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Mayor Menino: Filene’s pit? So what! Moves forward, says stalled project ‘not my fault’

Mayor Menino: Filene’s pit? So what!
Moves forward, says stalled project ‘not my fault’

N.Y.-BOSTON RIVALRY: Mayor Thomas Menino, right- speaking with Sam Carlyle, co-owner of Scholars American Bistro in Downtown Crossing yesterday- blamed Vornado Realty Trust’s Steve Roth for the hole at the former Filene’s site.
Photo by Angela Rowlings
By Jerry Kronenberg  |   Thursday, April 14, 2011  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Business & Markets

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is giving New York’s Vornado Realty Trust a Bronx cheer, saying he no longer cares how long the developer leaves a hole where Downtown Crossing’s Filene’s building once stood.

“People say to me: ‘Oh, you’ve got a hole there (in Downtown Crossing)’ — so what!” Menino said yesterday at a reception for some 40 businesses that recently opened nearby. “The hole is going to be there until those folks from New York understand we in Boston know how to do development. And just because they can’t get development done, that’s not my fault.”

Vornado tore down the landmark Filene’s building in 2008 to make way for what was supposed to be a $700 million development featuring stores, condos, offices and a hotel.

But the project stalled a few months later when Vornado claimed it couldn’t get financing.

However, questions arose after Vornado chief Steven Roth boasted in a 2010 speech that his firm once left a Manhattan building half-demolished to make the area blighted and win government aid.

Roth’s comments prompted Menino to threaten to take the Filene’s site by eminent domain, and Hub officials ultimately yanked Vornado’s building approvals.

The firm has since put the property up for sale, but has failed to find a buyer — reportedly because Vornado set an unrealistically high price.

Menino yesterday told the Herald he’s stopped focusing on what the developer does.

“If they want to be stubborn — if they want to be arrogant — that’s too bad, (but) we’ll just keep moving forward,” he said. “I’m not going to let Vornado stop us from growing in Boston. If those New Yorkers want to be arrogant and think they can hold us up — we’re Boston, we’re much tougher.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1330637

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