BOSTON-Millennium Partners has signed a lease agreement with the city to develop Hayward Place, a city-owned parking lot that is considered a piece of prime real estate. The property is located in what was once called the combat zone due to the proliferation of bars and adult shops in the area but is in the process of being revitalized.

At the time that Millennium won the rights to redevelop the parcel, there was some opposition because the New York-based developer’s plan involved only office space while the other proposals included a residential component. The lease that the developer signed with the city is courting controversy once again because of a provision which gives Millennium ten years to start building.

Meredith Baumann, a spokesperson for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, tells that “we fully expect [Millennium] will begin work well in advance of [ten years.]“

Baumann points out that in order for Millennium to get financing for the project, it needed a longer term lease. “They needed to prove to financiers that they would be the developers of the project,” she says.

Baumann notes that the lease will terminate upon commencement of construction. “We’ll hand over the title when they start. They will not sit on this,” she emphasizes in response to local published reports which indicate that could happen with this project. “The BRA will be working with the developer and we expect to start construction under a ‘reasonable’ amount of time.”

Environmental site preparations have begun on the property and Baumann says that it’s hard to put a time limit on the permitting process because there is “no telling what will come up.” She points to the Columbus Center project being built over the Massachusetts Turnpike which ended up having more than 100 public meetings. “No one could foresee how long the community process would take.”

Millennium has already paid $13 million to the city which will go to developing the Quincy Upper School. The developer still owes another $10 million which it will pay upon commencement of the project.

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