By James J. Adams (not verified) | Tue, 08/25/2009 - 12:26am
I guess Mayor Menino prefers that his coronation precede his victory. As an appointed mayor, Menino was never really elected. It takes the Vatican to get a mayor out of Boston's city hall. The mayor's self coronation, spread all over the front pages of the city's newspapers Sunday and fed to you on a silver palate in his silly driving around Boston video ( http://multimedia.boston.com/m/25995125/mayor-menino-s-development-tour-of-boston.htm) is an embarrassment.
Coronation does seem an apt word, since the Mayor's most noteworthy contribution to the office building in Boston is his self-proclaimed ability to pick the right little crown. Thank God he wasn't around when the Seagram Building was built. I wonder what he would have put on top of the Hancock--a really big pen and ink stand. Maybe a big post office box on the top of the McCormack Building. But this Mayor doesn't only pick building tops. He actually calls from his cell phone to change zoning codes as he sees fit. The law-bah humbug. Let them eat cake --but make sure they eat it on a porch that passes his front porch architectural thesis, yet published, but also self-proclaimed.
I have been involved in commercial real estate in Boston for 28 years. I have no need to hide or to blend into the faux business scenery when everyone around me knows it stinks but has no choice but to go along. Fortunately, I have not been a developer and have thus not had to please the whims of an individual rather than of a citizenry. If the Mayor has invited us to come and praise his Caesar, let's start with doing away with the statistical nonsense his office issues.
The Mayor boasts that there has been more square footage of commercial development PER SQUARE MILE than any of the top ten most populous cities in the country. The problem is that Boston, at a whopping 48.4 square miles, is less than 1/4 the size of the 10th most populous city--San Jose. In fact, Boston does not make the top 150 in area. Boston could comfortably fit inside of the 469 square miles of Los Angeles nearly 10 times over. The truth is that, of the top 10 most populous cities in the US, only Philadelphia has added less new construction since 1996. STRIKE ONE ON THE FACTS.
During Mayor Menino's tenure, 15.3 million square feet of office space has been built in Boston. Not bad for a 16-year reign which has no sight in end. During Ray Flynn's 9-year tenure, 36 million was added. Yes, Mayor Flynn in 7 years more than doubled the amount seen in the Menino era. Considering that the inventory during Mayor Flynn's tenure lacked the 15 million added during Menino's days, the percentage growth on a yearly basis under Mayor Flynn averaged roughly 8% per year. Menino has averaged 1.3%. Need we even mention Mayor White who, during 16 years, saw the construction of 24.3 million square feet? Again, looking at Boston before Mayor White, the percentage growth of the City was exponentially larger than our current Mayor's at nearly 9% per year. And this was in an era where the Mayor sought out developers and companies to come to Boston, not when developers sporting clever crowns lined up for the "privilege" to build in Boston. STRIKE TWO ON THE LEGACY COUNT.
And what specifically has the Mayor, other than crowns, added to the skyline? In the entire 16-year tenure of Mayor Menino, a whopping 6 new buildings over 500,000 square feet have been built. I believe I am being quite generous in setting 500,000 square feet as the cutoff for consideration as a "tower." The national standard would be at least one million, of which there has been a grand total of one, the new headquarters of State Street Global at One Lincoln Street.
Six new "towers." And of the six, three of them fell under the approval process of Massport--Fidelity's two office buildings on the Seaport and Manulife's new headquarters on Congress Street in the Seaport. The state, with Massport as its agent, does not require approval from the City. The Mayor doesn't talk about those buildings in case you ever noticed. That leaves us with three. The Mayor speaks frequently of 111 Huntington Avenue, that of the famous hat. And I would agree that some people know of the building. Quick, name the other two skyline changing gems. Answers at the bottom. STRIKE THREE ON SKYLINE IMPACT.
The only thing less impressive of a Mayor who brags about his singular ability to stall projects "in my City", i.e. those of Mr. Chiofaro, is a Mayor who, one day on a whim declares that a 150-story tower will be built in Boston as if the Development Fairy was planning a visit. How many years ago did that triumphant horn sound--3,4? Perhaps that will be the tower built when it's 80 degrees in January.
Mayors do not build. They allow others to build. Buildings do not create jobs. The companies that choose to occupy them do. Mayor Menino has followed the over worn path of his predecessors not only in Boston but in almost every major city. They need the tower and they need the power. The problem is that our Mayor Menino has struck out in doing so, no matter which way you count it, obscure it, or spout on about it while riding around town.
It is time for an end to the BRA which provides the legal cover for not only Mayor Menino but for any mayor to pretend there is a legitimate review process in Boston. It is time that a developer playing by the written rules deserves fair treatment under them. It is time for Mayor Menino to take the crown off his head, because there was really never one there anyway.
Answers: 10 St. James Avenue and 33 Arch Street.