Council to vote on issue Tuesday
By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
As expected, Council President Thomas Reilly recommended to the full council on Wednesday, that New Hampshire-based developer EquiVise be designated as the preferred developer of the Dalrymple School.
In making the recommendation, Reilly pointed to the obvious financial benefits of choosing the bidder who had bid the most money for the property, but also alluded to other benefots that could be accrued to the town by working with EquiVise.
“I have been impressed with the diligence in which EquiVise responded by providing alternative designs,” Reilly told the Council. “I am convinced that EquiVise will be capable of pulling together a development proposal that would work. At this point, it would be unreasonable to expect EquiVise to expend any more resources without a commitment from the town. I believe this action should give EquiVise reasonable assurance that we are working with them in good faith.”
Reilly also noted that he had spoken with representatives from each of the qualified bidders, EquiVise and the East Boston Community Development Corporation, and had observed the joint deliberations of the Capital Assets Subcommittee and Dalrymple Reuse Committee before making a decision about which proposal to support.
Furthermore, Reilly indicated that in offering its alternatives, EquiVise had backed away from its earlier proposal, which would have required a variance from the overlay district zoning requirements. The more recent proposals would not need any such variance and have also addressed community concerns that were raised during the process, said Reilly.
“As for the economics of the proposal, the differential in sale price between the EquiVise ($2,050,000) and EBCDC ($1,750,000) is substantial,” he said. “The difference in annual tax yield is especially significant. The EquiVise development will produce an annual tax yield of $120,000, which is more than double that of EBCDC.”
Reilly then went on to explain the indirect economic benefits available to the town, with the acceptance of the EquiVise bid.
“The development will capture the attention of middle income and upper income buyers,” said Reilly. “This is an opportunity for the town and the neighborhood as the area is rich with high quality housing, close to the soon to be renovated Winthrop beach and should spur some residual economic activity to the area.”
According to Reilly, Winthrop’s economic household breakdown, as identified in the town’s 2004 Community Development Plan includes 18 percent of homes in the Upper Income category (over $98,251 and above per year), 36 percent in the Middle Income category ($50,201 to $98, 250), 19 percent in the Moderate Income category ($37,251 to $50,200) and the remaining 27 percent in the Low Income category.
“If my assumption about residual economic development in the area is true, then the financial return to the town is even greater,” said Reilly. “By attracting higher income residents it seems reasonable to expect benefits for the town’s struggling retail sector. . . attracting new households in the middle to upper income level will spur economic development in the area.”
In an aside from his official recommendation, Reilly also attempted to clear up some misinformation in the community, by telling Councilors that waiting lists at the Winthrop Housing Authority are about four months, not a year, as has been reported in the community through other sources.
Proponents of the EBCDC proposal have pointed to overly long waiting lists at the Winthrop Housing as a reason for supporting the EBCDC’s proposal to create senior housing within the existing Dalrymple building.