The Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board last week ordered the city of Boston to pay back some $2.4 million in property taxes levied against the company that leases parts of South Station for retail and office use, because state law forbids property tax assessments on any MBTA property, even if it's used for commercial concerns.
The payments cover taxes the company paid in 2009 and 2010.
In its ruling, the tax board said the state law in question is unambiguous: No taxes on MBTA property, period, no matter the use. The board noted the state legislature rejected requests from Mayor Tom Menino to allow taxes on T property used primarily for commercial purposes.
It may look like a park and have people walk in it like it's a park, but the far end of Long Wharf isn't a park, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled today.
The ruling is a victory for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which wants to turn an open-air kiosk-like structure there into a restaurant.
A group of ten North End residents has fought the idea for years - and won a victory in Suffolk Superior Court, when a judge ruled that end of Long Wharf was a park on which a restaurant could not be built without a two-thirds vote of the state legislature, under a section of the state constitution that pertains to the preservation of parkland and open space.
But the state's highest court ruled today that intent is everything, and that the BRA took over the wharf in 1970 under its authority to revitalize the area and promote real-estate development - as part of an urban-renewal plan dating to 1964 - rather than to put a park in. Therefore, the court concluded, the area is not subject to the constitutional restriction, known as Article 97:
The Boston Redevelopment Authority tonight gave preliminary approval to architect Sebastian Mariscal's 44-unit apartment building at North Beacon and Everett streets in Allston. Mariscal originally proposed only six parking spaces - all for Zipcar or equivalent rentals - and to only rent to people who agreed not to own cars. But he agreed to put in 35 spaces after nearby residents said they didn't think Mariscal could keep tenants from buying cars and then parking them on the streets of the neighborhood.
Banker & Tradesman reports.
A roving UHub photographer forwards this picture, taken around 4:40 p.m. yesterday, of the handicap parking spaces outside 12 Channel St., an Innovation District building owned by the BRA and EDIC.
They haven't plowed their handicap spaces since the blizzard.
Remarkable project, the Urban Ring. The Mission Hill Gazette reports on a quiet little meeting at BRA headquarters to kick off planning for a study on linking the Blue and Silver lines as part of the Urban Ring - the crosstown
subway bus line the state nailed to its perch in 2009.
"The project is dormant," Read explained. "Like trees, it'll come back to life when the season is right."
The Globe reports on plans for the old John Hancock hotel and conference center.
With one major residential project already in the works, the BRA has started work on a South Huntington Avenue Corridor Study. The first part, figuring out what the study will cover, should be out within a few weeks, the BRA says:
The objective is to define the collective vision and physical character of this corridor for the foreseeable future that will clarify the city’s expectations for future development. The Study’s general boundaries will extend along South Huntington Avenue from its intersection with Perkins Street to the south and Route 9/Huntington Avenue to the north. The Study will explore issues that include height, density, housing mix and affordability, open space, historic preservation, parking, and transportation.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority today approved the proposed Millennium Tower and Burnham Building project, which will feature a residential tower on Washington Street and a retail and office complex focused on what's left of the old Filene's building.
The project, led by the group that built the Ritz Carlton a few blocks down Washington Street, would include some 600 units of luxury apartments and a 550-space parking garage.
The Herald reports four development groups have submitted proposals for a city lot next to the waterfront restaurant complex, ranging from more restaurants to a boutique hotel to a "floating event space."
Adam Castiglioni reports on a BRA vote tonight to allow a 19-story hotel with 240 "micro guest rooms" at Stuart and Tremont.
The BRA is hiring an Innovation District manager, the description for which sounds like the description for the people who run the city's Main Street programs in older 'hoods, only more innovationier - the successful candidate will attempt to recruit high-tech and biotech companies, instead of hardware stores and restaurants.
The Globe reports the BRA wants to give State Street an $11.5-million tax break to move into the Innovation District (so there must be innovative new ways to service the financial needs of the bank's rich clients, no?). It would be spread out over several years, the city would make a boatload of taxes on the building and, besides, the CEO made $16 million in salary and other compensation last year.
Emmanuel College got a green light from the city this week to finish plans for a 17-story dorm on Brookline Avenue and to lease part of its campus to Brigham and Women's for a new research building on Avenue Louis Pasteur.
In a vote earlier this week, the BRA approved the college's "institutional master plan," which calls for replacing the existing four-story Julie Hall with a high rise that will include dorm rooms for 720 students (500 more than the current building) as well as classroom and dining space. The college also wants to build an underground garage, which will allow for the replacement of current parking-lot spaces with landscaping.
The specific building project still needs to go through the BRA's public-hearing process, as does another proposal to add five stories to the college library.
The college also plans to lease part of its campus along Avenue Louis Pasteur to Brigham and Women's, which plans to use the land to build a 360,000-square foot research facility sometime over the next six to eight years. In 2000, the college leased another parcel on the street to Merck.
The Boston Business Journal details the company's filing with the BRA for its $235-million project.
The Herald reports on last night's BRA meeting on a developer's plan to build a tower with 318 condos and new retail space above the existing Neiman Marcus.
The Boston Zoning Commission this morning unanimously approved a zoning change to turn two vacant city-owned lots in Dorchester into urban farms.
The commission approved a BRA "urban agriculture overlay district" for lots on Glenway and Tucker streets.
City and state officials gather Monday morning to announce financial help for a planned development that would restore housing to a block demolished for a support structure for I-93 nearly five decades agao.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority reports it's received four proposals for two vacant parcels near Dudley Square, including a $125-million project that would include 144 apartments as well as commercial and retail space.
The BRA says its staff will review the four proposals, then hold public meetings to discuss them. No dates were announced.
The Jamaica Plain Gazette gives huzzahs to the BRA for its maps based on the 2010 census, which, among other things, show District E-13 as actually being in JP and Mission Church as actually not being in JP.
The Columbus Avenue facility is part of the Jackson Commons project, which also calls for 438 new housing units - 291 designated as "affordable" - and community facilities, along with new retail and office space on 11.2 acres along Columbus Avenue.
NorthEndWaterfront.com reports a Suffolk Superior Court judge has overturned the state's permit for turning the shelter at the end of Long Wharf into a seafood restaurant.
The state Department of Environmental Protection, which has oversight because of the location on the waterfront, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which owns the shelter, want to lease it to restaurant operator Michael Conlon. A group of ten North End residents, however, sued. The next step for DEP and the BRA would be an appeal to the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Given how long appeals can take, Conlon might also have to convince the Boston Licensing Board they should continue to let him hold onto a liquor license he isn't actually using.
The city, which actually owns Faneuil Hall Marketplace, has blocked plans by its current bankrupt manager to sell management rights to a New York firm, the Herald reports. The BRA claims it wants information on how the new operator would actually manage the marketplace and bring back the local stores that once filled it, but that the company refuses to dish.
Negotiations have not gone well: