same editorial and get on all the radio shows then make a cameo at a City Council meeting.  I have to give credit, where credit is due.  They got involved in the discussions on the sign ordinance and did a very good job representing the interests of the business community.

Lets hope this is the beginning of a new Chamber.    Here we have a new housing policy that will be good for our Commercial tax base.  The Chamber of "Commerce" should be all over this.

New Housing Policy

I just read through it quick...    Will follow up in more detail tomorrow..   Again click here.     The two major points are:

  1. Worcester will maintain its housing that is affordable to low and moderate income households, currently estimated at 14%--far above the 10% required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  2. Worcester will promote housing development that supports a variety of housing types at desginated target areas throughout the the City.

Translation.  In the past we have done a great job creating housing for low to moderate income households.  In fact such a good job that we are way beyond what the Commonwealth requires, lets slow down and maintain at the current level.   On the other hand, we need to promote market, or dare I say housing, promote housing that attract people who make money.

Question:    Who can possibly disagree with these two points?

Answer:    The people who have made alot of money building these low to moderate income units.  To them, holding steady at 14% is not good for their bottom line. 

Stay tuned, we are sure to hear the people who stand to lose argue that 14% is not enough that the City of Worcester needs more no low housing.  What do you think?

Signs in St Louis

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) -- When it comes to putting up signs, the City of St. Louis wins, at least for now. The federal court in Eastern Missouri sided with the city over Jim Roos who put up the mural in south st. louis near Soulard.   The mural reads: "End Eminent Domain Abuse."  Roos had challenged the city's denial of a permit for the sign. The federal court upheld the city's position.  Jim Roos told KMOX's Mark Reardon there will be an appeal. "Thats the understanding between the city and us, if we eventually loose and there are no more appeals we'll remove the sign. Until that time however I think the sign is going to remain" Said Roos.

Roos called the ruling a blow to free speech.  He claims his mural would be legal if it featured a flag, a crest, civic symbol or if the city deemed it a work of art.  Roos had the mural painted on the side of a building in March 2007 to protest the city's use of eminient domain to take properties owned by Sanctuary , a low income housing organization.   The city has maintained it violated the sign code.

April 02, 2010

Paulie's blog

Puts things in perspective

Worcester New Housing Policy

Let me get my priorities straight.  Happy Easter and enjoy your family this week-end, whihc looks to be beautiful, and watch the Red Sox-Yankees Opening Day game Sunday.  This past Wednesday the City of Worcester presented their new Housing policy to the City Council.  Click here. 

It is kind of long so my homework assignment is to read through it today and tomorrow and give my review for Easter Sunday. Before I do that, lets review the 2002 RKG Housing report to the City of Worcester, click here.    Here are some of the hi-lights:

  • The City of Worcester should find a balance in its affordabe housing needs that benefits all of its residents.   
  • More emphasis should be placed on attracting a bigher 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.
  • While renovation work has helped stabilize some of the neighborhoods, especially at a time when the redevelopment was needed, their subsidized development has alientated some local builders/developers.
  • The CDC's in the future should be considered more of a developer of last choice, and the focus of the CDC's should shift to creating necessary amentities that are lacking in some of the densely developed areas of the submarkets. 
In 2002 none of these recommendations were adopted.   Are you happy with the results in the City of Worcester since then??     I am not.  

As I heard Kate Toomey say once during the last campaign, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, but expect different results.    Lets hope this new Housing policy reflects the recommendations outlined in the RKG Study 8 years ago and this time we listen.

April 01, 2010

Division of insurance rejects small group health rates increase

The thing I find the most amazing about this is that the rejected rates today for April, May and June is that---employers started working on their April renewals in Februar and have already made their decisions for April. Should not the Division of Insurance be approving or rejecting these rates at least two months before the effective date? This is only going to causeeven more confusion for strained groups and what will this really do. Answer--nothing. In fact the caps on what insurance companies may in the long run cause more damage then good.

Here (again) are some steps the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can take to provide real relief to small businesses:

1.Stop the never-ending open enrollment! People are able to sign up one date, have all their medical conditions covered the next and then cancel their insurance when all the medical conditions are treated. Only to do it again six months later, then we wonder why insurance premiums are out of control for everyone else? Just like any private/public carriers, or even Medicare, we need to limit open enrollment to one month per year

2.Allow employers to buy coverage without prescription coverage and while still meet MCC (minimum credible coverage) standards to avoid the penalty. The prices of the major pharmacies to buy prescriptions out of pocket without health insurance are incredible. Walmart, last time I checked, sold over 400 drugs for $4 for a 30 day supply or $10 through the mail for a 90 supply. Conservatively this alone would be a 10% reduction in premiums.

3.Allow employers to opt out of all the state mandates, like many self insured groups do. This also would conservatively take another 10% off premiums.

4.CommonwealthCare bases their acceptance solely on income. An asset test, like we do for Medicaid, needs to be added. It makes no sense for a person of substantial assets or the owner of a "cash" business, but who may have actual declared income under 300% of the Federal poverty level have his, or her, insurance premium subsidized by the rest of us. Also their are many people participating in this program that are eligible for an employer sponsored health plan, which make them ineligible for Commonwealthcare. An audit needs to be done.

5.We need to increase the penalties on individuals that do not have health insurance, although I question in the end how this can be enforced. Currently a person can claim that his medical beliefs do not allow for the purchase of health insurance. How is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts going to prove, or disprove, someone religious ideology.

6.Tort reform. I am not a lawyer, so I will let someone else get into more detail on this.

Lets focus on real ways, as outlined above, to control costs not political maneuvering which actually causes more harm then good.

Stewart Airport Newburgh, New York

Don't get me wrong I think MassPort taking over ORH will be great for Worcester, but let me tell you a little story about the airport above:

1)   In April, 1998, New York State selected the U.K. firm National Express to lease Stewart Airport for 99 years. Stewart thus became the first U.S. airport to be fully privatized and the first participant in the FAA’s airport privatization pilot program to complete the process.

National Express Group PLC offered $35 million in cash up-front, plus a percentage of airport revenues. Its bid was judged superior to those of the other four finalist teams: American Port Services (Baltimore), D.M. Airport Developers (Morristown, N.J.), Airport Group International (Glendale, Calif.), and LCOR / Schiphol Airport (New York City).

2)  In 2007, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey  purchased the lease of Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., about 70 miles north of Manhattan from National Express for  $78.5 million lease. The agency could take over operations at the airport by this fall. . The law allows the Port Authority to expand outside of its current jurisdiction area, a 25-mile radius from the Statue of Liberty

As the details of the sale to MassPort evolve keep these numbers in mind.   Not saying Worcester is Stewart but 78.5 million for the remaining terms of the lease, not even ownership/  


Did Google pick them??

Go to the google website