Boston Mayor Thomas Menino does not seem to be happy with Steve Roth.
In a letter dated Monday, Mr. Menino wrote to the Vornado Realty Trust chairman, threatening the use of eminent domain to seize the company’s Boston property and expressing outrage over remarks Mr. Roth made about blight and development last week during a talk at Columbia. During the talk, Mr. Roth suggested he intentionally left Manhattan’s Bloomberg LP tower site vacant to attract subsidies. We reported on the remarks at the time, and then the Wall Street Journal‘s Developments blog had a piece questioning whether Mr. Roth is employing the same tactic at a prominent site in Boston.
From the letter:
The quotes attributed to you on this subject are simply outrageous. Admitting that you embraced a deliberate policy of long-term blight, at a major commercial location in New York City, exhibits a callous disregard for the well-being of the city and its people.
The notion that you would purposefully cause this to occur-not due to financing difficulties or other problems beyond your control, but as an intentional cynical ploy to extract concessions from the public sector-is inexcusable”
Mr. Menino’s issue is with the site of a former Filene’s department store in Boston. It has sat vacant since Vornado began demolition on the site in early 2008. But in fairness to Mr. Roth, no one is building commercial buildings anywhere, as financing is non-existent (and an earlier tenant that had initially committed to the site apparently backed out in 2009).
Nonetheless, Mr. Menino said he would explore property seizure.
“I am directing the Boston Redevelopment Authority to examine eminent domain options,” he wrote.