Blackstone Market – Cresset / DeNormandie Mixed-Use Concept (50 rental apts, 3 restaurants, green roof & 1st fl. mkt.)

The Haymarket Pushcart Association has responded to a request from MassDOT regarding the pending designation for the Parcel 9 development along the Greenway. The HPA has come out strongly in support of the Cresset / DeNormandie’s Blackstone Market proposal and against Normandy Partners’ Haymarket Square Hotel.

December 23, 2012

Roy Avellaneda, Real Estate Project Manager
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Office of Real Estate Development
Ten Park Plaza, Suite 4160
Boston, MA 02116

RE:  YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 19

Dear Mr. Avellaneda:

This is in response to your letter of December 19 seeking clarification of a statement made over six months ago in my letter of June 2.  Let me begin by stating that I am incredibly frustrated and perturbed to be receiving a letter of this nature at this point in the selection process.

The indisputable facts are that EVERY member of YOUR Advisory Committee, EVERY public official, EVERY community group, EVERY public agency, and EVERY media outlet that has expressed a viewpoint – as well as the Haymarket Pushcart Association (HPA) – have UNANIMOUSLY opined that the proposal put forward by the Blackstone Group is the better of the two projects being considered by DOT for designation.

Professor George Thrush, Director of the Northeastern University School of Architecture and member of the Advisory Committee in his November 30 letter writes:

“…I want to make it clear that from my perspective, and from the perspective of good urban design,, I think that one is vastly superior to the other … the Blackstone Market proposal is … better programmatically, urbanistically, logistically and architecturally.”

Claudio Kraus, Ph.D., of the Faneuil Hall Merchant Association and member of the Advisory Committee in his December 6 letter writes:

“I am writing this letter to express my strong support for the Blackstone Market proposal…

From the very beginning of this lengthy process the Advisory Committee was told … that “getting it right” was preeminently more important than financial considerations…  The Blackstone Market proposal is a better choice to achieve a “Market District” than the Normandy Hotel.  It is a natural solution.  It fits. The Hotel solution on the other hand … does not have in my view, the same natural fit… In summary… the Blackstone Market proposal is in my view superior, and should be the one selected.”

Robert O’Brien, Executive Director of the Downtown North Association and member of the Advisory Committee in his November 28 letter writes:

…we believe that the Cresset/DeNormandie mixed-use …proposal is far preferable to the hotel development proposal submitted by Normandy Partners.  … we hope and expect that the financial aspects of these final two proposals will not prove to be the primary consideration involved in final developer selection.  Just such an assurance was explicitly provided to us by Peter O’Connor of MassDOT at the outset of the … public process.” 

Otto Gallotto, President of the Haymarket Pushcart Association and member of the Advisory Committee in his November 15 letter writes:

The text of Addendum 2 implies that a hotel complex could be an acceptable use of the site.  In the eyes of the HPA this is just not possible… only the Blackstone Market LLC proposal achieves the desired objective of an expansion of the “Market District”.  The hotel proposal does not – and cannot – do so.  The drawbacks in the hotel proposal emanate from its use and scale and are not such as to be correctable.”

Frederick A. (Tad) Stahl of the Beacon Hill Civic Association and member of the Advisory Committee in his December 4 letter writes:

At our Parcel 7 and Parcel 9 Advisory Committee meeting last Tuesday you informed us that the developer of Parcel 9 will be designated based solely on financial considerations since DOT had determined that in all other material respects the two finalist proposals were equivalent and, presumably, equally acceptable.  I differ vigorously, convinced that the merits of the Blackstone Market proposal far outweigh those of the Normandy proposal.  The planning and design attributes of the Blackstone Market proposal best exemplify a thorough and thoughtful          response to the                   priorities developed within the Committee and with our numerous community representatives throughout the long process of public discussion.     …Overall, I feel  that the Blackstone proposal exceeds my       original expectations of                 what might be achieved on this                  site for the purposes we have established.  The architecture which we create here will be a prominent part of a very key urban district for generations to come.              I find the concept of equating the dramatically dissimilar characteristics of these two proposals illogical and essentially indefensible, and urge you and the other participants in the final            selection to support the Committee in recognizing the values upon which the entire enterprise has been based.”         

Kairos Shen, Chief Planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority in his June 28 letter writes:

The Blackstone Market proposal is …the most viable addition to the Market District.

Walter C. Upton, a former competitor for designation writes on November 13:

“The Cresset/DeNormandie proposal is more consistent in program and scale with the objectives and proposed historic authenticity of a new Market District as proposed by the BRA…”

City Councilor Sal LaMattina in his June 1 letter writes:

“After careful study and much deliberation, it is my opinion that Blackstone Market represents the best proposal, for the neighborhood and the city at large… I wholeheartedly recommend the Blackstone Market proposal for Parcel 9.”

