Update 1/25/2001 - Beacon Capital Partners has filed a Project Notification Form (PNF) proposing construction of a 1.7 million square foot office complex adjacent to Fort Point Place. Click here for more...

For background on this issue regarding Fort Point Place development, click here to read a Boston Globe article about Gillette's (August 1999) lawsuit and (May 2000) settlement with Beacon Capital.


In 1999, SAND held community meetings and advocated for the development for Fort Point Place, with a stated expectation that new condo owners would be inclined to participate in the emergence of a mixed-use urban neigborhood. As disclosed in today's Boston Globe (see below), Fort Point Place developer Beacon Capital Partners reached an agreement with Gillette Co. which included provisions in the condo's master deed to place legal restrictions on community participation by condo owners.

Regarding the future development of 800,000 square feet of property adjacent to Fort Point Place recently purchased by Beacon Capital Partners on Midway and A Street, the Fort Point Place master deed states:

"Accordingly, the Condominium Trustees, Unit Owners and their successors and assigns and other legal representatives hereby: (i) agree that they will not seek, in any federal, state, regional or local legislative, executive, administrative or regulatory proceeding or other setting to oppose, restrict, reduce or eliminate any proposed use of the Midway Property as described above; (ii) indemnify the Midway Street Owners against all loss, damage or other impacts suffered by reason of a violation of Clause (i) of this paragraph, including costs of enforcing the obligations set forth in Clause (i)..." (clause continues).

The parcels defined by this restrictive clause were recently in the news because of an ongoing dialog between Beacon Capital Partners and the Fort Point arts community. (click here to read).

In additional sections of the master deed, the Fort Point Place condo association is further restricted from involvement in future development of the "Gillette District" -- an area as defined in the agreement is bound by Summer Street, West Second Street, the Haul Road and the Fort Point Channel (far beyond Gillette and Beacon holdings in Fort Point).

In its comment letter of June 1999, SAND wrote to the BRA, "Future tenants of Fort Point Place will help engender community ideals for the area, regard for open space and area amenities, and the emergence of small businesses." With the restrictions placed on the Fort Point Place master deed, Gillette and Beacon Capital Partners have moved to eliminate future tenants from any open discussion of community ideals.

SAND Comment Letter to BRA of 6/10/99
SAND Comment Letter to Zoning Board of Appeals of 7/12/99

This story ran on page B01 of the Boston Globe on 8/28/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

Clause protects Gillette from suits
At Fort Point , concerns voiced for condo owners

By Steven Wilmsen, Globe Staff, 8/28/2000

Gillette Co. wants a certain kind of neighbor in the tony warehouse lofts being sold across Fort Point Channel from the razor giant's 33-acre plant.

Quiet ones. The kind who won't complain when trucks rattle windows in the dead of night or construction crews pound through the pavement.

Gillette wants that kind of neighbors so badly, it now has an unusual legal agreement to make sure it gets them.

Buyers of the condos at Fort Point Place will find it buried in documents they receive at closing. A series of restrictions laid out in the master deed prevents the condominum association - and possibly individual owners - from suing or bringing complaints to the government in any ''setting'' over industrial or commercial activities in the area. And it's not just existing activities Gillette wants to protect, but also any ''potential use'' that might arise in the future.

The clause has dumbfounded civil rights lawyers, urban planners, and waterfront district residents who recently discovered it. By blocking avenues such as suing or going to city councilors with complaints, the restriction undercuts a fundamental right, they said.

''It's gagging a neighborhood, is what it comes down to,'' said Seth Kaplan, a senior lawyer for the Conservation Law Foundation. ''It's staggering. On the most monumental level, it's a bad idea. It's not something that creates a healthy neighborhood. When you read the language of this thing, you wonder if they'd even be able to send a letter to the mayor.''

The restriction came out of a lawsuit Gillette brought against Fort Point Place developers - Beacon Capital Partners - last year threatening to shut down the development. Gillette dropped the suit in May only after Beacon Capital agreed to notify purchasers that they would be living in an industrial area, where 600 trucks a week embark from Gillette's 33-acre plant.

''The whole purpose is that we want to make very clear to anybody who buys one of these places that they are in an industrial zone,'' said Eric Kraus, a Gillette spokesman. ''Gillette has been in that location for more than a century. We are adamant that it be known that this is an industrial area with all the incumbent noise and truck traffic. We didn't want anybody to come back later and say they didn't know that.''

But the restriction is much more than a notification, residents of the area say.

''It goes quite a good deal beyond that,'' said Jon Seward, an architect and community activist living in the neighborhood. ''It's an outrageous prior restraint. It seems like a cowardly act and a horrible way to be a neighbor.''

Seward and other residents of the area, which for years has been a gritty enclave of artists and urban pioneers, say they don't mind the truck traffic and industrial detritus that give the neighborhood ''flavor.''

''But just because I have no objection to the way Gillette has operated in the past, doesn't mean I'm going to like what they do in the future,'' Seward said. ''There has to be a free exchange of ideas, and taking away the tools for that is unjust.''

Beacon Capital said the clause restricts only the Fort Point Condominuim Trust, not individual condominium owners.

''Beacon is comfortable with the terms of the agreement,'' said Beacon Capital spokesman Alex McCallum, who added that some 50 units are under contract after being put up for sale earlier this month. ''We've had no complaints.''

But a lawyer who reviewed the document for the Globe said courts could interpret the language in the master deed as a limit on owners' ability to sue or complain to government authorities over a broad range of issues.

''It could be interpreted in court to prevent individual owners from bringing an action,'' said Jerold Kayden, a lawyer and associate professor of urban planning at Harvard Graduate School of Design. ''It takes a very substantial stick away that homeowners and neighbors usually enjoy. That's a very big thing to give away.''

The language bars any attempt to reduce industrial or commercial activity in the area through any executive or legislative action. Kayden and other lawyers said they are not sure the agreement, which they called rare, could withstand a legal challenge.

Either way, the restrictions have struck a chord among residents of the once nearly deserted waterfront district, which Boston's building boom is rapidly transforming into a burgeoning mini city of new condos, hotels, and office high rises.

''It's a way of discouraging citizen participation,'' said Valerie Burns, who has lived in the neighborhood for years. ''This is an area of the city where there's going to be more housing development in the next five years than anywhere else in the city. If this becomes a trend here, it means that people who are buying homes are being singled out to have less participation in the public process while corporate interests get more.''

This story ran on page B01 of the Boston Globe on 8/28/2000.

© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.

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