The game of chess between the city of Boston and the operator of Faneuil Hall Marketplace took an unusual turn Tuesday, as the Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. paid what it owes to the city and hinted at a larger battle between the two combatants.
The Boston Planning & Development Agency on November 9Ashkenazy for failing to make a $2.1 million in-lieu-of-taxes payment to the city and for allowing a $110,000 lien to be placed on the property by a contractor. In doing so, city officials made it seem as if their primary concern was the fact that the company had failed to provide financial relief to the marketplace’s tenants.
Over the weekend, Ashkenazythat it hasn’t collected any rent from tenants since April, and on Tuesday the company paid the money it owes the city and resolved the lien.
In a statement, Ashkenazy spokesman Chris Santarelli indicated the company had been hoping the city would defer the in-lieu-of-taxes payment so the firm could provide more financial relief to the merchants. The in-lieu-of-taxes payment is referred to as a PILOT payment.
“To help provide further relief to merchants, a component of our discussions with the city related to making adjustments to the timing of when our PILOT payment was due. Throughout the negotiations, whether or not we would make the PILOT payment was never in question,” Santarelli said in the statement.
“Given the recent communication from the city, we now understand these discussions are no longer continuing and we have since made the PILOT payment,” he added. “We will continue working with merchants independently to identify the best solutions we can that rectify outstanding rents and adjust our agreements moving forward.”
Brian Golden, the head of the Boston Planning & Development Agency, which owns the marketplace, issued a statement of appreciation for the Ashkenazy payment. “We continue to be concerned about the small, locally-owned Faneuil Hall Marketplace tenants, and will work with Ashkenazy to support them during this challenging time,” he said.
The Ashkenazy statement suggests the city of Boston wasn’t willing to forestall any revenue from Ashkenazy even if it would have helped the marketplace merchants.
Under the terms of a 99-year lease that expires in 55 years, Ashkenazy pockets all the rent paid by the marketplace tenants. In return, the company makes an annual payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to the city of Boston, which this year amounts to $4.2 million. The company also pays the Boston Planning & Development Agency the nominal sum of $10 in rent.
In pre-COVID-19 times, the deal was so attractive that Ashkenazy agreed to pay $140 million in 2011 to the previous operator to take over the Faneuil Hall Marketplace lease.