Property Management Company Stirs Controversy at Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace
|Faneuil Hall Marketplace is one of Boston’s most popular and historic attractions. Composed of four of the city’s famous indoor markets, the shopping center is now known for its indoor and outdoor shopping, restaurants and pushcarts. However, the festival marketplace’s community of retailers and vendors is now divided over changes the facility’s property management company plans to make to the building.While Faneuil Hall Marketplace is owned by the City of Boston, the city leases three of the four buildings–North Market, South Market, and Quincy Market– to Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., a New York real estate company. Accordingly, the city receives a quarter of the rent paid by the marketplace’s tenants, but the actual leases are controlled by Ashkenazy. Recently, the corporation launched a major renovation of the buildings, which will replace the food court in Quincy Market with bars and sit-down restaurants, and also add a boutique hotel in another building.
These changes have largely been welcomed by the vendors and retailers, but many say they were alarmed when they noticed two huge changes in Ashkenazy’s plans: the new plans do not include a place for pushcarts or food counters, and a number of businesses have reportedly received eviction notices.
In a public hearing at City Hall on Monday, December 19, Ashkenazy said four food stalls will be evicted to make room for two sets of elevators and staircases near Quincy Market’s rotunda. Two of this number, Boston Chowda Co. and Monkey Bar, have been offered new leases in different locations. Others, they said, owe a total of $750,000 in unpaid rent.
Despite their statements, however, many retailers are upset with the way the company has treated the evictees. One of the businesses, an Italian fast food stand called Al Mercatino, has been operated by the Bistany family for 30 years. The current owner, Johnny Bistany, reports that they had never been late on rent or had problems with management until they received an eviction notice from a constable in November. Ashkenazy has reportedly suggested that the family merge Al Mercatino with another food stall they own, called West End Strollers, which specializes in Middle Eastern fare. The Bistanys have testified that this is not enough space for the family to continue their operations.
Previously, the property management company had not provided many details on how the changes would affect their tenants until pressed. In response to the displaced push carts, Ashkenazy said that they would be reducing the number of existing pushcarts to 56, instead of 59. However, they said that there were no immediate plans to evict other food vendors. While seemingly less drastic and severe, this announcement has impressed few, especially given the profits Ashkenazy stands to make from the renovations: as previously mentioned, the company collects 75% of Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s tenant rent payments, whereas most property management companies collect only 8-10% of a property’s monthly rent.
If allowed to continue, the renovations will begin in early 2015.