Stalled Developments/ Somerville’s Cash Cow Part III / The Plot Scheme Thickens 

By William Tauro 

This story is about a very good friend of mine who once recently owned a property in Ball Square in Somerville. 
The property was in stalled development mode for many years until the property’s owner, a life long Somerville resident who ran a legitimate family entertainment business, a bowling alley for many years.  

He couldn’t hold onto the property any longer and he was at the end of his rope because of an eminent domain situation that forced him to lose the property to the MBTA. 
One of the strange occurrences that took place is that we heard that allegedly the mayor got involved, rearrange the deal with the MBTA and with is influential position had the MBTA take the property by emminent domain.  
The purchase price that the MBTA gave the property owner for the forced imminent domain taking of his property was far less than 1/8 of what the property value was actually worth. 
The property owner even tried to meet with the MBTA and instead of selling the property to them he asked the MBTA to relocate his business to another location. 
Allegedly once the mayor got wind of the property owner’s meeting and intentions with the MBTA, the mayor called the property owner to his office and got very upset with this person and told him that relocating him anywhere in Somerville is not an option. 
The properties that were involved in this particular scheme to deprive the property 

owner of his actual property value and a big violation of his property rights that took place were regarding 662-664 Boston Avenue Medford and the other side of the same property which is connected to 1 Ball Square in Somerville. 
Now, all of a sudden the real strange occurrences in this ordeal is alleged that this well connected developer who was also supposedly a lifelong friend of the mayor has strangely and conveniently had ended up with the same property and who is now is supposedly getting the property permitted for 150 units making the deal worth over $80,000,000 (eighty-million dollars). 
$80,000,000 is a big jump from the $750,000 that the original owner received for the property not so long ago before it was arranged for the eminent domain property taking. 
Now is it just a coincidental occurrence that these characters are all the same players who are allegedly connected to the mayor and who are also all the same key players in this deal and many more across the city just like it?
Eminent Domain is “The power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property.” Please note it wasn’t meant for private use by a private developer. 
In many cases around somerville, many have always always found it strange that the mayor would want to meet with all the developers before they propose anything.  
The similarities, the motivations and footprints appear to be the same in many circumstances. 
By meeting with the developers, the mayor could squeeze the developer and get political financial support from the them then after a while he could discourage their development. Then after a while the developer would get discouraged and then move on. The mayor can then get control of what goes there and could easily direct the property owners to one of his own developers. 
After reading and investigating other similar stories, there are just so many very similar situations to each one and it’s not just a coincidence as you can see.  
How can that be and how can he obtain their property from the MBTA which they took from my friend how could the developer obtain it from the MBTA without the proper bidding process? 
Through investigations, we have also discovered that this well-connected developer could allegedly also have a very good friend at the MBTA who could have possibly and conveniently bypassed the bidding process for him and maybe that’s how they could of gotten this done?
The victim in this alleged scheme, the property owner, only received only $750,000 from the MBTA a fraction of a percentage of what it was worth. $750,000 is not an awful lot of money especially after over 50 years of owning the property and running a family orientated business. 
And now, not to soon later, the MBTA’s allegedly plans to turnover the said property to the mayor’s alleged friend, the developer who is now planning on building a $80,000,000 one-hundred-fifty unit development project on that same property site. 
Now even more of a coincidence, these well-connected developers are allegedly now calling the former property owner, the victim, to vacate the property so that they can let their project move forward.
To my understanding isn’t it a conflict of interest, unethical and absolutely criminal if an elected official is actually doing something like this? Couldn’t this be considered organized crime?
Is the mayor involved? Is he abusing his political powers to orchestrate these back door dealings? We hope not. 
We will continue to monitor this situation and as this story unfolds, we will bring you up to speed on its outcome. 
 

20 thoughts on “Stalled Developments/ Somerville’s Cash Cow Part III / The Plot Scheme Thickens ”

  1. This is a very interesting story …. You see my grandparents knew the Curtatone family and they helped them out constantly back in the day circa 1958 and let me tell you the son is just like the father , my mother could tell you many interesting stories about the Curtatone family from the beginning …

  2. Clipped from the link above:

    Last spring state Sen. Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) proposed a constitutional amendment relative to eminent domain. The language of the bill stated:

    “With just compensation paid, private property may be taken only when necessary for the possession, occupation and enjoyment of land by the public at large, or by public agencies. Except for the privately owned public utilities or common carriers, private property shall not be taken for private commercial enterprise, for economic development or for any other private use, except with the consent of the owner.

    Property shall not be taken from one owner and transferred to another, on the grounds that the public will benefit from a more profitable private use.”

    We need to pursuance city aldermen to adopt an ordinance that states the above because in many cases, using the GLX excuse, these properties are being sold to developers who make millions while the vulnerable homeowners get pennies on the dollar ($200k vs. $1.5), and cannot afford high priced lawyers to fight which could take years. The administration knows this and why they bully up on individual homeowners.

    Homeowners across the city need to banned together and use the Institute for Justice which has experience and expertise to fight shady practices by politicians and developers whose sole purpose is to gain higher office and increased wealth which can be speculated as to be used for future corruptive means.

    There is some useful information here on Reddit that maybe helpful:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/3zsu5x/somerville_taking_279_properties_via_eminent/

    https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/3yua2o/city_of_somerville_sued_for_attempting_to_eminent/

  3. Here is the latest article (2016)– Union Sq., owners fighting eminent domain —

    http://newbostonpost.com/2016/03/31/eleven-years-after-kelo-somerville-seeks-to-take-279-houses-by-eminent-domain/

    The owner should try to contact the organization helping these owners to see if there is something he can do.

    I know from personal experience if you fight long enough with the right people on your side, you can beat almost anything.

    I wish the owner the best!

  4. If you look at the Massachusetts interactive property map (google MassGIS), you’ll see that the bowling alley property is a) entirely in Medford, and b) assessed at $506,200 all told, and $278K for just the land. (Surprised those derelict buildings are assessed that high, considering they’re probably full of asbestos and lead paint, not to mention soil contamination from the garage.) So I don’t know what the guy is complaining about, or what the mayor of Somerville would have to do with it.
    And to put 150 units on that property you’d have to build a 30-story tower.

  5. I don’t understand-

    Anonymous–

    Your claim is the property is in Medford? So why is the city of Somerville involved here?

    Medford doesn’t run the GLX or do they have a hand in this? I suppose they do since Tufts is funding a station on their campus.

    The owner should contact the organization helping homeowners fight the illegal eminent domain case city hall waged against 279 Union Square home and business owners. I don’t know where the case stands, but I did hear the solicitors screwed up on the documents that essentially gave the owners leverage to fight back.

    Also to note – I heard that GLX is dead. This was told to me by an insider of the contracting world locally. The fact they postponed it to 2027 tells us they ran into problems.

    With a new administration running things, I doubt they will get this project to continue.

    My point being — no GLX, no stealing homes and properties– their plan is out the window.

    But we need a contractor and journalist to man/woman up and tell these property owners to hang on!

    The continued abuse of eminent domain is alleged fraud, because first of all GLX is postponed for a decade. Secondly, it’s taking property away without the legal justification and verification of GLX being completed.

    It’s like what they do with many properties– say it’s going to be one thing and change after it’s been bought and sold.

    We can add this to the archives of Somerville past– alleged illegal rezoning scams turning commercial into residential in order to benefit those working behind the scenes (Cameron and Cedar Street), also Union Square Post office (theatre group now allegedly condos), (PHCS to Tufts, now mixed use).

    It appears to me that they can’t get things to go the way they want as it is, so they play the waiting game and hope everyone forgets or moves away. We should also pass an ordinance which states that no public official should be able to benefit through property of the town they serve. There is a claim that one of our former alderman owns over 150 properties in our city and was directly involved in changing zoning regulations in order to benefit.

  6. The mayor of this once beautiful and peaceful city is a joke and happily will screw anyone for his friends. He’s been slowly wrecking the city and making it impossible for families that have been here so long they helped build the city to stay in the city the love and have raised generations of their family in. It’s no surprise he’s at it again, he’s been up to dirty backhand dealings since he step foot in office.

  7. This type of shady dealings has been going on for decades. My grandfather owned the land that is now Grenada Highlands in Malden. Like this gentleman, they took it imminent domain. Like this gentleman, it was sold back to the developer and made in to that monstocity that is Grenada Highlands.

  8. So here we are again…

    Why let facts get in the way of a “good” story. Maybe dig just a wee bit more to find that the property’s value paid to soar owner in eminent domain cases is based on land value at time of the purchasing–not on what the subsequent owner will develope it into.

    Also, said owner WILL be required to incorporate the MBTA Green Line Station into the project. That cost is on the owner just as it was for Federal in Assembly.

    1. Exactly. The biggest part that they’re dancing around is the property is in Medford and the new development is being permitted by the city of Medford. Somerville has jack all to do with it.

  9. Get a GOOD lawyer….George McLaughlin,comes to mind….McLaughlin and sons they handle land and eminent domain law

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