Non-profit sues supermarket on its South End land to move out by the end of July so it can put up a residential tower
The Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association says the owner of the Cmart supermarket has known since at least 2019 its lease on association land at Washington and Herald streets would not be renewed when it ends this July and yet is acting as if the lease will actually be extended.
In a suit filed last week in Suffolk Superior Court, the association asked a judge to order Cmart ower Miao Kun Fang of Weston to accept reality and vacate the premises when the lease runs out at the end of July. Although the lease has a clause allowing Cmart to extend the lease for at least five years, the association says Fang has ignored at least 14 notices it's sent him since 2019 that it was exercising another section of the lease that lets it cancel that should it seek to redevelop the land.
The association, the Davis Companies and the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church filed plans with the BPDA for a new three-building, 536-unit complex along Herald Street between Shawmut Avenue and Washington Street in 2017. A total of 26% of the units would be rented as affordable - double the city's requirement.
The BPDA approved the project in 2018 and Davis was granted a building permit in 2019 for the building that now rises behind the Cmart. The association building, approved for up to 14 floors, would have more than 300 units and would have roughly 14,000 square feet of ground-floor space for retail, commercial and community uses under the overall "planned development area" approved by the BPDA.
The association said that in November, 2021, Cmart sent certified mail saying it was exercising its right to extend the lease for five more years, to which the association said it responded by sending yet another notice that it was cancelling any extension under the redevelopment clause of the lease.
In addition to asking a judge to tell Cmart it has no right to stay on the property after July 31, the association is also seeking attorneys' fees and any other measures the judge might feel necessary to get the point across.
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as a YIMBY this is a tough one
On one hand, build baby build. On the other, when it comes with the loss of an existing business that's useful to the neighborhood, the tradeoff isn't so clear. I've seen it wind up like the former James Gate site where the retail space that got built with the new project sat vacant for years and now houses a ridiculous furniture store that doesn't even begin to address the loss to the neighborhood.
It’s quite sad that these
It’s quite sad that these established mom and pop businesses have to be kicked out by money hungry developers . It’s happening all around Boston neighborhoods , small business owners with leased out storefronts are being tossed out because owner of building wants to make a windfall . These neighborhoods were built on small businesses , what’s next Haymarket ..
you do realize that this is a nonprofit developer do you?
I’m sure they are trying to house as many people as possible, which is why they have doubled the required number of a affordable units on the proposed development. They need to have all those market rate the units to pay for the affordable ones.
I will say I don’t understand why they don’t just offer the first floor to the food market, since it’s obviously an important neighborhood resource
I've been employed and volunteered in enough non-profits that I have no delusions about non-profits somehow being ethically or morally better than for profit businesses.
They may come into existence for reasons of service. But like any human organization that develops a base of employment and patronage they are liable to become entities populated by individuals who put their personal self-interest of employment, prestige, benefits and sometimes power way ahead of the original purposes of the non-profit.
With that corporate self-centered myopia the organization winds up eliminating the kinds public benefits (e.g. a grocery store that provides food to the resident population) that are necessary to the very people the non-profit pretends to serve.
Except this non-profit is providing housing
Don’t act like a big bad corporation is coming in and wiping out this groceries store. They’re providing much needed housing and 26% affordable too! People need shelter and they need to eat. Neither is more important than the other.
What supermarkets and
What supermarkets and services are still fighting to survive in Chinatown? I see more and more elderly from Chinatown standing in line at food pantries at Church of the Covenant, Red Cross in Newmarket Square, St. Paul's and St. Anthony's DTX. What can be done to keep Chinatown alive with services that are affordable to people who are not wealthy? The new generation has become more and more selfish
You think its Gen Z buying up
You think its Gen Z buying up property and kicking out small businesses? LOL. Only old people have the money to do that. Boomers are hoarding all the money and property in this country.
Yeah, all those aforementioned boomers …
… waiting in line at the food pantries.
CMart is dead - long live CMart?
if I remember correctly, when this 'mega 3 building project' was in BRA discussions a few years ago, I thought they had agreed to have CMART back as the primary tenant on the 1st floor of this site when completed - even having some parking for CMart on site.
