, Salem, MA


November 16, 2013

Letter: Black Cow lease a bad deal for the city

To the editor:

On Monday, City Council will vote on a Black Cow lease. We do not oppose redevelopment of the waterfront, but this lease is a bad deal for Beverly.

The proposed rent is only $30,000 a year, or $2,500 a month, which is less than a third of what the Green Papaya restaurant on Cabot Street is paying. For a prime one-acre parcel the city invested more than $4 million in! Since the original bid was accepted, the mayor has thrown in a number of “freebies” for the Black Cow, including a free liquor license, worth roughly $80,000. The restaurant is 50 percent (2,200 feet) larger than the one in the bid and the lease permits the Black Cow to sublease 2,010 square feet. This could pay for the entire $30,000 per year. Further, the lease obligates Beverly to provide, for 40 years, a dedicated on-site security person during summer months. This will likely be detail work, at overtime rates at a cost of more than $15,000 per year. Where else does Beverly pay for a dedicated security person for a private business? The lease is for the entire parcel, but the Black Cow is taxed only on far less than half of the property. The mayor says this lease will generate more than $100,000, but he is including revenue from parking meters and tickets, which the city could get anyway, and not including the expenses of meters, security person, etc.?

The city can do so much better. One of my customers owns Dunkin’ Donuts shops. He called the proposed Black Cow rent “laughable” and said he pays $225,000 a year rent for some of his stores. The city claims that we should be lucky to have the Black Cow since they were the only bidder on the request for proposal. However, the request for proposal was issued seven years ago, before the city invested $2 million in the site, threw in a liquor license, increased the size by 50 percent, provided lease-free space, free security, vehicle access over Ferryway Landing, etc. The property is much more attractive today.

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