By Seth Daniel
Members of the South End Forum are not exactly buying the assurances of a new Boston attorney representing the Church of Scientology in an unexpected announcement last week at the Worcester Square Area Neighborhood Association (WSANA) that a sale of the old, blighted Hotel Alexandra is imminent.
“Words of assurance can grow meaningless when history is your teacher,” wrote Forum Moderator Steve Fox this week after noting the news from last week. “Since the claims that are currently being made by the owner’s representatives are precisely the claims that have been made for decades by their predecessors, we are, to say the least, highly skeptical, and will continue to push for action on the eminent domain front.”
Attorney David Suny, of McCormack Suny Law Firm, appeared unannounced at WSANA on May 23 to tell the neighborhood that brokers from the Church headquarters in Los Angeles continue to negotiate with the three potential buyers and that the goal is to have a sale of the signature property on Washington Street within a month.
Fox said this week that Suny ought to get in line, as the South End neighbors have heard such claims from other lawyers several times before.
He said news that the Church will pursue building their headquarters in Allston, and he said that would be a great piece of leverage to force a sale.
“The only variable that has changed is the stated desire of the Church to actually proceed with building their new headquarters in Allston,” he wrote. “And that will require a sometimes tedious BPDA approval process, neighborhood support in Allston, and elected official support. Because the Alexandra stands as a major impediment to an owner’s reputation for doing the right thing and actually caring about the neighborhood, the South End will be both present and vocal in reminding all parties considering the new Allston project of our continuing frustration and warning all that a cooperative or caring reputation does not precede them.”
Beyond that, he said many, including himself, would like to see the property investigated for an eminent domain taking as part of the Urban Renewal designation in the neighborhood, which many believe will not be renewed in five years.
“The South End Forum has specifically asked our City Councilors and BPDA Director Golden to begin a full-throated examination of an eminent domain taking of this parcel under the terms of our neighborhood’s designation as an UR district for the next five years,” he wrote. “Unless we use the eminent domain powers granted under Urban Renewal blight definitions now, we will lose eminent domain as a tool and will face a difficult uphill battle to get the parcel developed.”
Suny told WSANA members last week that the Church needed the proceeds of the sale to fund significant renovations to their proposal Allston headquarters.