While it looks like Massport, and the AutoPort, will get a renewed lease to use the Little Mystic parcels for parking damaged cars, documents from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) indicated they needed more time to negotiate that lease and to formulate a mitigation package for the Town.
The BPDA revealed its negotiation status in a document prepared for its Aug. 15 Board meeting that asks the Board to approve a two-month extension on the expiring 40-year lease. That lease came up on May 31, but was extended three months at the May meeting. Now, that extension will end on Aug. 31, and the BPDA hopes to get more time.
“Because Massport has conveyed to the BPDA the importance of the Little Mystic Parcel for the continuing operations of the AutoPort, staff is again seeking a two-month extension to the existing lease with all of the same terms as are presently in effect,” read the document. “This additional extension will allow staff to continue to analyze if a longer term lease renewal is appropriate for the property; further analyze feedback from the community, elected officials and non-profits regarding possible mitigation measures that BPDA will require of Massport or any other industrial Lessee of the Little Mystic Parcel; and provide additional time to negotiate the terms of a new, longer term lease for the Little Mystic Parcel, including determining an appropriate rent for the property… Extending this lease in shorter increments serves to maintain an urgency to these negotiations and demonstrates that arriving at terms acceptable to the BPDA is of a high priority.”
Councilor Lydia Edwards said she prefers the short-term extensions so that the process doesn’t speed out ahead of the community.
“I prefer short-term leases until we have a clear, robust plan for mitigation and benefits for Charlestown,” she said. “I still think many folks want a little more time to comment and provide suggestions.”
The Little Mystic parcels abut the Little Mystic Channel on Terminal Street – on the opposite side of the AutoPort, and also abut the Town’s large sports field complex. They consist of about 147,000 sq. ft. and are used for parking damaged cars by the AutoPort. However, last year, after learning of the lease expiration through a newspaper investigation, as well as the very low rent on the property paid by Massport, many in the community desired to see about getting the parcels out of the industrial zone and into use by the community for green space.
While there hasn’t been a determination as to whether or not that will or will not happen, the BPDA documents do seem to indicate that the lease will be renewed to preserve jobs – especially since the BPDA did an appraisal of the property to determine the proper rent.
“Specifically, the Little Mystic Parcel plays an integral role in the overall operations of the Autoport’s import/export operation,” read the document. “Since it is ideally located adjacent to the main storage yard and near the vehicle processing facility at 300 Terminal Street, the Little Mystic Parcel provides extra car storage capacity, thereby greatly increasing efficiency. Given existing high import/export volumes, Massport and the AutoPort are seeking a lease renewal of the Little Mystic Parcel in order to sustain their current operations… According to Massport, the AutoPort is a good corporate citizen, having donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to local organizations.”
The documents did get down to some plans for how to approach a new mitigation package for the Town from Massport, as Charlestown gets very little from the Authority in comparison to other communities with such significant land-holdings. The BPDA documents read that meetings are being set up now to try to define what mitigation would be appropriate.
“Staff is currently engaged in dialogues with area elected officials, non-profits and neighbors and will plan a future workshop to refine mitigation ideas to ensure that measures that BPDA will require for entering into a new, long-term lease for the Little Mystic Parcel are fully vetted, realistic and as impactful as possible,” read the document.
The BPDA Board was expected to grant the two-month extension at its meeting tonight, Aug. 15.