Filene’s project gets $7.8 million city tax break

Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s administration has agreed to give a $7.8 million tax break to help with the $630 million redevelopment of the former Filene’s property into a towering complex of offices, stores and luxury homes.

The tax incentives will be spread over a 13-year period and will be passed along to retail and office tenants who agree to open on the property. A spokeswoman for Menino said the money will not directly benefit the developer or the eventual owners of luxury condominiums on the property.

“In order to attract premier office and retail tenants, this level of tax certainty is needed for the first few years of the project,” said the spokeswoman Susan Elsbree. “Many projects receive 30- and 40-year tax agreements, so this is very modest by comparison.”

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The agreement will be presented to the BRA’s board directors for approval at a Sept. 26 meeting. Executives with Millennium could not be immediately reached for comment.

The tax deal represents a reversal in Menino’s stance on incentives for the Filene’s project, as he had refused to give help to a prior developer who halted work on the property during the economic downturn. It also creates a potentially awkward contrast for a mayor well known for favoring a handful of successful developers.

Just three years ago, Menino angrily refused to provide tax incentives to former Filene’s developer Vornado Realty Trust of New York. Vornado’s chief executive, Steven Roth, had suggested publicly that allowing a property to become blighted could help extract tax concessions from the city. At the time, work on the Filene’s property was stalled due to financial problems, leaving a giant construction crater at the city’s core.

The tax deal will help with a new version of the development being led by Millennium Partners, another New York firm that is scheduled to formally break ground on its project Tuesday.

Millennium will restore the original 1912 Filene’s store into an office and retail complex, and build a 625-foot skyscraper next to it with additional stores and more than 500 luxury condominiums.

Elsbree said that even with the tax break, the project will generate nearly $60 million in new property for the city during the 13-year period.