Published May 22, 2019
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — MarketStreet Lynnfield was awarded a tax abatement totaling $6 million last October.
According to a letter from attorney John M. Lynch from the law firm Lynch, DeSimone and Nylen, LLP, the Board of Assessors and MarketStreet reached an abatement agreement for fiscal year 2018. Lynch stated that MarketStreet’s assessed value was $231,450,400 in FY18. He said the outdoor mall’s final value equaled $225,540,400, representing a valuation abatement totaling $6 million. Lynch stated the tax rate was $17.08 per thousand valuation and MarketStreet received a $102,480 refund.
In an interview with the Villager, Assessing Manager Ray Boly said MarketStreet’s owners, National Development and WS Development, have disputed the mall’s assessed value since 2014. He said the MarketStreet filed for abatements for FY17, FY18 and FY19, and the Board of Assessors denied those requests. As a result, MarketStreet appealed the abatements to the state’s Appellate Tax Board (ATB).
“On April 8, 2014, the Board of Assessors met with and interviewed two highly qualified appraisal expert candidates,” said Boly. “On April 22, 2014, the Board of Assessors voted unanimously to retain Emmet Logue, MAI, CRE, of Hunneman Boston to determine the MarketStreet value as of Jan. 1, 2014 for the corresponding FY15 assessed value. MarketStreet ownership disputed the FY15 assessed value. However, they were unable to file an abatement for FY15, as they had refused to submit an income and expense statement as mandated by state law.”
After the Board of Assessors denied MarketStreet’s abatement requests for FY16, FY17 and FY18, Boly said MarketStreet filed appeals with the ATB.
“Given the potential liability to the town, the board funded the overlay account accordingly,” said Boly. “In 2017, MarketStreet ownership retained an attorney who specializes in ATB cases as well as their own appraisal expert.”
During the summer of 2017, Boly said MarketStreet was “looking for a reduction in assessed values for all three years, exceeding $49 million plus and equaling an abatement of property taxes in the amount of $866,000 plus, with an additional $88,000 plus statutory interest.”
“The total liability at that time for the town exceeded $954,000 plus,” said Boly. “If this had gone to trial, in addition to the potential liability of $954,000, the anticipated additional legal and expert fees would have exceeded $50,000.”
Boly noted the Board of Assessors and MarketStreet were unable to reach an agreement on the assessed value for four years. As a result, the board retained Lynch, who specializes in ATB cases.
“Finally, after multiple discussions and proposals, MarketStreet withdrew the FY16 and FY17 appeals for no consideration,” said Boly. “Furthermore, they agreed not to file an abatement in FY19. FY18 was abated for $6 million in value, resulting in the tax rebate of $102,480. It was further agreed that this would be paid without statutory interest.”
Lynch noted in his letter that MarketStreet agreed to “waive its right to file an application for abatement and tax appeal for fiscal year 2019 provided that the actual tax bill contains an assessed value no greater than $231,540,400 and that the commercial, industrial and personal property tax shift in the town of Lynnfield does not exceed 1.25.”
“Finally, for fiscal year 2020, it is the assessors’ present intent to assess (MarketStreet) based upon known facts and available information at a value of $238 million, and value to be inclusive of all new construction encompassing the new Lahey building at the site,” Lynch stated. “Further, it is understood that further no new construction, excluding tenant improvements, is planned at the property between the date of this agreement and June 30, 2019. Provided there are no new additions to the property through June 30, 2019, excluding tenant improvements and completion of the Lahey building, the assessors shall issue a letter to (MarketStreet) between July 1, 2019 and July 15, 2019 indicating that the fiscal year 2020 assessed value for the property shall be $238 million.”
While MarketStreet did not file for an abatement for FY19, WS Development Executive Vice President Tom DeSimone and Kings Bowl co-owner Patrick Lyons both criticized the tax rate shift proposed by the Board of Assessors and supported by the Board of Selectmen during last November’s tax classification hearing.
Board of Assessors Chairman Don Garrity said Boly and the board “diligently worked the case” over the course of the four-year dispute.
“MarketStreet received a reasonable abatement for one of the four years based on our appraising expert,” said Garrity.