DND began its management of the flea market building, 65 E. Cottage
Street, on December 3, 2009, the day the city
foreclosed due to an outstanding tax lien.
What had been
a standard DND "landlord" responsibility turned into an
emergency when the Boston Fire Department filed its complaint
on August 18, 2010. This narrative is based on
many conversations with DND's media
relations contact, Lucy Warsh, and concluding on 10/18/2010.
This narrative has been approved by Ms. Warsh.
The city of Boston
foreclosed on 65 E. Cottage St.
on December 3, 2010 due to
an outstanding tax lien The Department of Neighborhood Development,
responsible for all of the City's tax-title foreclosed property, became
caretaker of that property.
When the City takes over a building, they need to
perform an assessment
of the building -- are there tenants? Do utilities need to be
Is there rental income, if so, how much? The assessment
identify everything a property manager would be responsible for.
recalls that upon taking on responsibility for the building, DND
initiated appropriate notifications to the commercial tenants though
she is not aware of the specific dates. The purpose
determine exactly who the commercial tenants were, the nature of their
businesses and the rental agreements.
Because of the scope of
the building and the issues that needed addressing, this property
required the attention of several DND Real Estate Management and Sales
staff, led by the deputy director Sandra Duran. "There was a
check out, " Ms. Warsh stated. "It's a huge building – more
dozen commercial tenants with over 100 people employed by them."
The next major step in gaining control over the
building was to
schedule a walk-through with the fire department and Inspectional
Services and this occurred in February. As a result the fire
department issued three abatements on the property while ISD issued one
violation (mostly related to safety issues)
What followed was
months of working with the prior owner, Hal Cohen, and with several
tenants trying to figure out the best course of action given the
condition of the building (safety and structural issues). At
time DND was trying to preserve existing jobs.
approximately $133,892 in rent from 65 E. Cottage tenants since taking
ownership last December, including payments from UniFirst, Marcy
Navarro (for the Flea Market space), ModHaus, Boston City Paper, and
several of the storage containers that occupied space outside of the
building. As of September 2010, DND spent approximately
included: relocation of the Grealish Boxing Club from the 2nd floor to
the 1st floor; utilities; police details; snow removal; electrical and
plumbing repairs; masonry work; janitorial services; installation of
new locks, fire extinguishers, a fire door, and new exit signage.
As recently as August
2010 DND was continuing to review the
building open (occupied)
the building open would require the installation of
a code compliant sprinkler or fire alarm system while closing the
would include assisting tenants with relocation options.
concern has been all along," Ms. Warsh stated, "to make sure that
safety measures are in place while we determine the need for relocation
options. As you can imagine, and this happens more often than
anyone out there knows, a building with tenants -- could be residential
tenants, could be commercial tenants -- comes into the city's
inventory. All of a sudden this building is off the City's tax
rolls, and it becomes our responsibility to heat, and to maintain
inside and out. " |
"Any kind of liability issue is now on
the city's shoulders. Taking into account in this particular case
the fact that there were over 100 jobs in the building as recently as
last month, we spent a fair amount of time looking at the property from
all angles. We started with the fact that there were three floors
in the building. Is the third floor occupied? No. Is
the second floor occupied? Yes. Let's get the second-floor
tenants off the second-floor so that we can address immediate
structural and safety issues."
"DND had been spending
a fair amount of time working with ISD and with the fire department on
ways that DND could maintain the building with these tenants and not
kick them out, not shut the doors right away. It took a long time
-- it was a pretty complex situation. DND did determine the best
way to handle the building and that is the plan that is being executed
at the present time - relocating the tenants as needed."
part of the plan we needed to assess the capital costs associated with
keeping some of the tenants in the building while making sure that all
safety issues had been satisfied. For example this included
building a firewall. As a comment these plans were not
established in isolation. It was a team effort of DND, BFD and
ISD all working from different perspectives to determine the best
option for a building that is ultimately in the custody and care of the
Department of Neighborhood Development."
Ms Warsh believes the fire department must have
reviewed the building's condition in mid-August. She believes
that because the flea market was operating on weekends and because of
the large amount of storage held in the building by the individual flea
market tenants, the fire department decided the flea market could not
be allowed to continue functioning, and therefore called for an
Once the Boston Fire Department filed a
criminal complaint against DND and given the serious violations of the
fire code, the city had no choice. In essence the fire department
This could go up in flames today. We would not be able to get
through the building. We don't know who is in it. This is a
DND responded by
contacting the owner of the flea market, Marcy Navarro, letting her
know that she should contact the flea market vendors immediately and
let them know that the flea market was closed.
|The city is looking to relocate some of the tenants in the building.
DND is looking to offer relocation assistance to 10 of the commercial
tenants in the building. As a separate effort, Lucy stated that the
DND is looking into other options for the flea market and will be
working with Marcy Navarro to determine a new location from which to
At the present time it is too early to say what will
happen to the building, but DND would ultimately look to find an
appropriate reuse of the site that meets the needs of the community.
DND will follow their standard procedures including the possibility of
holding community meetings.