MassHousing, a state agency created to help provide affordable housing, has violated its own guidelines by awarding more than $20 million in development loans to the Columbus Center project.
The purpose of the MassHousing loans is to encourage affordable RENTAL housing. Somehow, the funds (i.e., our taxpayer dollars) have been allocated to this project to subsidize multi-million dollar condominiums. That's alot of granite, maple and stainless steel!! Kudos to House Speaker Sal DiMasi for being the only one with the cojones to speak out against this travesty.
Its funny to see the other politicians try to make excuses for this outrageous scheme, such as Dianne Wilkerson's attempt to justify it with some explanation about how we all will benefit from the green parks that will result and the thousands of construction jobs. While those are certainly positive things, they still do not address the fact that loans from the state which were specifically designated for affordable rental housing, have somehow (payola maybe?) wound up being diverted to yuppie condo's.
As for the project itself, I have no problem with multimillion dollar condos. If some developer wants to add another several hundred units of blonde, bland, Burberried and boring yup's to the mix that is the South End/Back Bay, then so be it. The South End has already turned into a soul-less shadow of its formerly interesting self. Maybe we could get a few more overpriced Emperor's New Clothes-type restaurants for the expense account or Chestnut Hill set ("Health codes be damned - there's a line of Mercedes Sedans parked in front!!") -- see
Boston Globe article, August 26, 2007, http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/08/26/high_end_fare_with_side_order_of_violations/
Of course, I wouldn't want to live in Bay Village during the construction of the project. Last I heard, 24-hour overnight construction was in the works - enjoy your sleeping now if you live in Bay Village - it might be your last chance. Stock up on rat killer, as well, as all that construction will only serve to stir up an already huge rat population.
My big, overall question is why no one, other than one Boston Globe writer, see http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/08/22/state_agency_ignores_own_guidelines_in_condo_loans/
, and House Speaker DiMasi, has addressed this issue. Are the people of Boston too apathetic, stupid or drunk to care about such an issue? If this had happened in, say, New York, the Times would have been filled with letters to the editor, editorials, op-ed pieces, etc. calling for the resignation of the head of the state agency. But not here in transient Boston. Why care about this issue when after his next bonus, Biff and Jennifer will pack up Casey and Madison and move out to one of the "W" suburbs?...