I attended the BRA meeting about the proposed 700 foot tower at One Congress Street tonight. It was clear at the end of the evening that the advisory group, the IAG was not in favor of the tremendous height in a district zoned for 150 feet. They also didn't feel as if there were many, if any, benefits for the North End. Everyone did speak highly of the developers trying to be responsive to questions asked, and getting back to them with information.
At the very end, I got to ask a couple of questions so I got to the bottom line: money. I asked, for the record, if the project was going to ask for any public funding, or any tax breaks, 121A or other, and the unequivocal answer was NO they would not. So at least we have that out of the way, unlike the debacle at Columbus Center.
Next I asked how much net profit would getting the zoning exemption be worth the developers. They insisted they didn't know. Here is where it gets fishy. How do you propose a 700 and 400 foot tower, pay a bunch of architects, and not figure out how much money it is all worth to you? Heck, I project how much I'm going to make on a 1 million dollar job. They did say that it would be a 2.2 billion dollar project. If you assume a 20 percent profit that would be $440 million dollars. Is it any wonder that they are trying to get a zoning exemption? Is it any wonder that developers write $500 checks to politicians?
Finally I asked if the garage they bought was currently profitable, and again they answered in the affirmative.
Mr. Raymond, the property developer came up after the meeting and introduced himself and gave me his card. I appreciated him answering questions and presenting their vision.
However, a zoning code is there for a reason and that reason is because a community has come together to decide what they think should be built in that community. The problem in this city is that we have a zoning code for sale. When I am Mayor, I will eliminate the BRA, put in a master plan for the whole city so that developers will know what they can build, and where to build it, and we can have a level playing field so that capitalism can flourish. As I explained this to some community and board members after the meeting, they couldn't agree more.