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Old 05-28-2006, 09:20 AM   #21
castevens
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in ugliness?
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Old 05-28-2006, 01:21 PM   #22
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I have a question, how can a 475ft tower rival the Prudential?
He doesn't mean it will rival the Pru in height, but in amount of space and square footage that the complex will have.
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Old 05-28-2006, 01:51 PM   #23
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Remember that 111 Huntington is only 554 feet and I think you could make an argument that it's one of the best buildings in Boston.

Sometimes I think we focus too much on height, if it's 475' and looks as good as 111 Huntington, I'll be more than happy.
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Old 05-28-2006, 07:10 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by BostonSkyGuy
Remember that 111 Huntington is only 554 feet and I think you could make an argument that it's one of the best buildings in Boston.

Sometimes I think we focus too much on height, if it's 475' and looks as good as 111 Huntington, I'll be more than happy.
I don't think any of us really focus on the height. It's just that the word rival has been exaggerated too much since there are many towers in Boston that is taller than 475 feet.
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Old 05-30-2006, 09:07 PM   #25
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I'm not sure this would really cause problems for the likes of Vivian Li, as their main interest is ensuring public access to the waterfront. This project should not infringe on any of the existing walkways there.
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Old 05-30-2006, 09:13 PM   #26
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Oh don't worry, as long as it's within 5 miles of any body of water our friend Vivian will have something to say about it :roll:
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Old 05-31-2006, 01:36 AM   #27
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There is plenty of parking at the Boston Harbor Hotel Garage. But that might be a long walk for HT residents. Maybe they could set up a Valet.
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Old 05-31-2006, 05:15 AM   #28
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I don't see how parking is an issue, given that the proposed project includes an underground garage.
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Old 05-31-2006, 05:16 AM   #29
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During construction... Neighborhood crybabies don't take much to provoke.

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Old 06-21-2006, 01:28 PM   #30
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No new info per se, but some interesting behind the scenes stuff to keep in the back of your mind for when/if this project starts getting ramped up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Globe
How not to win friends

By Steve Bailey, Globe Columnist | June 21, 2006

Don Chiofaro, once a star linebacker and captain of the Harvard football team, is a scrapper, a man who likes contact.

The developer of International Place fought and won a long court battle with his former lender, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, and won another court battle with his former equity partner, Hillman Properties. When he lost the rights to build what became the successful One Lincoln Street tower downtown, he sued and lost to a group of minority investors who were his partners. Most recently he went to war against giant Tishman Speyer Properties -- ``a gang of pirates," he called them -- who tried unsuccessfully to dislodge him from atop International Place.

Now Chiofaro is doing battle again, this time against the City of Boston. His goal: to slash International Place's property tax bill by $3.75 million, or 21 percent. And, by the way, Chiofaro is hoping the mayor will back his new plan for a huge mixed-use project just across the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway from International Place. Good luck, pal.

Testimony is to resume this week at the state's appellate tax board into Chiofaro's appeal of the $17.6 million tax bill last year for International Place's twin towers. Chiofaro's abatement request has drawn a strong response from the city, which notes that International Place's tax bill has declined 5.2 percent in five years while single-family taxpayers have seen their property tax bills soar 38.4 percent.

The arguments are arcane in a way that only a tax lawyer could love. But at base the city accuses Chiofaro of trying to game the system by valuing International Place much higher when it suited his purposes in his bitter battle with Tishman Speyer in bankruptcy court and much lower only months earlier when it suited his purposes for taxes. Chiofaro says the differing approaches are entirely appropriate.

In its fight with Tishman, the Chiofaro Co. filed for bankruptcy and brought in a new partner, Prudential Real Estate Investors, which recapitalized the property at $734 million, or $200 million more than the fiscal year '05 assessment from a year earlier, the city says. Three independent appraisals were done within a year, ranging from a high of $715 million to a low of $600 million by Cushman & Wakefield. Cushman, however, put a $424 million value on International Place in a separate appraisal for tax purposes.

``This is $176 million, or 30 percent, less than the value they told the bankruptcy court for a valuation just four months later," city assessor Ronald Rakow says.