State Representative Aaron Michlewitz in his June 25 letter writes:

“… as the State Representative for the area…After careful review, I would like to express strong recommendation that the designation for Parcel 9 be granted to Blackstone Market.”

Paul McMorrow of the Boston Globe in an op-ed piece on December 18 writes:

MassDOT’s community advisory committee has lined up forcefully behind the market because it would significantly deepen the agricultural activity at the Boston Public Market… and at the Haymarket. It also doesn’t loom over the Greenway the way the hotel proposal would. There’s little evidence the surrounding community backs the hotel over the Blackstone market proposal, so if the state goes with the hotel bid, it will be because of the money. In a recent letter to MassDOT, the advisory committee recounted a November meeting at which a DOT executive “suggested that community considerations would have virtually no role,” because “financial considerations would be the decisive criterion in the final analysis.”  MassDOT now says it’s weighing both financial and community concerns, but the agency has not publicly rebutted the advisory committee’s letter, which the agency received two weeks ago. If both projects are financially viable, the community’s preference should win out. That’s because the history of the Big Dig, and of the Greenway development parcels, is one of elevating shared civic purpose. There isn’t one Central Artery parcel that has been sold to the highest bidder, no strings attached.”   

Marie Matarese of the Post- Gazette in a front page column on December 7 writes:

“DOT appears to be determined to turn a deaf ear to the view of all of these groups, individuals and public officials that the two proposals are NOT EQUAL…. and that the better proposal is the one that is NOT THE HOTEL! … why does DOT staff continue to pretend otherwise?”

Returning now to my letter of June 2, it identifies five reasons for the HPA’s strong preference for the Blackstone Market proposal: 

(1)  “We feel very strongly that the proposal … exerts the least “gentrification” pressure on the Haymarket…”

(2)  “…the Blackstone proposal does a much better job of creating an expanded and integrated Market District…”

(3)  “The Blackstone proposal is also superior in terms of new commitments its developers have made respecting the HPA’s ability to contain growth in trash collection and removal expenses.”

(4)  “The Blackstone project is also, by far, the smallest and most human of the proposals in scale.”

(5)  “All of the members of the Advisory Committee with architectural backgrounds have been effusive in their praise of the project’s architecture and urban design elements.  

In my letter of November 15 I point out that the UNANIMOUS view of the community, the City of Boston, the BRA, all of the local public officials and the HPA that – “only the Blackstone Market LLC proposal achieves the desired objective of an expansion of the Market District.”  

And in that letter I AGAIN re-iterated as emphatically as I know how that – based on our real-life knowledge and experience – trying to run our operations at the base of a hotel full of patrons (who don’t, by the way, buy produce) towering over the entire length of Blackstone Street will create enduring, unending and intractable conflicts and tensions that create problems for the Haymarket.  Need I recite the litany of problems that proximity of only the small end of a hotel on North Street creates?  How many different ways can I state that from the perspective of the HPA and its operations and the future viability of those operations – a hotel complex is NOT AN ACCEPTABLE USE OF THE SITE!  

Now, in your December 19 letter you state that – “Frankly, we are unable to discern between the two that, indeed, the Blackstone Market, LLC is a superior offer when it comes to the Haymarket.”

Is it your intention to substitute your judgment for those of the people who operate the Haymarket on the question of which proposal is better for the Haymarket?  Is it your intention to substitute your judgment for the UNANIMOUS view of the community, the City of Boston, the BRA, the local elected public officials, the HPA and the members of your own Advisory Committee that the Blackstone Market LLC proposal is the better of the two projects and the only one that achieves the desired objective of an expansion of the Market District?  Are there still lingering doubts in your mind as to which is the superior proposal?

Finally, are you or are you not going to– as so eloquently stated by Advisory Committee member Tad Stahl, FAIA, of the Beacon Hill Civic Association…” support the Committee in recognizing the values upon which the entire enterprise has been based.”?       

Sincerely,

Otto Gallotto, President
Haymarket Pushcart Association

P.S.  Despite my distaste to do so I find myself compelled to confront the innuendo in your letter that the HPA’s preference for the Blackstone proposal is somehow being bought.  Let me make it plain that all four proponents offered one form or another of benefits to the operation of the Haymarket.  Our support for the Blackstone proposal is based upon our strong belief that its proposal is much more compatible with the future viability of the Haymarket and its operations than the alternative of a massive hotel complex.  Although the Blackstone group – like the others – has put forth a variety of ideas to improve and/or protect the future viability of the market , I can assure you that none of them involve the type of direct payment to the HPA proposed by at least one other project proponent.

Cc:

Governor Deval Patrick
Secretary Richard A. Davey
William Tuttle, Director MassDOT Office of Real Estate Development

Several previous comment letters can be found in a post here. All related posts are available at the tag, Parcel 9.

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