Boston staves off demolition of two 19th-century townhouses in Maverick Square

The Boston Preservation Alliance reports the Boston Landmark Commission tonight ordered a developer to hold off on tearing down two adjacent townhouses on Maverick Street built in the 1870s, for at least two years. East Boston residents and preservationists had teamed up to try to save them from being replaced with yet another building that looks like every other building put up over the past couple years.

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not as good as flat-out saying, "no - never"

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but better than nothing. keep resisting the developer's (incredibly lame, fwiw) plans. im the furthest thing from a NIMBY, but you don't tear down 19th century brickwork townhouses for an uninspired, characterless, pre-fab retail box.

East Boston Development

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I would rather see life at the corner. New retailers. Activity. Now the site will just sit for 2 years. Ughh.

Looks like everything

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Looks like everything surrounding it has already been torn down and replaced with plain boxes. Why should this parcel be any different?

Because all the parcels

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Because all the parcels around it haven't been torn down and replaced with plain boxes. And just because the building has neighbors that were instead built in the early 20th century when cheaper materials were en vogue, doesn't mean you should just say "fuck it" and tear down one of the last remaining examples of 19th century brickwork. Why should structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing buildings be torn down just to put a few extra bucks in some out-of-town developer's pockets?

What is it about this hot take culture where people give their 2¢ on topics they have zero actual insight on? You looked at a Google Maps pic for 10 seconds and suddenly you're an expert.

It’s not the last example of

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It’s not the last example of this brick work anywhere in the city, it’s just one of the few remaining in this one neighborhood.

And I would argue that the need to allow more people to live within walking distance to the train is far more important than preserving every example of old architecture.

Historic preservation should be about preserving key examples from an architectural period, not locking older neighborhoods’ housing stock in amber.

"It’s not the last example of

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"It’s not the last example of this brick work anywhere in the city"

Where did I say that? This is about Maverick Square and East Boston, not the entire city.

"And I would argue that the need to allow more people to live within walking distance to the train is far more important than preserving every example of old architecture"

And again, with the hot take shit, you are stating complete falsehoods for the hell of it. How on earth does removing 4 housing units and replacing them with zero housing units allow more people to live within walking distance of the train?

When's the last time

you were in East Boston, or paid attention to anything happening there?

And I would argue that the need to allow more people to live within walking distance to the train is far more important than preserving every example of old architecture.

I promise you, this is not locking this area's housing stock.

The waterfront has gone from completely flat to a small neighborhood in its own right over the last few years, there's a massive new building next to the Jeffries Point fire station, and tons of new multi-unit construction planned for or already going up on Maverick and even smaller streets like Everett. There is also a large project planned for the former funeral home right around the corner from the townhouses in question (possibly part of the same project?).

Hundreds, if not well over a thousand units within walking distance to the train have gone up, or will, in an area that was already very dense to begin with, and it's actually having some negative effects on the area. Maverick Station was already somewhat of a chokepoint during rush hour between being the last stop before the city, commuters parking at Wonderland, and being a bus hub, and it has gotten significantly worse in the past year.

Many of these developers simply see a location, not a neighborhood. They couldn't possibly care less about the people, culture, or history there, and would rather tout location than community. I just feel so bad for them being told no. So bad. /eyeroll

cmon

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"Why should structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing buildings be torn down just to put a few extra bucks in some out-of-town developer's pockets?"

Because they paid for the property and there was no historic designation on the building. And who cares if they aren't from Boston, why should that matter? The nativism here is ridiculous. Just because you or I live in Boston does not mean we own any part or aspect of the city anymore than anyone else does.

And seriously, I am so sick of people complaining about developer's making a profit, THAT IS THEIR BUSINESS.

Building in cities is not, nor should it be forced to be, some charitable act where everyone in the community gets what they want. It is a business, and if developers are not allowed to make a profit then nothing will ever get built. But then again that is what most people want.

If these buildings are so prominent or historically relevant, why weren't people clamoring to protect them before this? And don't tell me I don't get it, I lived around the corner on Bremen St for a long time. Simply saying "Well everything else has been torn down" does not make these worth historic designation.

And your comment about the traffic/congestion at Maverick belies your real concerns, which are frankly ridiculous given that Maverick and the Blue line are two of the best stations/lines in Boston period, they are still not that bad compared to many other neighborhood stations, and it is 2 stops away from Downtown Boston. It should be built to a greater density.

The zoning rules set what

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The zoning rules set what developers can build. They can be changed as needed to for the benefit or neighborhoods or preserve buildings.

nope

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Zoning rules what anyone can build, not just developers, and no, projects can apply for a variance, but zoning is not changed ad hoc per project per parcel.

Amen

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Amen

This is great, but

I'm curious as to why only 2 years? Are these going to somehow be less historic then?

2 years is a long time to look for precedent, especially in this town. Or even more likely, get friendly with Marty.

My gut feeling

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The Landmark Commission probably thinks that there might be a case to be made, but they haven't quite heard it yet. That gives the preservation crowd 2 years to find some kind of justification for keeping the buildings from being torn down. Of course, if they cannot find anything historic about the townhouses, the 2 years will come and the owner of the property will be free to do what they want with it.

From Twitter

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The answer from Twitter:
RosanneAFoley‏
@BosLandmarksDir
3h3 hours ago
More
Hi Jocelyn - the two-year moratorium is in response to the Article 85 violation. The buildings were also accepted by the Commission as pending Landmarks which gives BLC review of proposed changes. This means protection is now in place.

