Developer tried to get around city requirement to provide affordable condos

The Dig takes a look at one South Boston condo project in which the developer sold the two "affordable" units she was required to have to herself, then sold them off at market rates. The BPDA only realized what she'd done when updating its databases, not because they were keeping track of the units. The agency says it is now going to be more careful.

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Bad that the BPDA allowed

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Bad that the BPDA allowed this to happen but the response seems pretty good once they did. An additional step would be denying this developer any new permits for some period of time as punishment.

the response is weak

The developer made more money by cheating, getting caught, and paying fine than they would have by following the agreement they made with the city. This is why the city needs to build more city owned housing. There are condemned buildings and vacant lots all over the city. They should start taking eminent domain and build low income family housing. One of the housing pressures that people are not aware of is scattered site shelters. It pays more than Section 8. If low income housing were able the place everyone on the waiting lists it would help. If even one derelict/vacant lot was taken by the city, the rest of those ridiculous owners would start building.

What does it mean to create

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What does it mean to create an affordable condo, if there's no deed restriction limiting its price or the income of who can buy it?

That's part of the problem

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"Affordable" condos are supposed to have a deed restriction relating to the income of people buying them under BPDA/ZBA approvals. That the developer didn't have one put in for the two units in question means they'll never be "affordable."

You seem to forget something

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Government is made up of the same thing that those developers are: People. One agency acted with malice. The other did not. While it's a costly mistake, holding them in the same regard is still pretty awful.

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While it's a costly mistake,

While it's a costly mistake, holding them in the same regard is still pretty awful.

But if he didn't hold them both in disdain, how could he maintain his unearned sense of moral superiority?

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Unearned?

Number of times I've committed affordable housing fraud: 0

Number of times I've used my position as an official of the state to turn the human necessity of shelter into a lottery game: 0

the damage done is equal

We pay the salaries of the people working for the BPDA. They need to take responsibility for affordable housing. Greedy developers are predictable, the BPDA needs to do their job, or resign.

The actual damage?

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Yeah, sure. Now the units are off of the affordable market and both parties are to blame. But I thought I made a pretty clear distinction that one party did that with malicious intent while the other one made a mistake. But for the actions of the greedy developer, the mistake wouldn't have occurred.

But, they seem to have made a stride toward recourse with the fine, but they should double down on policies for such an action on part of any developer in the future. I'm not about to reach for my pitchfork because someone wasn't aware that they needed to watch out for this sort of thing. But now that they do know that these sorts of workarounds were possible, they should be looking into making sure it doesn't happen in the future, or they have the appropriate means of consequence if or when it does.

The "fraud" here is the system

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that demands a certain percentage of housing units be "affordable." Either totally regulate pricing for ALL housing, or let the free market determine the pricing for ALL housing.

BPDA should also look into

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BPDA should also look into neighboring projects by the same developer over an extended period of time that are 9 units apiece in order to skirt the affordable housing laws. It's happening right now on 377 W 1st St in Southie.The negative effect is twofold: Less affordable housing AND years and years of a construction project as opposed to getting it done in a couple of years.

I have an affordable unit. I

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I have an affordable unit. I had to jump through hoops to purchase it. Which I understand because without oversight I wouldn't have even had the opportunity, and probably wouldn't be able to live in the city. It's outrageous that developers with millions of dollars get away with this, considering the scrutiny I faced as a low-income buyer, as if I might be trying to pull a fast one on the city of Boston.

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I don't think

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the developer just tried to circumvent the affordable housing rules, she succeeded! I hope there are large penalties for this type of fraud while she enjoys her profits down there in Cohasset.

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SO

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The city has no recourse for this fraud?

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Depends on what you mean by recourse

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They fined the developer (who still ended up making out, since the fine was for "half the differential between the BPDA’s determination of the affordable price for the units and their full market value[...]and adding a “penalty.”") but they can't undo the sale and force the units to become affordable.

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Should have fined the

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Should have fined the developer for the FULL cost difference, plus forced the developer to provide each purchaser with that difference as well, so that when the buyers sell, they can enforce the affordability requirements without the innocent owners losing half the value (as they're about the only innocent parties in this)

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City's Affordable Housing Stock Should Be Made Whole

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By civil suit, (plaintiff TBD), the developer should be made to remedy the loss of 2 affordable units from Boston's housing stock caused by their actions. This could be an order to recreate those 2 in another development. Or pay to have these replaced by someone else.

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In a just, but fair, world

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The next time the developer wants to build anything that needs any kind of approval, they'll have to exceed the requirements for affordability and deed specific units to the BPDA to handle.

Then again, in a just but fair world we could trust the BPDA.

Better yet

The next time the developer tries to build anything in Boston she should be told NO. And the next time ... and the next time.

Blacklisting would be effective.

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Yeah

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Because there's really a shortage of people who want to build new real estate in Boston.

You serious?

The developer owns the (theoretical) land

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And Swirly is offering the suggestion that the City not allow her to build anything on it. If you don't think that the developer might, out of spite, allow a tract to become run down, you've not followed development in Boston. Perhaps you remember the Filenes Hole, and that was involving a developer who got permits to build.

Sure

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I'm not opposed to using eminent domain in those situations, or coming up with a solution to force their hand, somehow. Not sure why we don't if we're in such a crisis. The development of a city that's in such a state shouldn't be held hostage by entities that are just looking to make money with general disregard for the community outside of that consideration.

But Walsh renamed the BRA to

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But Walsh renamed the BRA to BPDA, aren't these problems gone? I dont understand people who voted to re-elect Baker and Walsh, they both showed their incompetence yet they won easily. Is it because Boston has two conservative papers who cheer on these types? I know the Globe was liberal in the past, but its been conservative since the start of the Henry era at least, if not before.

The 3/4 million $ rename of BRA to BPDA

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This is the same non-governmental governmental organization that lost that agreement to keep an observation deck open on the Hancock Tower. This is the same group of folks who brush off neighborhood concerns. This is the same entity that Marty promised to reign in.

I can't say I'm surprised that Marty would veto landmark status for the Citgo sign (although there is irony in that it is an advertisement). Marty works for developers, people who make money off of land and property. He is paid by but does not work for the citizens of Boston.

Question is what position is he now preparing to run for as he brings the rich and powerful into his fold?

You must be new here

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The guy before did the same thing, and he was very content to stay on as mayor for as long as he wanted. The guy before the guy before him was the same way. It's odd, but Ray Flynn was probably the most ethical mayor we've had in half a century.

Curley set a low bar and

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Curley set a low bar and every mayor since has made an effort to slide as close as they can over it.

This is the problem with BRA

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They hoard funds, operate behind closed doors, have favored developers who get little oversight, or disliked ones who have to jump through so many hoops.

This department should be gone, with an actual city development department and clear policies, with income coming into city taxes, not the coffers of an unaccountable agency.