Didn’t the landlord get a ….
….million dollar fine last year from ISD for deplorable unsanitary conditions?
I'm a little confused on this one
Doesn't Cmart have until July to move out? How can the association start legal proceedings and seek legal fees etc when it doesn't seem like Cmart has done anything that's actually in violation of the contract yet?
The association said that in
The association said that in November, 2021, Cmart sent certified mail saying it was exercising its right to extend the lease for five more years. So no violation of contract yet, but nothing that says CMart acknowledges the five year extension assertion was not a valid request.
Sure, but do they have to?
That's the part I'm confused by. Is there some legal requirement that if someone says "hey you have to do this thing by the time you're contractually obligated to" you have to respond "ok"? I get why they'd be worried that Cmart will be difficult here, but it seems wild to me that you can start court proceedings over "I'm worried that someone might do something in violation of our terms in the future".
In the complaint, Cmart submitted a "Notice of Renewal of Lease" after the 11th notice of lease termination was sent to the owner. One might assume that by filing all of this now, it will allow for a proper termination of the lease come July 1.
That's like me sending my landlord a postcard saying I intend to buy the apartment building I'm living in. It would be weird and it might give them pause, but I don't see how it changes anything legally about my right to continue living there until my lease date is up.
I guess I'm just confused about why every landlord doesn't do something like this, especially if they can ask the court to pay for legal fees etc - isn't there an actual process you have to go through to evict someone, including first having to wait for them to actually be in violation of their contract?
Commercial Leases are different
There are typically renewal clauses in commercial leases that allows the tenant to automatically extend the lease at a previously agreed upon rate as long as they officially give notice a specified number of days in advance of lease end. However, they're often matched by a clause that lets the landlord cancel that renewal with proper notice.
So in this case, Landlord gives notice of non-renewal (multiple times) but Tenant says, lol no I'm going to renew. Landlord anticipates legal shenanigans so wants it to get settled before it starts impacting their construction schedule.
It's waaaay easier logistically to move a household than a grocery store. Landlord wants to make sure Tenant wraps up all its use of the space (selling off fixtures, etc. or moving to a new location elsewhere) before the lease ends. And if Tenant plans to move to a new location, it takes a surprising amount of time to source a lease and fit-out a new space.
This looks like a useful business for the neighborhood
Is CCBA accurately reflecting the interest of its constituency (Chinatown residents) by seeking to remove it? Can they help it relocate nearby?
Read the article again...14 notices with no respond. Btw, CCBA have 44 board of directors that represents all the family associations in Chinatown...is that sufficient representation for you?
Do they care? Is there more
Do they care? Is there more money to be made by developing?
In order, your questions then mine:
Probably not and wouldn't anyway if they could.
New Ming is right down the street
There is another, larger, Chinese grocery store a block from C-Mart, on the corner of Washington and E. Berkeley. Maybe that isn't enough to satisfy the shopping constituency, I don't really know, but it won't turn the neighborhood in to a grocery dessert.
Ming's and development
Looking at the block where Ming's is located, it seems like it's only a matter of time until it gets redeveloped. Parking for Ming's is bad and only going to get worse. The parking lot at the former service station across the street is no longer available as construction is about to begin on that parcel. The parking lot next door that Ming's uses on weekends is owned by Tufts Medical Center, and they have indicated that they want to sell (or redevelop) the lot once their Chinatown development is complete and they no longer need the lot for satellite parking.
do people living in chinatown actually drive to the grocery store that’s a block or two or three away
A lot of people from outside the neighborhood as well as outside Boston drive to both Cmart and Ming's. Both their parking lots are full, especially on weekends. Just like people driving to Whole Foods.
C-Mart is bomb. Cheap produce, and a good selection of asian food. It’s a shame the city can block restaurants from staying open after midnight, but is silent when a neighborhood grocery is being forced out by a landlord.
There used to be two Cmarts
The second, on Lincoln Street, was evicted to make way for a tower that still hasn't gone up.
Addition to the story
I've added that 26% of the total units in the three buildings would be affordable, double the city's requirement,