BRA orders 2nd land appraisal for controversial condo project

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The Boston Redevelopment Authority has ordered a second appraisal of a small, city-owned parcel that is key to the development of a controversial condo tower proposed in the Seaport.

Developer Jon Cronin wants to buy 3,000 square feet of city-owned sidewalk on Seaport Boulevard and hired an appraiser at the city's request that valued the land at $55,000. Cronin plans to build a $260 million luxury condo project on the site of two waterfront bars he owns — Whiskey Priest and the Atlantic Beer Garden.

The city-owned property is currently leased to Cronin, which he uses as a patio for one of the bars.


The BRA has agreed to sell the land to Cronin but not yet settled on a price, which will be determined largely by the appraisals.

In April, Cronin hired real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, which compared the site to other unbuildable parcels in neighborhoods such as Roxbury and Dorchester to come up with a value of $55,000. The property's value may also be limited by rules that say it can only be sold to a neighboring property owner and a power line that runs beneath one corner of it.

Still, after some real estate experts said that seemed low in a neighborhood where development sites routinely sell for several times as much, the BRA decided to conduct its own appraisal of its own.

"If you had five reputable, professional, appraisers look at the same site, you'd come back with five values," said BRA director Brian Golden. "We're hoping that two data points help us come up with a fair price."

Cronin spokesman Rob Gray said the second appraisal was "part of the process. We'll continue to follow the process as before."

The project has come under fire from the Conservation Law Foundation over concerns that it would further block off about the waterfront from the public. CLF has threatened to fight state environmental approvals that are key to the development.


Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.