I listened to City Councilor Corey Belanger on 980 WCAP yesterday morning, he was on with Teddy (after apparently forgetting he was booked and advertised on City Life).
I didn’t catch his entire interview and it isn’t posted on the radio replay but caught the tail end when he took Trinity Financial the Developers of the Hamilton Canal District to task, stating they were behind on two buildings, that the Manager was working on getting a local company to stay in Lowell and take the entire 110 Canal Place (UML has 2 floors presently) and that the City shouldn’t be doing their work getting tenants and that he would be holding them accountable and asking for plans and a time table. Teddy warned him that he might be upsetting people with his comments but he said he stood behind them.
My initial thought (and text) when I first heard him was he wasn’t all wrong and if they are behind they need a push and if they aren’t working with this unnamed business they should be.
However I should have considered the source and before agreeing with him I should have asked around to collect some more substantial and dependable information.
Let’s start with the fact that they may be behind , that is somewhat factual in that when they first talked about the redevelopment it was “assumed” by many that the Freudenberg building was going to be an easy marketable piece but in fact had to be redeveloped and that put them off schedule.
Let’s also remember that in April of this year the Patrick Administration announced with Chancellor Marty Meehan at a highly publicized press conference the following (reported by the SUN): Gov. Deval Patrick joined UMass Lowell, state and city officials at 110 Canal St. on Thursday to announce a new UMass Lowell innovation center will occupy two floors of the downtown building, with the hope that the center will spur the next wave of business innovation in the city and region.
Patrick also announced that the state is investing an additional $1 million to help complete the construction of the 55,000 square foot commercial building.
Now it appears the Murphy Administration and apparently Councilor Belanger and some other Councilors are supporting an effort by Manager Murphy, trying to force UML OUT of 110 Canal Place after the previous Administration, UML, Trinity Financial and the State of MA. worked so hard to make the UML expansion happen there.
That effort to force out UML to another building is being done on behalf of a private business who according to rumors floating in the bubble, doesn’t want to lease the entire building, they want to buy it at a loss for Trinity Financial!
To have any City Official in favor of forcing a PRIVATE DEVELOPER who has put many millions of their own dollars, that of investors (Met Life has invested over $42 Million in the Appleton Mills phrase), and State Money to change plans in an effort to save a few jobs in the City for a Private Company and political capital is in my opinion, wrong, unfair and borders on attempted extortion.
Lowell doesn’t want to lose any businesses, that is understandable. However trying to force UML to move after the Governor and the State have invested MILLIONS of Dollars with support from the State Delegation is a slap in the face to the State, Governor, Umass Lowell, Senator Donahue and Marty Meehan and unfair to Trinity who seems to be doing the best they can in an economy that has been so sluggish that even Councilor Belanger had to close his business and try to restart it under a new name.
To publicly accuse Trinity Financial of not working with a private business who wants Trinity to take a loss, wants the State and UMASS Lowell to change their plans after the State invested in this building and site (and from what I hear, this particular business has been dragging their feet on moving for over a year) is another case of an inexperienced Councilor shooting off his mouth before getting all the facts or purposely ignoring the facts for political gain.
If Manager Murphy is really attempting to move UML and forcing Trinity to take a loss or applying pressure to do something on behalf of saving a few jobs, he is not only wrong but could be jeopardizing future State investments in the City and working with UML on the downtown and other projects.
How does it look when the Governor holds a press conference in April and the City Manager 5 months later is trying to get the State to move their investment for a private company?
Maybe Councilor Belanger wanted people to agree with him like I initially did, he sounds good until you do the homework and find out that just like his statement on moving the High School to the Common, Councilor Belanger either doesn’t have or doesn’t share all of the facts for the public to be truly aware of the entire story.
I’ve attached Trinity’s Letter to the Citizens of Lowell from the Lowell Sun published earlier this year, the last time Councilors attacked them. They did not respond to my email request for comment regarding this latest issue but the open letter from February certainly gives a great overview of their plans.