The BPDA is warning the New York real-estate firm that currently has the lease on the city-owned Faneuil Hall Marketplace - for which it apparently pays the city just $10 a year - that it's going to want the buildings back if the firm doesn't start doing more to help retail tenants hamstrung in recent months by the Covid-19 forced shutdown.
In a letter to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. today, BPDA Director Brian Golden acknowledges the company deferred rents for April and May - even if only because of public outcry and a call from Mayor Walsh, but says he's hearing discomfiting news that the company is now demanding that tenants repay those rents by December and that it is refusing to meet with the tenants to figure out how to safely re-open marketplace buildings that at peak times are jammed by tourists jostling shoulder to shoulder in search of some authentic-ish local food and stuff.
Golden's letter, addressed just to the company, not to any executive in particular, says Ashkenazy needs to give the mall's tenants more of a breather to begin making up rents, to give more than lip service, like, actual rent relief to "long-term family-owned small businesses that have long been the lifeblood of FHM" and to fill any vacancies "in a way that advances equity, inclusion, and the prioritization of locally owned minority and women owned businesses that reflect the diversity of Boston." Oh, and meet with tenants on developing a plan that does not turn the marketplace into a Covid-19 superspreader.
If ACC is unwilling or unable to make these commitments, we request that ACC meet with the BPDA to discuss returning the property to public ownership or facilitate a transfer of the property to a private owner capable of making the investments necessary at the property.
The 99-year lease was signed by the Rouse Company, the original redeveloper of the FHM, and the former Boston Redevelopment Agency in 1975 and set forth a meager rental payment of ten dollars a year to transform the old marketplace into one of the first festival marketplaces in the country. The BPDA believes that ACC and previous leaseholders have benefited greatly from this lease arrangement, and we call on ACC to come to the table with reasonable and acceptable terms for the merchants at Faneuil Hall and for the long-term management of the property.
It is our hope that after this pandemic is over, FHM can return as a cultural and civic destination for both the residents and visitors of Boston.