To the Honorable, the City Council:
Attached is a letter dated September 26, 2013 from Leggat McCall Properties requesting that the City of Cambridge consider the disposition by a long-term lease to Leggat McCall of four-hundred twenty (420) parking spaces and a portion of the ground floor retail space at the City-owned First Street Garage. Leggatt McCall has requested this in order to satisfy its asserted parking needs in association with its planned redevelopment of the former Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse at 40 Thorndike Street, and to improve and manage first floor retail space at the First Street Garage to contribute to the vitality of the area. Leggat McCall states in its letter that one of its goals in improving the retail space would be to secure a retail grocery store as a tenant there, which Leggat McCall would manage as lessor through a master lease arrangement with the grocery store as lessee.
Potential advantages to the City from such a disposition include: increased parking space revenue from the under-utilized parking garage; increased revenue from new businesses locating in the retail space in the garage building; the provision of valuable retail services to area residents (such as a grocery store); making the First Street area more vibrant; and reducing the City's administrative burden in managing the retail space.
An action by the City Council to declare this property available for disposition would initiate a process, lasting approximately six to eight months, during which the value of the property to be leased would be appraised, a formal proposal would be solicited from the potential master lessee, and public hearings would be held to evaluate the proposal. At the end of this process, the City Council would decide whether or not to dispose of the property at a specified price, along with any other terms and conditions of the master lease. Attached is a memorandum from the Director of Traffic, Parking and Transportation to me stating that the 420 parking spaces in the First Street Garage and the portion of the first floor retail space used by the Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department are available for disposition so long as the areas used by the department are relocated to other property sufficient to serve the department's needs. The remainder of the retail space at the garage building is currently vacant and also available for disposition.
Property Disposition Process
There are two critical steps in the property disposition process:
- Chapter 30B of the Massachusetts General Laws requires that the City secure appraisals for the property and issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) from parties that may be interested in acquiring the property according to the conditions set forth by the City in the RFP. A winning bidder would be selected, but the eventual disposition of the property would be conditioned upon completion of the additional process set forth below.
- Chapter 2.110 of the City of Cambridge Municipal Code (the "Disposition Ordinance"), outlines a process required for the City to dispose of City-owned property, which will result in a "fair analysis of how the greatest public benefit can be obtained from the City property in question." The City Manager is required to convene a community meeting to discuss the matter and submit a detailed report to the City Council, the Planning Board and the City Clerk. The City Council would then refer the matter to separate public hearings by the Planning Board and the City Council, after which the City Council must vote by a two-thirds majority to approve disposition of the property at an agreed-upon price. If the vote were to fail at that time, then the property would remain with the City.
I am requesting now that the City Council declare the 420 parking spaces and the first floor retail space at the First Street Garage available for disposition on terms and conditions satisfactory to the City. This action would authorize me to begin the process of obtaining appraisals and issuing a Request for Proposals.