Did you receive a postcard?
Stop the Union Square Revitalization Plan!
Tell Mayor Curtatone and Somerville’s Board of Alderman that demolishing thriving businesses with empty promises that new development will raise tax revenue for the city is an unconscionable abuse of eminent domain!
What I’m fighting for
My name is Aliki Pishev. I’m a social worker and have advocated on behalf of my clients for 28 years. I am also a cancer survivor and single mother of 3, two of which are in college, and I depend on the income of my property at 47 Webster Avenue to support my family.
This property has been in my family for over 40 years and I recently invested much of my savings to fully renovate it enabling two businesses to thrive. Never did I imagine that I would be in a situation like this— where I would have to go up against the city government to fight for justice, not in the United States!
With the city’s Revitalization Plan, my property is one of many targeted for seizure in the next phase. I have learned that the city has already taken other people’s property without proper notice and have offered them far less than reasonable amounts. They have undervalued my property in their plans and tried to convince me that I’m better off selling than fighting for my property. This constant threat and intimidation to seize our properties is unacceptable.
Using eminent domain as an excuse to seize our properties when the real agenda is to build luxury condos and high end retail is unconscionable. The magnitude and scope of this plan is beyond what people really understand— it would allow the city to bulldoze 280 properties in a 117 acre area in Somerville. The level of misinformation is astounding.
I am fighting for my constitutional rights as a property owner. This is a clear abuse of power and I refuse to be intimidated. The truth needs to come out and the public needs to be aware of what is really going on. If they can take my property, then no one’s property in Somerville is safe.
In October 2012, Somerville’s Board of Alderman approved the Union Square Revitalization Plan. The acceptance of this plan established a “project area” encompassing 279 properties, the vast majority of which are considered either “good” or “satisfactory” by the city’s own property status reports. However, because the city determined that a “satisfactory” property should also fall under the vague and broad definition of blight, the entire area has been deemed blighted. This means that any property in the project area delineated in the Union Square Revitalization Plan could be threatened by the city with condemnation and even eminent domain.
So far, the city is in the process of acquiring 34 of these properties, and it has already led to the taking and destruction of several properties located right in the heart of Union Square— an area known as “phase 1.”
But the destruction is far from over.
Phase 2 would capture all of the remaining properties listed in the plan as acquisition parcels. Unlike phase 1, the properties targeted in these phases have no impact on the creation of a new train station whatsoever, and are being pursued by the city purely for mixed-use redevelopment. This means that the city is aiming to destroy thriving businesses to replace them with new stores and apartment builds for the mere chance that they would generate more tax revenue.
Though the plan has not authorized any funds for the taking of the properties listed in phase 2, that has not stopped the developer from harassing us and urging us to sell their land for well below the market price. When the black cloud of eminent domain is approaching, property values begin to plummet and it is more difficult to find tenants or lessees. But this is not about money for us. This is about fighting for what we have worked our whole lives to own, and standing up for what is right.
Please sign our petition to support our rights to our property, and tell Mayor Cortatone and the board of alderman that what they are doing is wrong.