Saturday, November 6, 2010

NEIGHBORHOODS: Officials want price tag on project’s delay

Boston officials say they want to calculate the economic losses caused by a stalled Downtown Crossing redevelopment project as part of a review that could lead to permanent revocation of the developer’s approvals to build on the former Filene’s site.

The Boston Redevelopment Agency, the city’s primary planning arm, will seek to quantify the financial hit based on the effects the blighted construction area has had on businesses in the vicinity, a spokesman said.

Work on a proposed 39-story tower on the former Filene’s department store property was halted in summer 2008 because of funding problems, leaving a massive construction crater.

Owners of the $750 million project, a group led by Vornado Realty Trust, have since put the property up for sale, drawing interest from an array of local and national builders.

The BRA yesterday released letters submitted by neighbors and city agencies concerned about the negative effects of the long-delayed project. They included the Freedom Trail Foundation, a pedestrian advocacy group called WalkBoston, and the Old South Meeting House museum.

“The loss of activity in the area . . . has cast a pall over the vitality of the neighborhood,’’ wrote Emily Curran, the museum’s executive director. “There has been a general sense that the area of Washington Street where the construction site sits is unsafe and unpopulated.’’

Last month, the city pulled the project’s permits and said it would consider whether their permanent revocation is warranted. BRA director John Palmieri told the developers yesterday that he will decide soon.

Vornado did not respond to a request for comment.

Casey Ross Boston Globe October 29, 2010

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