March 06, 2011

Telegram Story on 48 Mason Street

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Reversionary Clause

No reversionary clause in the original documents.  In other words, the City of Worcester puts out an RFP (Request for Proposal), awards the bid to Mason Winfield LLC and requires within the deed (10/31/2005) that the townhouses must be built within two years, but forgets to put in any penalty if the townhouses are not built within the two years?     How the hell did that happen?

Now, as the new City Housing Director Jacqueline Vachon-Jackson says, "she is strongly considering bringing legal action to take the Mason Street parcel back."   If there was a reversionary clause in the original deed in 2005 or LDA (Land Disposition Agreement) there would be no need for this.

$400,000 EPA grant.
  • If a for profit developer receives EPA brownfields monies, you need to pay it back.  
  • If a non-profit developer receives EPA brownfields monies, they do not have to pay it back.   
  1. Mason Winfield LLC (for profit), the winning bidder, transfers the parcel to Common Ground (non-profit) and minority partner in the Mason Winfield LLC for $100.     
  2. Common Ground ,  whose Executive Director readily admits in the story that they are not the "real owner", apply for and receive $400,000 from the EPA that they do not have to pay back.
  3. Once the final bill ("expected soon") of environmental health is received, the property will get deeded back from Common Ground (the fake owner?) to Mason Winfield LLC, the "real owner".   
Not only does this put a for profit developer at a disadvantage, does anyone else just see something wrong with this?    A for profit developer is receiving the benefits of $400,000 of tax-payer monies through the EPA Brownfield as a grant, not loan,  by manipulating Common Ground's non-profit status. 

$700,000 versus giving it back

In the story the Executive Director of Common Ground (the fake owner) says he would consider giving it back.  On the other hand the "real owner' says he has invested more then $700,000 of his own monies.  If you were the "real owner", would you give the lot back to the City of Worcester???  

Orchestrated Complaints

Is being up front telling people what we think "orchestrated"?     I can tell you this, however, none of the anonymous complaints have been from us (Chandler Business Association).   Why would we be anonymous?  Also I do not consider using 48 Mason Street as a land fill site, which is clearly prohibited by the deed and by city ordinance for two local construction projects (Worcester State Parking Garage and the sewer work on May-Main Streets) as being trivial. 

Does this look like a "grassy field"?


In the end this project was a good project, had the full support of the Chandler Business Association and it is too bad that it was not completed.  At the same time if you are going to bid on an RFP and win the award, you need to comply with the terms of the bid.   You can not blame the real estate market or the economy?   Sadly all of this could have been avoided if they City of Worcester simply had a reversionary clause in the deed or LDA.

Lastly I agree that there is no "special treatment" today, that was given back in 2005 when the the prior Housing Directory deeded this city owned property without any reversionary clause.


Jahn said...

Good that Sutner got this out, HOWEVER..........I do hope there is more ink on this topic.

I am not sure there will be a follow up story tomorrow (partII)?????. IMO, there s/b.

If am Sutner, I am laying low with a piece for Mid June or there abouts. THis gives them 3+ months to COMPLETELY clean up the property.

IF NOT cleaned to CBA's satifaction another piece s/b then be written with a color photo with that dump at Piedmont and Chandelr behind the Automobile lot. Ya know I had driven past that place for years and assumed until the last few years that it was owned by the car lot for possible expansion. I knew someone who used to rent there about 20 yeears ago.

I too, also see lotsa bobbing and weaving by the parties involved. And to think that Worc Common it is allegted has in the past rated out landlords in their "CDC Mission Area" for what basically amts. to a parking meter

Time for picketing in certain sections of the city/suburbs?

David Z. said...


With all due respect, the T&G finally runs a story about this issue that you, Paul and the Chandler Street Business Association have tried so many times to get out in the forefront of the Worcester electorate, and what do you get? Cue the crickets. Just 4 comments on the story in the T&G and to my knowledge no one talked about this issue this morning on WCRN. As you know I have removed WTAG from my presets.

I have said this before and it bears repeating, unless someone from the CC grabs onto this issue and doesn’t let go, this story (just like the Hadley building piece) will be soon forgotten. It’s sad but unfortunately true.

Bill Randell said...

Dave Z

I can not disagree with you but I did not expect anything else.

It is going to take some time to turn this ship around. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that the ship is turning.


The Warren Commision said...

