Mayor: Curley House not for sale; bid comes in

April 17, 2009
By

John Ruch

PONDSIDE—Mayoral candidate Kevin McCrea has offered to buy the Curley House, but Mayor Thomas Menino isn’t selling.

The city-owned mansion at 350 Jamaicaway, valued at $2.2 million, has become a budget topic since the Boston Finance Commission (FinComm) called for its sale. The Curley House is closed to the public and used for rental events fewer than 10 days a year, according to FinnComm, with maintenance costs far outstripping income.

While announcing his proposed budget to the Boston City Council last week, Menino reportedly said he will not sell the Curley House because the city would “only get 10 cents on the dollar” for it, according to McCrea.

Menino spokesperson Dot Joyce said she did not hear Menino’s exact words about the Curley House. “I assume the mayor was articulating the real estate realities across the city,” she said. “You’re not getting top dollar for anything right now…The mayor is acting in the best fiduciary concerns of the residents in the city.”

But McCrea said he knows at least one Curley House buyer: himself.

“At 10 cents on the dollar, that’s a hundred-and-fifty grand. I’d write the check tomorrow,” said McCrea, a real estate developer by trade, saying the Curley House would make fine condominiums. “That’s prime real estate in Massachusetts.”

On his campaign blog (ElectKevin.blogspot.com), McCrea offered as high as 50 cents on the dollar.

McCrea said 10 cents on the dollar would be an “improvement” on Menino’s typical city land deals. Frequently, he said, city land is transferred for free to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), which then sells to a developer and keeps the money as a self-funded, quasi-independent agency.

“How many employees is the BRA laying off? Zero. How many teachers are we laying off? Two-hundred,” McCrea said.

Lisa Signori, the city’s budget director, previously told the Gazette that “everything is on the table” for the Curley House’s future, including possible sale. City Councilor and mayoral candidate Sam Yoon previously called for a specific plan.

Asked if there is now any particular plan for the Curley House, Joyce said, “I don’t think so. There are specific challenges there.” She noted that it is a historic property.

Joyce said the city is not selling any property right now “unless there’s something really extraordinary” about the deal.

The land-sale web site for the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development last week showed seven city-owned parcels for sale. They are tax-foreclosed or surplus parcels offered as-is to buyers who agree to rehab them.

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