The Boston Redevelopment Authority used dated real estate values to support a back-room deal to sell the Red Sox rights on Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street -- a ploy designed to ease a sweetheart deal, claims a local watchdog who is questioning the accuracy of the appraisal.
"What the BRA has done is taken some old assessments from marginally nearby properties to justify what they intended to do all along, which is to give this deal to the Red Sox," said Gregory W. Sullivan, the state's former inspector general and now research director at Pioneer Institute. "The taxpayers deserve to share in the extremely lucrative public rights to Yawkey Way -- many more millions than the Red Sox have agreed to pay."
The BRA has acknowledged it only received a "verbal" appraisal from a real estate expert, but released to the Herald a list of private rental leases signed between 2005 and 2011 for 12 unnamed Fenway retailers and restaurants, as well as eight identified property sales -- some blocks away -- including a condo sold in 2006, that the agency used to put a price tag on rights to Yawkey Way.
The $7.3 million deal gives the Red Sox game-day and event concessions on Yawkey Way, as well as air rights for Green Monster seats on Lansdowne Street for as long as the team plays in Fenway. The Red Sox bring in $2 million annually from Yawkey Way business. State Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha is investigating the deal, and has criticized the BRA's failure to hold public hearings or seek a formal, written appraisal.
BRA-hired lawyer James Masterman, who is overseeing the deal, said real estate consultant Pamela McKinney provided the valuations.
"We had adequate information on which an informed value of judgment can be placed. I'm not unsophisticated in this area and neither is Pam McKinney. We've been immersed in this market for 10 to 15 years," Masterman said. "There is unquestionably accurate information available to us and that's what happened here."
Masterman said the BRA already took into account rising Fenway property values. McKinney could not be reached for comment.
Sullivan said, "The only way to determine the value is to put it out to bid. Anyone can run concessions on Yawkey Way. They've done a sweetheart, no-bid deal with the Red Sox to give them the ability to make money hand over fist."
Courtesy of Erin Smith