FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2011

NO to the Copley Place Expansion!
Copley Neighbors to “occupy” the Mayor’s Office & “occupy” the Boston Redevelopment Authority Meeting on Thursday 17 November 2011
South End, Boston, Massachusetts --- Thursday, November 17, 2011 Copley Neighbors and Friends will “occupy” the Mayor’s Office at 3:00pm and “occupy” the Boston Redevelopment Meeting at City Hall on 5:30pm Thursday, November 17 to bring our message: “No! This is not the way we want public land to be developed! We believe it is immoral and illegal!” We asked the question, “In whose interest is the Copley Place Expansion?” and our answer is resoundingly “Copley Place Expansion is not in the interest of the people! It benefits the 1% and not the rest of us!” We make our claims and demands in honor of a 50+ year historical tradition where people in this neighborhood have worked for housing not just for poor people, not just for rich people, but housing for everyone! Simon Property intends to build a soaring 625-foot 47-story elite residential tower with an enclosed “wintergarden” that replaces and encroaches upon the expanse of public open space land now at the corner of Dartmouth and Stuart Street in the Back Bay/South End. It also “privatizes” the gateway to the Southwest Corridor Park. We believe it is unconscionable and illegal for the Governor, the Mayor and the Boston Redevelopment Authority to try to rush a BRA decision on the Copley Place expansion at the November 17 BRA meeting. We intend to stop this BRA decision and prevent this Copley Place Expansion from moving forward. When politicians, developers and corporate-driven press try to fast-track a project like the Copley Place expansion, we believe they must be hiding something from the people. The Copley Place Expansion project: •   •   • is a segregated housing development on public land;  is illegal because it usurps and privatizes public open space that was created with Federal HUD UDAG subsidies; disregards and violates the spirit and letter of the City of Boston’s UDAG application and court orders associated with the Copley Place development and parts of the surrounding neighborhood. Those agreements require at least 25% affordable housing units on site and provides for community retail space with

50% reserved for community development corporations and minority business enterprises at below-market rents; • violates the spirit and letter of local zoning laws. We disagree with the use of “spot zoning” at this location to override existing laws that would allow this tower to soar more than 4 times above the legal zoning limit of 155 feet; the city’s vision of air rights development from 2000 did not support a new tower at this location. has yet to adequately address a long list of serious problems associated with the tragic loss of public space and serious loss of quality of life, and have shown an unwillingness to address and improve issues of public safety;

The Tent City development site next door exemplifies the long history and people’s vision in this neighborhood of housing and businesses not just for poor people, not just for rich people, but for everyone. The original housing built by the Copley Developer on Harcourt Street follows the goals set for the Copley site of 25% affordable units on site. In both cases, these developments are on public land. This open letter from Mel King speaks for us: An Open Letter to Mayor Thomas Menino, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Governor Deval Patrick: This is a request that you not be guilty of promoting a segregated housing program here at Copley Place. The Copley Expansion Project that is under consideration under your leadership should not be allowed to go forward. There are many reasons that have been raised by way of serious objections from the local community to the plans for The Copley Expansion. For me, the most crucial one, the one I believe causes the most harm, is the acceptance of a proposal that will; A) Allow segregated housing on public land and B) Create conditions that will further exacerbate the housing problems and the ability to exist in this neighborhood by folks of color and persons of lower income. The economic and social diversity of our community is threatened. I have spent a large part of my life dealing with segregation. What is the most egregious and one of the most serious aspects of this proposal, is how many people turn a blind eye to the kind of impact that projects based on segregation like this will have on individuals. I have heard the voices of the youth who clearly see that they are being pushed out of the South End. They understand far too clearly that the policies and practice are geared to the study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council that says that in the next 20 years over thirty percent of the people who are living in Boston whose incomes are low will be living at least 25 miles from the center of the city. So when you understand that and you attend meetings where there is an indifference to these issues, it reminds me of the signs that I saw when I went South to college. So it is not a question for me of whether there will be 25 percent of the housing

as affordable or not. I start with the fact that this is a project or process that one cannot trust. One of the things that we hear about The Copley Expansion Project is that they will create some jobs and therefore the scars that it places on people of color do not matter. This is part of the reason why it took so long to end the segregated systems both here and in the South. Yes, there were some people who stood because they understand injustice. The fact of the matter is that if the people themselves who were affected had not stood up and marched and did not face the cattle prods and the fire hoses and sometimes death; things to whatever extent would have not changed. I feel, and see, a similar thing that is necessary here. It is interesting that in the shadow of the Expansion Project there are folks who are involved in Occupations as a way to confront and expose the same kind of behavior that put profits before people’s humanity and dignity. You, as elected officials, and as members of the Boston Redevelopment Authority have a moral of responsibility and we do not want you to get sucked in with a policy that is geared to dehumanize. You have a chance to establish a policy of inclusion where all the tribes are welcome and all the gifts are shared. It’s time for you to step up and provide leadership based on justice. The issue of jobs and money is what allowed slavery to exist. Do not become advocates for a system that uses the public land to put greed before a person’s dignity, a community’s dignity and spiritual and mental health. Make it known that projects like this are not welcome. (end of Mel King’s letter)

Copley Neighbors is a group of neighbors who live near the proposed Copley Place
Expansion and their supporters.

Contact Information:
Copley Neighbors Mel King Ken Kruckemeyer Susan Klimczak ENDS ###   email: copleyneighors@gmail.com Twitter: @copleyneighbors email: mhking@mit.edu phone: 617.578.0597 email: kek@mit.edu email: klimczaksusan@gmail.com phone: 617.817.2877 Twitter: @zackboston

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful