Friday, January 13, 2012

Stop Simon Properties Group & Neiman Marcus' "Jim Crow" Skyscraper Reconstruction Project at Copley Place in Boston's Back Bay: Part 9

Regarding the BRA's undemocratic decision to approve Simon Properties Group/Copley Place Associates' planned reconstruction of Copley Place--in order to reduce the percentage of low-income residential units in the HUD Urban Development Action Grant [UDAG]-funded Copley Place project to less than 16%-- the following facts should be considered in 2012:

1. As the Boston Globe reported on Dec. 23, 1978, former Massachusetts Gov. Dukakis and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority signed a long-term lease on Dec. 22, 1978 with Urban and Investment Development Co. [UIDC]--a subsidiary of Aetna Life Insurance and Casualty Co.--in which it was agreed that the Copley Place project would just include "a 150 unit low and moderate income housing development" during the 99 year period in which the lease remained in effect.

2. On Jan. 31, 1980, former Massachusetts Gov. King and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority signed an "Amended and Restated Lease" with UIDC which states on pages 14 to 15 of its attached Schedule C: "Housing: The housing which Tenant will construct will include at least 100 units of mixed income housing. A minimum of 25% of the units must be available for rent at all times to persons and families of low income."

3. On Apr. 30, 1980, Mayor Kevin White submitted on behalf of the City of Boston a "Copley Place Urban Development Action Grant [UDAG] Application To The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development" which stated the following:

"The 1978 EIR did not include an economic impact analysis for Copley Place...In the final months of the year, UIDC, the Turnpike Authority and the Office of State Planning worked to incorporate many community recommendations into a final air rights lease which would permit development on the site. The 40-year Lease Agreement, renewable to 99 years, was signed in the end of December, and included these additional community benefits:...2. Provision for a minimum of 100 units of housing with at least 25% for low income households..."

4. On the "UDAG Form 8: Provision of Housing" document which the City of Boston submitted to HUD in 1980 it states that 25% of the units to be constructed on the Copley Place project site are to be "low and moderate" and "Distribution of units determined by Lease Agreement between UIDC and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority."

5. In their Aug. 11, 1980 "Response By The City of Boston To An Administrative Complaint Submitted By Greater Boston Legal Services To HUD Concerning The Copley Place Urban Development Action Grant," City of Boston attorneys stated:

"From the CRC review process has come significant design change and affirmative action commitments. These include the following, many of which have been incorporated into the final air-rights lease between UIDC and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority...3. Provision for a minimum of 100 units of housing, with at least 25% for low-income households.

"With regard to the housing to be constructed as part of Copley Place, there is little question that it will further fair housing goals...For the record it should be noted that there will be at least 100 units with 25% designated for low-income households. This provision was incorporated into the Air Rights Lease through the efforts of the Citizen's Review Committee. In conformance with Federal guidelines, the developer will submit an Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan. The Mayor's Office of Fair Housing will provide technical assistance to the developer in designing and implementing the Affirmative Fair Housing Marketing Plan...

"...The complainant fails to acknowledge the significant benefits to low-and moderate-income persons and minorities which were negotiated through the CRC process as well as those incoporated by the City into the UDAG application. These are mentioned in at least three separate locations in the application.

"In addition to the permanent and construction jobs agreement cited in Part V, the Copley Place project has provisions for a minimum of 100 units with 25% reserved for low income households..."

6. The Aug. 31, 1982 sub-lease between UIDC and UIDC of Massachusetts states the following in Section 6:12 on page 17: "Regulations: Affirmative Action. Urban Investment and Development Co. supports the Affirmative Action and Resident Preferences set forth in Attachment C of Boston's Urban Development Action Grant Application for Copley Place..."

7. Section 11.6 of the January 31, 1980 "Amended and Restated Lease" with UIDC of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority indicates on page 39 that any reconstruction of the Copley Place project is "subject" to "the use restrictions of Section 6:12" regarding affirmative action in the allocation of both Copley Place project jobs and Copley Place project residential housing units.

8. In his Nov. 15, 2011 memorandum to William Tuttle, Deputy Director and Robin Blatt-Eisengat of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Office of Real Estate and Asset Development, Andrew Royce of Sherin and Lodgen LLP notes that "after the first 15 years, Tenant may" only "construct additional improvements subject to...non-discrimination and affirmative action requirements;" and that "Schedule C, entitled HOUSING, states, in part `The housing which Tenant will construct will include at least 100 units of mixed income housing' and `A minimum of 25% of the units must be available for rent at all times to persons and families of low-income.'

Given these facts, Simon Properties/Copley Place Associates would appear to be violating the affirmative action use restrictions of the 99-year lease between the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and the Copley Place project developer, as well as the community benefit terms and community benefit intentions of the City of Boston's Urban Development Action Grant application, if its reconstruction of Copley Place decreases the percentage of Copley Place project low-income residential units below 16% between 2012 and 2077.

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