Chiofaro's longtime partner, Ted Oatis, says this is the first time International Place has challenged its assessment, and had an obligation to do so on behalf of its tenants. Oatis offered several examples where the city had set the assessment far below the sales price of particular buildings. Such differing valuations are common, he said. ``There is clearly a difference of opinion, and that is why we are going through this process," Oatis said.

Rakow said Chiofaro was ``taking these differences to the extreme to hide from the strong investment demand for office towers . . . When you cut through all the smoke, the basic fact is that the assessment and underlying taxes for Mr. Chiofaro's building have actually declined during a period when office properties have sold at record prices. With this as a context, and given the $734 million recapitalization of his property, and the $600 million plus valuations presented to the bankruptcy court, does he really believe he's been over-assessed?" The city says the building's worth $539 million.

Every taxpayer, big and small, has a right to challenge his tax bill. But our mayor is a man who keeps score, and no project in this city goes anywhere without his support. Tom Menino doesn't much like Don Chiofaro anyway. Chiofaro's battle to pay less taxes at a time when homeowners are paying more won't help.

Steve Bailey is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at bailey@globe.com or at 617-929-2902.
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Old 06-21-2006, 03:23 PM   #31
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I definately like this new tower idea, and I thought I liked Chiofaro for thinking/acting big in Boston, but, assuming it is this simple, his manipulating his propoerty's value in order to dodge taxes on it is really inexcusable and if I was Menino or whoever, I'd find someone else for the new tower unless Chiofaro makes up what he owes, and I certainly wouldn't let the taxes on International Place go any lower. If this property's too expensive for him, there's probably someone else who would gladly take it off his hands.
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Old 06-21-2006, 03:29 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by quadratdackel
I definately like this new tower idea, and I thought I liked Chiofaro for thinking/acting big in Boston, but, assuming it is this simple, his manipulating his propoerty's value in order to dodge taxes on it is really inexcusable and if I was Menino or whoever, I'd find someone else for the new tower unless Chiofaro makes up what he owes, and I certainly wouldn't let the taxes on International Place go any lower. If this property's too expensive for him, there's probably someone else who would gladly take it off his hands.
Exactly. So you allow him to build this new tower, and in 10 years the property value is deemed "excessive" by him again and you're in the same situation. The city has enough problems, it doesn't need Chiofaro suing it every few years because he doesn't think he should have to pay taxes in accordance to his buildings worth.

This whole thing just doesn't make sense to me. You're a prominant developer in a city, one of a handful of people who seems to do a good job getting things done and you decide to go after the city because you don't think you should have to pay taxes on your property? So what's he saying, his building isn't worth what they say it is? Wouldn't it be worth it to pay the 3 or 4 million more in taxes every year and then say in 10 years the building is going to be worth AT LEAST 50 million more? Look at the price of buildings these days, construction costs are skyrocketing. The whole thing is absurd. I'm shocked he chose this path and if I were the city, I'd be trying to stick it to him in every way.
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Old 06-21-2006, 03:41 PM   #33
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Chiofaro also got into a big fight with Fred Salvucci and the Big Dig, years ago, about the placement of International Place Phase 2 and the relocation of an off-ramp.
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:28 AM   #34
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It's irrelevant whether or not Chiaforo is requesting an abatement on his property. These are two separate issues all together. Menino isn't some sort of gestapo dictator that has the ability to hold a "personal score" against a taxpayer. The city receives enough in taxes as it is, let the guy build this tower, it's only going to result in more revenue for city hall.
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:35 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by bosdevelopment
It's irrelevant whether or not Chiaforo is requesting an abatement on his property. These are two separate issues all together. Menino isn't some sort of gestapo dictator that has the ability to hold a "personal score" against a taxpayer. The city receives enough in taxes as it is, let the guy build this tower, it's only going to result in more revenue for city hall.
Ahhh ... in a perfect world, I suppose. But did you see the article in today's Globe about how Menino threatened to audit the lease for Fanueil Hall because the company that runs it was going to boot a "local" merchant in favor of a chain? The local merchant sold flip flops. Score one for preserving the local flavor of FH. Or not.
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:59 AM   #36
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property tax

My understanding- and I may be mistaken- of commercial property taxes is that they are fundamentally different from residential taxes.

Commercial taxes are based on a property's value which is directly related to the commercial tenancy and rent revenue within the building. So if a building is 90% occupied it has a very different tax bill than it would if the building were 50% occupied. This is obviously not the case with a residential property tax.

Because occupancy rates change fairly often it is not at all uncommon for a commercial property owner to appeal his property tax bill- IE his rental revenue- which directly correlates to his tax bill- may have dropped significantly, therefore he wishes the property to be reassessed to reflect the current level of occupancy.

I don't know the specifics of this case, but there are different ways to assess the value of a given property. One is based on current cash flow- which will render a lower value when occupancy is low- and another is based on the market expectation of where the office market is likely headed- IE, the value will be greater than current cash flow because rental rates and occupancy are expected to improve thereby increasing the future cash flow of the property.

My point is not necessarily to defend Chiofaro- again, I don't know enough about the specific case- but to explain why an owner might appeal a tax bill.
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Old 06-22-2006, 01:56 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by bosdevelopment
Menino isn't some sort of gestapo dictator that has the ability to hold a "personal score" against a taxpayer.
Ehh...

You have to draw thew line between "shouldn't be" and "isn't". Surely, he shouldn't be. But the fact is that he more or less is.
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Old 06-22-2006, 10:39 PM   #38
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Re: property tax

Quote:
Originally Posted by citydave75
My understanding- and I may be mistaken- of commercial property taxes is that they are fundamentally different from residential taxes.

Commercial taxes are based on a property's value which is directly related to the commercial tenancy and rent revenue within the building. So if a building is 90% occupied it has a very different tax bill than it would if the building were 50% occupied. This is obviously not the case with a residential property tax.

Because occupancy rates change fairly often it is not at all uncommon for a commercial property owner to appeal his property tax bill- IE his rental revenue- which directly correlates to his tax bill- may have dropped significantly, therefore he wishes the property to be reassessed to reflect the current level of occupancy.

I don't know the specifics of this case, but there are different ways to assess the value of a given property. One is based on current cash flow- which will render a lower value when occupancy is low- and another is based on the market expectation of where the office market is likely headed- IE, the value will be greater than current cash flow because rental rates and occupancy are expected to improve thereby increasing the future cash flow of the property.

My point is not necessarily to defend Chiofaro- again, I don't know enough about the specific case- but to explain why an owner might appeal a tax bill.
Property tax is determined by taking 1% of the price the building would sell for. You figure a building of this size has a cap rate of about 6% in a perfect world. They just plug the numbers from there.
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Old 06-23-2006, 03:05 AM   #39
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Citydave you are correct, I am not sure of the specifics either. I do know that tenants pay the taxes on the building, so it is Chiofaro's responsibility to challenge the tax rate if he thinks it should be lower. He probably got some heat from tenants
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Old 08-14-2006, 12:59 AM   #40
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This is an excerpt from Steve Bailey's Boston Sampler in Friday's Globe:

I went to a downtown hotel yesterday to hear the trustees of Harbor Towers explain the sky-high costs of renovations to condo owners -- and promptly got tossed out of the ``private" meeting. Not to worry. A letter to residents outlines the costs, and they are much higher than I led you to believe in last week's column about the failing systems in this concrete waterfront eyesore. The costs for the two towers, according to the letter: $75 million to $95 million, depending on the extent of the overhaul. The assessment on condo owners, based on the higher estimate, ranges from $79,772 to $239,804. If you lived here . . . you'd be unhappy now. [end of quote]


Certainly, this will be a factor in whatever happens to that garage. On a side note, Ive always wondered what happens to large condo complexes when the huge costs to maintain giant, aging buildings become an unjustifiable burden to their occupants. Could we possibly see a Harbor Towers demolition sometime in the near future?

Another side-note: From what I understand, these buildings have been plagued with very serious structural and systems problems from, relatively, the very start. For example, after only a few years of their completion, rebar was already bursting through their concrete columns due to the proximity to the salty sea air and the architects' insistence on unrealistically slim columns. These problems, alongside the Hancock window fiasco, makes me wonder how Pei, Cobb and Freid is even in existence today, much less how they maintained their status as the elite firm they are regarded as.
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