Second reply here:
https://twitter.com/BOSPreservation/status/930607690946105347

What was violation of owner ?

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Classic government overreach. This is what happens when government is unchecked. My friend told me the violation was for interior asbestos removal. How does that equal a violation of demolition ?

Your friend is again Ill

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Your friend is again Ill informed. Luckily I have taken photographic evidence of complete disregard by the developers. How about removing flashing from chimneys leaving them almost collapsing. Or removing windows? Or demolishing parts of the interior. The asbestos removal was just one small part, but they just threw that material in a box truck. Again, how about before making assumptions you get the facts. Check out 311 complaints and isd.

Meg - you sound like you’re

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Meg - you sound like you’re reading from an angry neighbor script. My friend is pretty well connected at BPDA and he told me no windows were removed at buildings being discussed for landmark. Perhaps you should confirm your facts. He also said that a small amount of flashing was removed. Really ? Flashing removed would cause a chimney to fall down ? That chimney must have been in pretty rough shape for flashing to be holding it up. The asbestos removal apparently was done with all nec permits and by a qualified 3rd party licensed for work. BPDA not happy with BLC. And since when does interior asbestos removal equal building demolition. I walk by the site every day when I go to work and I am tired of vacant buildings. Give it a rest.

So board them up, and leave

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So board them up, and leave them dormant for 2 years. Then wait a few more years while they go to ruin and eventually the neighborhood will lead a petition drive to save themselves from the scourge of these two abandoned properties and demand they be sold or developed into a community arts center.

The true irony being that

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The true irony being that these buildings were, themselves, the generic, copycat, identical row house exactly like everything else in the area of their day.

Yes/No

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Yes, these buildings were copycats in their day.

These are part of the historical fabric of East Boston. There are many other buildings of various ages replicating their aesthetic reflected down the rest of the street (during many different eras).

Many families who settled in Eastie and raised a generation or two sold their property, whether people like it or not (now).This is what happens when people sell things. This is also what happens when people move out and new people move in.

Did you really

just suggest trying to buy property from a developer in East Boston, let alone one 30 seconds from a T stop and minutes from either tunnel? In 2017? The only organization with the resources (read: power) needed to even come close to pulling something like this off in Eastie would be MassPort.

The fact that we ask people

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The fact that we ask people to sit on a property for 2 years (making mortgage payments the whole time), and then spend ANOTHER year getting zoning variances (again, making mortgage payments the whole time) might have something to do with that...

i know its tough pitying a developer

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I understand the desire to save them because, while not being the most historic or architecturally prominent, much of historic East Boston has been replaced with cheap and ugly construction and these are two of the nicer buildings on that stretch of Maverick.

But I also do pity the developer who bought this property that had no absolutely no historic designation, payed for design services, lawyer fees, etc, then only later had the community revolt because the buildings are slightly older and they feel like the project is a microcosm for losing their community and identity to bland development and gentrification.

Having lived around the corner on Bremen St for years, these are pretty unremarkable, not to mention they aren't really in great shape. The ground level fenestration is awful for retail, hence the constant turnover in tenants besides the salon, nor are they raised or setback enough to make residential ground floor units comfortable. They do nothing for the ground level pedestrian, nor do they provide much density at only 3 stories.

Are they really "sitting on the property"?

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I mean, they can rent the units out while this whole thing is playing out. I would really doubt that they could not get tenants in even with the understanding that the property might get torn down in 2 to 3 years. Sure, this might not be the maximization of return they might want, but the only way they'd be losing money in this time is if they really keep it vacant out of spite- a bad business move.

And they probably will if

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And they probably will if this ends up taking a long time but a) Evicting residents is difficult and bad for public relations, especially if you plan to seek further approvals for a project in that space and b) The amount they paid for the parcel (given their plans, and thus what can plausibly be built there) probably dwarfs the possible rents in such an obsolete structure.

East Boston Landmark Decision

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I heard 2 year BLC moratorium was intended to punish owner for removal of asbestos inside building. They called that demolishing the building. Classic case of government overreach. Something smells here.

East Boston has quite a few

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East Boston has quite a few buildings that are worth saving most of them on Meridian street and a large portion is on Eagle hill built from 1750s to 1870s and areas around webster street, the rest of the homes were built in the late 1890's by eastern and western European immigrants.
If this is going to be a trend where homes built in the 1890s will stop from being torn down by fake people who all of a sudden have an interest in Easties architectural appeal, it will be problematic for developers.

Fake people? How about

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Fake people? How about community residents all with degrees in design/ development/ project management etc. who have been here before the developers read it was cool and actually care about what happens in the neighborhood. Who own business, live and raise their children here.

You have fake people The

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You have fake people The “East Boston wanna be yuppies” lol, they came out of nowhere and who are now all of a sudden concerned about neighborhood issues.
But 10 or 25 years ago some of these fake people and their families got the hell out of Eastie because it was too embarrassing for them to live in, they took their Virgin Mary statues with them and relocated them in their front yard in places like Revere and points north , now they’re back and inherited some property and they think oh East Boston’s on it’s way up , I’m moving back.

1750's?????

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1750's?????

Really??!?

Where exactly can these "quite a few" mid-Georgian buildings be found? I wish it were true, but I'm skeptical to say the least.