Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why is nothing happening over the Turnpike? Blame the Mayor and politics

Ned Flaherty reports that the truth finally has come out about why nothing is happening over the Turnpike at Mass Avenue near Fenway. So, when questioning why development isn't moving forward in this city, and why construction jobs aren't being filled, the Mayor can look himself in the mirror and say: "I'm holding things up for political reasons." There are 4 developers (Weiner, Chioforo, Trinity, Carpenter)who are interested in developing there and the Mayor won't appoint a CAC so that the development process may proceed. A crystal ball would say that as soon as this election is over in November, the Mayor and the BRA will get back to their backroom deals if he beats me.

Hello, Kevin.

It was Mayor Menino’s development staff that ordered the suspension of work on proposals for Turnpike Air Rights Parcels 12-13-14-15.

The news came during this morning’s monthly meeting of the Metropolitan Highway System Advisory Board. EOT Deputy Secretary for Real Estate & Economic Development Peter O’Connor (617-973-7339, Peter.O’ said that the mystery was resolved when he and MTA Deputy Director for Real Estate William Tuttle (office: 617-248-2826; facsimile: 617-523-0729; met last month with BRA Community Planning Deputy Director Randi Lathrop (617-918-4302;

The ball has been in the BRA’s court, waiting for Mayor Menino to appoint a Citizens Advisory Committee, ever since the proposals were received over 6 months ago on 5 December 2008. But for the last half year, BRA officials, who are appointed and removed by Menino, intentionally took no action.

O’Connor, a former BRA-EDIC attorney who says he is close friends with BRA Chief Planner Kairos Shen (617-918-4471,, said not only is the next step up to the mayor’s development staff, but it now appears that BRA officials would be satisfied if nothing ever occurs on these 4 parcels.

There are 3 likely explanations for the Mayor’s freeze, which resulted in withholding the written proposals, appointing no Citizens Advisory Committee, and holding no public meetings.

1. It’s possible that the Mayor views development of these sites as unimportant.

2. It’s also possible that behind-the-scenes negotiations are underway.

3. But the most likely reason is that the mayor was burned by controversy during prior air rights reviews (Boylston Square, 1998 - 2001; Columbus Center, 1996 - present), and wants to delay all chance of public outcry until after the election.

On 19 May, BRA Project Manager Jonathan Greeley (617-918-4486, said that his organization had indefinitely suspended all public processes for Parcels 12-13-14-15 because of reorganizations at the Turnpike Authority.

Ned Flaherty

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