Seaport hotel could see tax relief, but critics are wary

The Boston Globe | By Jon Chesto
March 21, 2015

BCEC 2City and convention center officials are considering property tax breaks to help build a massive hotel complex across from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, even as the area has emerged as one of the hottest urban real estate markets on the East Coast.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh said officials are “in discussions” about providing a public subsidy for the South Boston waterfront project, which would have at least 1,200 rooms and cost roughly $800 million to build.

“Everything is on the table,” the mayor said Thursday night. “If it’s going to help grow the area, I’m certainly not going to walk away from it.”

That approach troubles Greg Sullivan, research director at the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank in Boston.

“If the convention center expansion can’t attract a major hotel company to build a hotel directly across the street from the convention center on its own merits,” he said, “then what is the point?”

Because the process of selecting a developer remains in the early stages, Walsh and others involved said it is too soon to negotiate the size of any subsidy the city would provide.

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority wants the hotel built in conjunction with the center’s $1 billion expansion. But the future of that expansion became uncertain when Governor Charlie Baker’s administration put a hold on the issuing of bonds, expressing caution about spending money on the project amid a large budget deficit.

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