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Filene’s Site Developer and Mayor Manino Going Head to Head

filense-bostonMayor Thomas M. Menino is threatening revoke permits for the stalled downtown Filene’s redevelopment and is accusing one of the developers, the Boston Globe reports.

Menino’s move comes after comments made in New York by Vornado Realty Chairman Steven Roth, which Menino said indicate Vornado is deliberately stalling work in a gambit to get government funding, according to the Globe.

Roth was quoted as saying he sat on the former Alexander’s Department store in midtown Manhattan in the 1990s, allowing it become blighted in order to squeeze money out of public officials. Vornado acquired the site after the store closed and, similar to the Filene’s site, left it half demolished before eventually building a glass skyscraper that now houses the Bloomberg financial news company.

“Why did I do nothing?’’ Roth said, according to the Observer. “The more the building was a blight; the more governments would want this to be redeveloped; the more help they would give us when the time came.’’

In response, Mayor Manino wrote:

“This development is too important to Downtown Crossing and to the entire City of Boston to be used as a bargaining chip to improve your bottom line”

Menino has made revitalization of Downtown Crossing a priority, and at his insistence, Gale and Vornado draped tarps over the half-demolished buildings. However, the developers have resisted other calls to improve the site because of the project’s struggling finances.

Original plans for the One Franklin project called for a 39-story tower with a hotel, stores, offices, and more than 160 condominiums, but the developers have been considering ways to scale back the work to make it easier to finance.

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