A grassy field, all I see is snow. But how about a Monday morning Grassy Knoll Conspiracy Theory.

Saturday, I decided to pull up 48 Mason on city websites, both the treasurers and the assessors; as Bill had indicated this story was coming. From all appearances on the treasursers website, 48 Mason had a deep slashing of their assessed value for the current fiscal year June,2011; such that the payments due Feb 1 and May 1 were significantly reduced. And of course they are also behind in their real estate taxes. And in keeping with non profit builders motis operandi in Worcester, WGC is still pulling building and drain laying permits.

My intent was to post here about this interesting, apparent drop in property assessment. I put off posting until this morning b/c I was going to compare 48 Mason's land value with land values in the area.

So this morning I am going to post a blog and I pull up 48 Mason St. on ASSESSORS WEBSITE and it isnt there. I try to find their other abutting parcel on Winfield St. Again not there. I look for "familiar players" names and other street addresses. I check Mason Ct. I dont see it anywhere on Assessors listings??????????

I know a guy who filed for real estate property tax abatements and he still hasnt heard from assessors office yet. Interestingly enough, WGC already has their abatement and/or reduced assessment in place?

But why isnt 48 Mason on the assessors website?

Paulie's Point of View said...

Dave Z...I never expected Mary & Joe over on the west side to bite on this...but I think the peoiple that matter most are rethinking their is going to take time changing perceptions of Woo's urban core..and what is can be not what it is...I think you will see Mayor Obie less up on a podium pushing WCG.....Worcester Common Ground is a bad property owner and developer and this is coming to light.

*May Street property a huge headache for the city
*Piedmont office and residential now proving to be a mistake-Patton tried to get side road taken off the maps cause in pretty much his own words "property he developed unsafe for occupants cause the road is so close to property
*48 Mason and other decreptit properties

Warren said...


The property is listed on assessors website, however it's under 46 48 mason St. Because it has so many "owners" names, I was looking it up by street address #48only.

My comment about the recent significant drop in assessed valuation stands.

Steve Foley said...

A valid argument against the use of reversionary clauses is that it would make financing difficult.

Developer buys parcel with reversionary clause.

Developer borrows from bank to develop.

Developer fails to complete development, and property reverts back to city.

Bank has lost collateral.

Bill Randell said...


Huh??? You can get financing still. In fact they had $1,500,000 lined up from Legacy Capital...

If the property reverted back, the morgage holder will still be in first position.


Jahn said...

I like performance bonds even more. If you dont perform by a date certain, bonding co just hands over the posted bond money. A reversionary clause would also possibly require some verbiage about severablity/non severabilty.

I couldnt help but notice what appears to be empty storefronts in Paulies Piedmont Video in front WGC's latest financial disater

Bill, what does the occupancy factor look like in that building, both comm & residential? I am curious what time of day that video was made, as I see no cars parked in front of the building, which is the only place to park.

This what happens when inexperience meets government giveaways and largess. Imagine if a certain someone had to build all these failures on his own dime? And WGC's website speaks of certain peoples experience with non profits.

So have we found out yet who' s paying for the sewerline work at Main & May Sts?

Jahn said...

Someone needs to explain to me how how a vacant piece of land that is surrounded by Manufactuirng and business zoned land has a residential assessors office classification on it?

Now if it had residences on it, I can understand a residential classification, but it is in a business/ manufacturing zone and it is buildable land with nothing on it? How does it get classified as residential and therefore beat the commercial tax rates?

Here's a great way to get your vacant business/manufacturing vacant buildable land classified as residential for property tax purposes.

a. pi++ off 1/2 of Piedmont Village.

b. let your lot become overgrown with 7 ft ragweed all summer (just grass per WGC)

c. Illegally dump 100's of yards of fill on it. (OK'ed by teh city per WGC. Note the lack of the name(s of peopel who OK'ed?

d. get cited and do littel or nothing about it.

e. Create slope in excess of 8% w/o zoning approval

f. get hauled to court over multiple nuisance violations

And then ask for residential classification, because you're a non profit.

City councilors who read this blog are encouraged to respond or in the alternate call the assessors on the carpet and lets get facts.


jahn said...

Sorry hit sent too fast.

I was checking the tea leaves this morning.

I saw in the tea leaves an "As I See IT " piece on the op ed pages soon defending Worc. Comm Grds....or something in the same general train of the roles of CDC's in Worc' housing policy