Faneuil Hall Marketplace operator disputes city’s claim

Says tenants have paid no rent since April

The operator of Faneuil Hall Marketplace is disputing the city of Boston’s claim that it has failed to provide financial relief to its local merchants.

The head of the Boston Planning & Development Agency last week threatened to evict the operator, the New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., for failing to make a $2.1 million payment to the city, tying the hardball move to the company’s failure to “provide the necessary financial relief to support the Faneuil Hall merchants.”

Chris Santarelli, an Ashkenazy spokesman, said the city’s claim is untrue because the company has not collected rent from local merchants at the marketplace since April.

“As a result of this continued stewardship, the merchants have been able to open for business,” Santarelli said in a statement. “The narrative put forward by some regarding the management of Faneuil Hall Marketplace since the start of the pandemic is deeply flawed and disappointing. We have been negotiating with the city in good faith to further assist tenants and were taken by surprise by the city’s latest position.  We are working with the city to resolve this matter expeditiously.”

Linda DeMarco, the president of the marketplace merchants association, confirmed that most of the merchants have paid no rent since April. She said Ashkenazy agreed to defer the rent for April, May, and June, and has collected nothing since. But she said the precise terms of the rental arrangement have not been put in writing.

Ashkenazy’s comment suggested the company may be pushing the city to forgive the money the firm owes the city in return for the Ashkenhazy forgiving the rent owed it by the tenants.

Brian Golden, the head of the Boston Planning & Development Agency, declined to comment.

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Golden sent a letter to Ashkenazy last week informing the company that it is in default for failing to make two quarterly payments totaling $2.1 million required under a payment-in-lieu-of taxes agreement with the city and for having a $110,000 contractor lien on the property.  Ashkenazy has 10 days to make the payment and 30 days to get rid of the lien.

Under the terms of a 99-year lease that expires in 55 years, Ashkenazy pockets all the rent paid by the marketplace tenants.  In return, the company makes an annual payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to the city of Boston, which this year amounts to $4.2 million.  It also pays the Boston Planning & Development Agency the nominal sum of $10 a year in rent.