Clear Channel today sued the New York-based company that runs leases inside South Station, demanding it be freed from paying a minimum of $500,000 a year for the right to hoist banners and signs inside a station with so many sight lines now obscured by construction of a 51-story office, residential and hotel tower.
In a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston, Clear Channel says it owes Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. substantially less than that amount under a clause in its contract that the requirement to make that minimum annual payment "is suspended until such obstructions are removed," something it says might not happen until completion of the project in 2026.
Clear Channel alleges that:
Since January 27, 2021, many of Clear Channel’s advertising locations in South Station have been obscured, blocked entirely, or otherwise materially adversely affected by construction and renovation activity related to the South Station Air Rights Project, a planned multi-year expansion of South Station including a renovated rail and bus platform and a new, 51-story mixed-use tower atop the landmark station.
As an example, Clear Channel points to the "Exterior Window Spectacular, which formerly consisted of a series of large windows that riders getting off trains couldn't help but notice as they entered the station:
The Exterior Window Spectacular is one of the most desirable advertising locations, not just in South Station, but in the entire region, because it is conspicuously visible to the millions of passengers who commute through the South Station each month. Prior to construction, the Exterior Window Spectacular generated over $400,000 in annual revenue, or more than 16% of Clear Channel's total annual revenue at South Station. ...
Most of this display has been blocked off since January 27, 2021, and since at least March 2021, 80% of this valuable advertising property has been completely covered up by scaffolding, barriers, and other construction equipment erected as part of the South Station Air Rights Project. Today, four of the five sections (i.e., 64 out of 80 panels) of the Exterior Window Spectacular are entirely blocked off; the one remaining section cannot be seen from the east side of the train platform due to the construction zone and is in a state of construction- related disrepair. Until recently, even that one remaining section of the display was covered by a plexiglass barrier erected as part of the construction. While that plexiglass barrier has since been removed, exposed wires and loose insulation above and in front of the display continue to diminish the visibility and attractiveness of the display; AAC has disregarded Clear Channel's repeated requests to fix these issues.
Clear Channel says it has been unable to find anybody willing to pay premium, or any, rates to advertise on the space since construction began in January, 2021.
The company wants a judge to order Ashkenazy, which also handles leasing at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, to stop pestering Clear Channel about payments until all the ad spaces are once again clear.
Complete complaint (1.6M PDF).