Roth Said to Apologize to Menino Over Stalled Boston Site

Vornado Chairman Steven Roth, being threatened with eminent domain in Boston over his remarks on blight, apparently has apologized to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.

Mr. Roth told a Columbia audience earlier this month that he left the Bloomberg LP tower site in New York a blight for years, in part to gain public sector incentives. (“I was thinking in my own awkward way, that the more the building was a blight, the more the governments would want this to be redeveloped; the more help they would give us when the time came.”)

Given that he currently has a prominent stalled site in Boston, this apparently struck a nerve for Mr. Menino, who responded by firing off a letter that threatened the use of eminent domain to take the property.

The Boston Herald now reports that Mr. Roth met with Mr. Menino to apologize about the stalled site:

One week after Menino threatened to seize the former Filene’s property by eminent domain, Steven Roth, Vornado Realty Trust’s chairman, met with the mayor to apologize for comments he made that ignited a firestorm in the Hub.

‘Mr. Roth called to say he felt bad that the Filene’s project was stalled and that his comments were not productive,’ said Mitchell Weiss, Menino’s chief of staff. ‘He didn’t give us any indication of his next move, but said he doesn’t want to leave a hole in the ground. He was going to try to figure out what they could do and get back to us as soon as possible. He understands the frustration in Boston.’

Of course, if Boston is anything like New York development, the use of eminent domain to speed development would seem quite the extreme choice given that the public sector inevitably takes years to auction off any large site it owns, as any plan gets caught in a web of politics and bureaucracy.

ebrown@observer.com