By Bonnie Adams
Marlborough – Alt.Re Development LLC, a company developing two Marlborough projects, appeared before the City Council June 20 to ask that conditions for the special permits for those projects be changed. The requests were discussed during two public hearings as part of the council's regular meeting.
Stanislav Burdan, a managing partner at Alt.Re, told the City Council that both the St. Mary's of French Hill and the Corbin Plaza projects were intended to be primarily owner-occupied condominium developments. Under a prior special permit granted by the city, St Mary's, the site of the former St. Mary's Catholic parish, which was closed by the Boston Diocese in 2004, was to have 32 owner-occupied units and four leased units.
Although they have dropped the asking price, developers have not yet had luck selling the last eight of the units, Burdan said. As a result, the firm wants to get approval to be able to lease those units instead. The company also asked that the special permit, which expires in September 2012, be extended until September 2016.
His company would do complete credit and other background checks, he told the council, on anyone who wished to lease one of the condominiums.
The developers did not want to lower the price of the units, he added, as they felt it would adversely affect appraised values throughout the rest of the neighborhood. Allowing them to lease the units, Burdan added, would give his firm additional capital for another project they are developing in Marlborough, the Corbin Plaza on Pleasant Street, as well.
Several residents who own condominiums in the St. Mary's development spoke out against the proposal to allow the units to be leased.
Margaret Bailey, 26 Broad St., said that she was one of the first to buy a unit there.
“The main selling point was the entire property was going to be 100 percent owner-occupied,” she said. ” It's a huge shock that the developers want to lease units. It's not the responsibility of the people who already live there to make up the difference.”
Steven Glassman lives at nearby 21 Fay Court.
“The developers had spruced up the neighborhood,” he said, “But renters aren's going to care for that area as their own.
“This is still a construction project,” he added. “They need to finish the work there and give it more time to sell [the remaining units].”
Ward 7 City Councilor Donald Landers agreed.
“Maybe you could give it another four to six months to try to sell the units?” he asked.
The second public hearing addressed the special permit for the Corbin Plaza property, which Alt.Re bought at auction in 2010. The original concept for the project was 17 owner-occupied condominiums. However, the developers had been stymied in their attempts to get funding for this project, Burdan told the council.
“I have been to at least 40 banks,” he said. “Most of them have told me they don's do this kind of funding or they just don's return my calls.”
By changing the special permit to allow the units to be leased, the developers would have a “safety net,” Burdan said. They would still go ahead and try to sell the units, he said, but having the leasing option would help them in their attempts to attain funding.
Several neighbors near the property said they had first approved of the project when the special permit was issued but now were against the proposed changes.
“I was in favor of this at first,” Betty Rigney, 29 Franklin St. said. “We were told the property was going to be cleaned up in the spring. I put a lot of trust and faith in this. Nothing has been done there. It's disgusting.”
The matter of both special permits will next be addressed by the City Council's Urban Affair Committee at a date not yet determined.