Sunday, March 17, 2013

Harvard’s Disappearing Elderly Housing - Why? Tax credit expired?

1. Introductory.
2. Good point.
3. Response.

1. Introductory.

I left the topic of Harvard’s disappearing elderly housing with the intention of doing some more research.

Doing my research caused me to be down for a few days.

I have gotten the following well thought out opinion on the reason for the maneuvering.

It is a good point and helps me get back in without the need for finishing the extensive research I was in the middle of. The only reason I am not identifying the source is that I have had people send me suggestions who then would be downright shocked if I printed the idea with their name attached, thinking they were sending just a friendly idea.

I have suggested to the author that I would be pleased to identify the author should the author so wish. In the meantime, it is a good point.

2. Good point.

Tax credits were available 20 or so years ago to developers of new low-rent buildings. I think the 20-yr life of that tax break is ending. Expiring-use is the term used to describe the situation. Benefits of owning such a building disappear and uncertainty about the future is created for the tenants. Although Harvard is nonprofit they may have been able to sell the annual tax credits to others.

This is my unverified guess about the situation...

3. Response.

There could very possibly be some tax angles of this sort maneuvered into the transaction.

The variance was granted on October 5, 1970. It was a modification to a prior variance.

The entity receiving the variance was identified as “Putnam Square Apartments, Inc., by Thomas W. Cornu, Treasurer.”

Under the variance, this building was allowed to have about 50% more floor space than it would have been allowed in Harvard Square, a few blocks away. The zoning was the same as Harvard Square proper until we changed it to neighborhood zoning in the 1989 Natalie Ward (East Harvard Square) petition.

My first exposure to the nuances of this property came few years after the 1970 variance when everybody in the room seemed to agree that this was the typical disappearing affordable housing allowed under the various games in style that week.

The neighbors were insistent that the construction was by a straw and that Harvard was the real owner. The owners insisted they were owners in reality.

A few years later, Harvard suddenly became the owner.

My informed estimate is that this was a con by which Harvard was creating housing for people affiliated with the school and that Harvard did not then need the housing. So Harvard played the games and got a massive building and an arrangement by which Harvard would eventually have housing for affiliates at no real cost to Harvard.

My opinion is that Harvard’s purchase of the I90 (Mass. Pike) exit to Cambridge / Brighton provided Harvard with such a massive area for future development that Harvard figured this property was worth more to it selling the property than as future affiliate housing. In the past decade or so, fine print in parking requirements of the zoning have been changed by Decker and company to ease conversion to affiliate housing rather than continued use as elderly housing.

Alewife Destruction, Animal Pogrom, Cambridge (MA,USA) Chronicle

On March 2, 2013, I posted a copy of an proposed oped sent to the Cambridge Chronicle concerning pending destruction at Alewife.

The oped has not been printed.

Below is another copy of the oped, along with the transmittal letter to the Cambridge Chronicle.

Note that at Alewife, the destroyers lie that they are protecting the environment.

On the Charles River, they brag they are heartless animal abusers and tell people that their belligerent animal abuse excuses their belligerent environmental destruction.

Cambridge, MA, USA, has a very sick Machine controlling its politics. They combine this bragging with non stop lies that they are holier than thou.

The photos previously provided to the Cambridge Chronicle concerning Alewife were reprinted here in the last couple of weeks.



Cambridge Chronicle

The following is proposed as an oped defending Alewife. This commentary is shorter than the con games you have printed by or supporting people fighting for the destruction of Alewife. And I am still willing to provide photos of phase 1 of the destruction of Alewife. This oped is considerable smaller that the two full page photo spreads which have been printed supporting the supporters of destruction.


The “Defenders” of Alewife are that much closer to destroying Alewife.

In October - November 2011, Cambridge and the Department of Conservation and Recreation destroyed acres of the irreplaceable, ancient, Alewife woodlands. They conducted a mass pogrom of animals whose families had lived there for centuries.

Monday, February 25, these destructive people came that much closer to probable total destruction of the irreplaceable Alewife woodlands.

You see, friends of these governments have been saying the destruction was “needed” to protect North Cambridge from flooding. These governments’ half truths supported these nonsensical claims. The half truths said that the governments were providing protection against the worst possible storm in any two year period. But the area has seen two 50 years storms in the past 20 years, and 100 year protection should be provided.

There were and continue to be alternatives to destroying Alewife for flood protection. There are two properties on either part of CambridgePark Drive next to the needless destruction at Alewife which could easily have flood protection constructed as part of the projects. Running to Alewife Brook Parkway along the railroad right of way from there is a massive parking lot under which the rest of the needed flood protection can be provided.

There is no need to destroy Alewife.

But, in the pages of the Cambridge Chronicle, the founder of a “Friends” group which claims to be defending Alewife has bragged of the destruction of acres of Alewife for that Two Year flood protection.

This “Friend” of Alewife has for the past 15 years told people to tilt at windmills fighting long shot fights against private developers. She tells people not to look at the public destruction. This “friend” of Alewife does not tell people she supports destruction of the Alewife reservation by the public developers. She does not tell people that her friends should have easily been able to enter into joint projects with the developers in these three parcels instead of destroying Alewife.

At minimum, they have the power of eminent domain.

There is a “neighborhood association” which tells people to yell at the developers.

Neither the “Friends” nor the “Neighborhood Association” has publicly called on people to tell the public agencies to behave responsibly. The “Friends” group, if you read her letter in the Cambridge Chronicle, is on the wrong side. The “Neighborhood Association” shares the common trait of Cambridge Machine organizations: get people to do exactly the wrong thing, and reelect their friends on the Cambridge City Council.

The project on the south side of Cambridge ParkDrive has started construction. The project on the north side of Cambridge ParkDrive is going through reviews. Neither is working with the City of Cambridge or the DCR to provide flood protection needed by North Cambridge as part of their project.

Monday night, February 25, a developer announced to the Cambridge Conservation Commission a third project for the massive parking lot running along the railroad right of way.

This is the same developer who is in the ground in the condo project on the South Side of Cambridge ParkDrive, next door to his new project. Both of his projects include flood protection underneath. All a responsible government needs to do is build bigger flood protection under the three projects.

The two fake “protectors” fit a pattern in Cambridge politics. Both are part of the Cambridge Machine. The Cambridge Machine has a long record of its front groups achieving much less than they claim to stand for and, frequently, achieving exactly the opposite of what they claim to stand for.

What is unusual is for one of the fake “protectors” to admit in the pages of the Cambridge Chronicle that her “friends” organization is a fraud.

It is too late to build under the one project which is in the ground.

It is not too late to build under the other two projects.

All it takes is a city government which is not lying when it claims to be pro environment.

All it takes is a city government which is not hiding behind fake “protectors,” and which does its duty and provides meaningful flood protection under the two remaining buildings in the process.

Alewife can be saved. Will it be?