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Wendy Rist, Property Owner, Bakersfield Arms, a Closer Look

Wendy Rist, Owner of Bakersfield Arms

"Know your friends.  Know your enemies.  First get a lay of the land.  Know who you are dealing with."

In this small section of Uphams Corner, Wendy Rist is known only as the "owner of 27-37 Bakersfield Street" otherwise known as Bakersfield Arms.

Wendy Rist Wendy Rist introduced herself to the Annapolis neighborhood residents on October 25th.  She presented herself as contrite and humble, wanting to do good for the community and she cited a long list of her efforts, apparently to demonstrate that she is not a "slumlord."

See article:  Annapolis Neighborhood Meeting Breaks Down in Shouting and Anger

Since purchasing the property, she has upgraded the site with wrought iron fence, better landscaping, closing off the back to prevent "escape routes" and, she says, she built a condominium on Sumner Street.

At the same time, she admitted to not using professional rental agency staff to screen her tenants and seemed unaware of the problems caused by at least three of her tenants until she was presented with detailed police records.  Residents seemed perplexed by her low level of professionality while she responded: "I do the best I can," what you might expect of a homegrown business person, an amateur, who doesn't yet know the ropes.

"I just want to get this behind me," she stated in her prepared and read letter to the Annapolis Neighborhood meeting - humble, apologetic  - even embarrassed .  At the same time, rehabbing Bakersfield Arms is one level of property management but building a condominium close by is totally different - more on the professional scale.  Her humble presentation and her actions did not add up.

Wendy Rist, Small Business Owner

According to the online small business networking site, Manta (www.manta.com), Wendy Rist is the owner of two real estate firms.  Note that the firms’ location is also one of the properties listed under her ownership by the City of Boston Assessing.

Jamaica Plain Realty

2985 Washington Street
Roxbury, MA 02119-1201
Phone: (617) 989-9800

Jamaica Plain Realty in Roxbury, MA is a private company which is listed under real estate buyers representatives. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of Less than $500,000 and employs a staff of 1 to 4.

Crest Realty Management

2985 Washington Street
Roxbury, MA 02119-1201
Phone: (617) 541-0834

Crest Realty Management in Roxbury, MA is a private company which is listed under real estate buyers representatives. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $500,000 to $1 million and employs a staff of 5 to 9.

Wendy Rist, Multi-Millionaire City of Boston Property Owner

According to the City of Boston Assessing, Wendy Rist, usually through trusts (Wendy Rist Trust), is the owner of 23 separate properties with an assessed value of over $12 million.  Such a set of holdings is not the game of an amateur. 
Wendy Rist

Enter the Problem Properties Task Force

On July 13, 2011, Chapter IX of City of Boston Code was amended to include an ordinance (9-13.1) establishing the Problem Properties Task Force. 

Click here to view the ordinance.

In the seventeen months since its creation, the group can cite a long list of accomplishments and many properties remain under review.  The Task Force is still learning what actions are needed / can be taken to rid the city of its problem properties in the most efficacious manner and within the law established by this ordinance and through the use of the legal powers granted to effect change. 

One such power granted, much talked about, but not yet used in any significant way, was the power to issues fines (bills) against a property as a real estate tax levy. 

When the City sent Ms. Rist a bill for just under $24,000 ($23,809) - costs incurred by the city for 45 days of 24x7 police detail, it generated headlines and feature articles in the press and on National Public Radio.

As of Monday, November 19, 2012, she and her lawyer, Robert Russo, were meeting with the Problem Properties Task Force Appeals Board to argue against the charges.  It will take at least a couple weeks before the appeals board makes a decision. 

As reported in the Boston Herald, her attorney, Robert Russo, said he’ll fight the fine — which he said the city already has tacked onto Rist’s property tax bill. “Is it reasonable and necessary for a police car to be stationed outside a property for 24 hours a day? I think the answer is no,” he said. “I can appreciate how the police are trying to recoup some costs. A city, like everyone else, is looking to save some money. But this is not the way to do it.

“In the event I lose this case, I will appeal to the courts. This is a case of first impression, and it’s ripe for appeal,” Russo said.

As is usually the case in matters of litigation, both sides require deep pockets before entering the game.  The City will need to continue to use personnel to work on problem properties (our tax dollars) as well as potentially "fight" the appeals and Ms. Rist will either need to pay the bill to the City or pay the bills to her lawyers. 

Wendy Rist, Good Neighbor?

One more point of interest.  At the Annapolis meeting on October 25, Wendy was asked:  "Where do you live?"  She answered:  "Quincy."  At the Task Force hearing on 11/19, she provided a legal residence of 301 Northey Hill Rd Lisbon, NH 03585-0000, a 150+ mile and 3hour+ trip from Boston.

At the neighborhood meeting, she did not so answer the residents.  Was she truthful in stating Quincy?  Is Quincy her weekday home?  Is New Hampshire her weekend home?  Perhaps it is none of the residents' business where Ms. Rist lives, only that they be afforded outstanding property management for 27-37 Bakersfield Street.

Clearly, Wendy Rist is a 63-year old professional property owner with significant resources at her disposal to manage her properties in a way that benefits both herself and the community.  Instead of fighting the City of Boston and using her resources to defend herself by paying lawyers, it would behoove her to cooperate with the City and to demonstrate to the Annapolis neighborhood and to Uphams Corner the Wendy she presented at the October 25th meeting, the Wendy that appeared to want to "be a good neighbor."

Posted: November 22, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

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