Boston Mayor Wants Assurances From Developers

Could this be a new trend in the works? Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wants to require developers of large projects to prove they have financing in place before they're allowed to move ahead with projects. Apparently this is being triggered by two high-cost projects that have run into financing problems after construction already began. Menino wants to avoid any other eyesores on his city's landscape.

His call follows financial problems for two high-profile developments that have already begun construction in Boston: the $650 million redevelopment of the Filene's building in Downtown Crossing and the $800 million Columbus Center complex over the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Menino is having city planners devise a regulation that would delay approvals for developers who cannot show adequate financial backing to proceed with construction. The regulation is an attempt to prevent city streets from being at the mercy of credit markets that can suddenly stall or upend projects.

"We already have two or three holes in our landscape; we don't want any more," said Menino. "We don't want to stifle development, but we don't want developers to take advantage of the city."

The mayor spoke yesterday after the Globe reported that the developers of the 38-story commercial and residential tower on the former Filene's property have been unable to raise financing because credit markets have severely tightened in the wake of the subprime mortgage debacle.

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