When automotive magnate Herb Chambers sold off his property at 75 Morrissey Boulevard last month, it did not come as a huge surprise. His latest plan to build a hulking Jaguar-Land Rover dealership on the site landed with a thud among civic leaders who viewed the design, which included a tunnel through the middle of the building to accommodate a future roadway.
Chambers telegraphed that if he could not build his desired dealership, he’d probably sell the site. There was a general presumption that the likely buyer would be Center Court— the same outfit that had a deal in place to buy the now-empty Boston Globe campus at 135 Morrissey Blvd., right next to Chambers’ parcel.
But in May, the Globe’s ownership acknowledged that the deal to sell to Center Court— a transaction reportedly valued at more than $80 million— had collapsed.
When the Reporter later uncovered that a subsidiary of Center Court had gone ahead and bought Chambers out for $14.5 million on June 27, the story raised a few eyebrows— including those of Herb Chambers.
“I was surprised that they closed on the property,” Chambers told the Reporter this week. “I thought that our deal would not happen. What their plans are next, I have no idea.”
Sean Keohan, the Globe’s chief operating officer, signaled to the Reporter last month that a new deal to sell its property could be imminent. “We’re in the middle of a process right now, and we hope to be under agreement shortly,” Keohan said, adding that “multiple parties” were in the mix.
Chambers told the Reporter that he is not— and was never— interested in buying the 16.5-acre Globe campus. But he acknowledged that the uneven “headwinds” created by the chaotic nature of affairs next door definitely hampered his plans. “We were somewhat held captive because of the sale of the Globe property,” he said, expressing regret that he could not fulfill his vision for building a dealership on the former WLVI-TV56 site, a property that held “a very strong personal interest” for the Dorchester born-and-bred auto magnate.
“That was not my first choice,” Chambers said of selling the land. “I wanted to build the dealership and I was looking to put more money in. I thought it would have been terrific.”
He is now apprehensive about trying to site another dealership in this part of the city, and is instead looking to acquire land near the site of the casino project in Medford. “It puts me into a bad situation with the [auto] manufacturers when it delays their plans,” he said.