Hughes Oil tenants offered to buy property

July 5, 2013
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A tenant of the former Hughes Oil property made offers to buy the property before being informed of their impending eviction to make room for a large residential housing project.

One of the current occupants of the industrial property at 3593 Washington St. offered to buy the property from owner the Arborway Corporation for a similar price that owners agreed to from developers Braintree-based John M. Corcoran and Company and Boston-based The Brennan Group, according to one of the tenants.

The lot currently includes several industrial buildings, some of which are occupied by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a national nonprofit community advocacy and homeownership organization that has been profiled by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and Forest Hills Electrical Supply, Inc., a construction supply company. They both received letters informing them that their lease would end this September.

“[The developers agreed to buy] it for less than $3.5 million,” NACA CEO Bruce Marks told the Gazette. “We’d been talking [with the owners] for a couple of years [about buying the property for] about the same range, but they wanted more than that.”

“When we found out [the sale agreement] was in the same range we were considering, we were not happy,” he added. “[The owners] had told us, ‘Don’t even think about making an offer for less than $4 million.’”

“The only outrage I can explain to you is, it came as a big surprise. We were never given the chance to buy the property. It’s not that we had a contract for right of first refusal, [but] it was a matter of being straightforward with us,” Forest Hills Electrical owner Dennis Albert told the Gazette.

A Gazette phone call to the Arborway Corporation was not returned by press time.

The proposed housing project would erect 285 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and townhouses, retail space and open space on the property.

“We’re still mulling [the project proposal] over. A lot of people still haven’t seen the plan. We haven’t had had enough time to discuss it,” Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) steering committee member Carl Lowenberg told the Gazette this week.

Albert said he would like to remain at his current 17-year address, but he also said, “I don’t think you can fight the inevitable. I don’t want to go, but I don’t know what else to do. I think we have to move on.”

Marks, experienced with demonstrations against predatory mortgage lenders, said that NACA plans to fight the eviction.

“We have a very large membership [of NACA-assisted homeowners]. We have people who are very passionate and supportive of NACA. We will take demonstrations, confrontations to [the owners],” he said.

Albert’s son, Matt Albert, said that while he’s not hopeful for a positive result for Forest Hills Electrical and NACA, he knows “NACA will have a fight.”

“I’ll have their back no matter what,” Matt Albert said.

The property is currently zoned as a local industrial subdistrict, meaning that the project will need rezoning to demolish the current buildings and build the proposed mixed-use buildings.

The developers made no mention of the need to evict longtime tenants in order to demolish the existing buildings at a SNA meeting last month. NACA has been on the property for over 10 years and employs over 40 people. Forest Hills Electrical Supply has been on the site since 1995.

“We did tell people at the meeting that the site was partially occupied and that is widely known in the community,” project spokesperson Connie Kastelnik told the Gazette this week.

Lowenberg confirmed that the developers did not mention the current tenants at the SNA meeting.

At that meeting, a SNA member suggested creating a corridor plan similar to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s recently-adopted plan for the S. Huntington Avenue corridor. A plan to revitalize the area, which included a “21st century vision” for transportation and business, was started last year by residents but has not progressed beyond the brainstorming stage.

The lot is located across the street from the former Flanagan & Seaton Motor Car Company location, which is also under consideration for mixed-use development, and the MBTA Arborway bus yard.

The lot extends almost to the edge of the Southwest Corridor Park and abuts a small MBTA building there. It extends almost as far north as Burnett Street, abutting houses on that street.