Owner of building on Charles Street on Beacon Hill sues over basement excavation next door; says the work has rendered its building unsafe for occupancy
The owner of 151 Charles St. on Beacon Hill yesterday sued the owner of the neighboring 149 Charles St., for what it says is illegal digging in that building's basement, which it claims removed some supports for its building, forcing it to evacuate the tenants who had not already moved after their floors started warping, their walls started cracking and doors and windows stopped closing all the way.
In its lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Egeria, a Dutch real-estate investment firm, accuses local real-estate developer Ty Gupta and his contractors of causing at least $1.2 million in damage and lost rents in its four-story, six-unit building.
Gupta bought 149 Charles St. in October, 2021 for $8.3 million from a bar holding company controlled by City Realty, after that company had won city approval to add three apartments in a rear addition to its own six-unit building. City Realty initially held onto the Beacon Hill Pub, but last March, the Boston Licensing Board approved plans by Gupta to buy the Beacon Hill Pub liquor license and turn the dive into a fancy Beacon Hill-worthy restaurant.
In its suit, Egeria, which bought its building in December, 2021 for $10.9 million, charges that Gupta's contractors went beyond what they were approved for in the basement under the permits City Realty got, that rather than simply renovating the space, they began excavating it to a depth of five feet, and without the supervision of a structural engineer, let alone approval from ISD.
Egeria, through a local LLC, Charles and Cambridge Corner, LLC, charges:
Defendants' excavation removed lateral support for the foundation of the abutting property owned by Plaintiff C&C at 151 Charles.
Defendants' excavation removed soil within the critical angle of repose beneath the foundation of 151 Charles.
Defendants' excavation undermined the foundation of 151 Charles.
Egeria alleges ISD issued a stop-work order in August, but rescinded that after Gupta's contractor told an inspector any digging was just for "test pits" for engineers, rather than to increase the ceiling height enough in the basement to allow restaurant seating there.
The suit continues:
On or about September 19, 2022, Plaintiff C&C's tenants at 151 Charles began reporting to C&C's property manager sudden and severe warping of floors, cracking in plaster, cracking in bathroom tiles, and failure of doors and windows to open and shut property.
The suit alleges this "sudden and severe shifting of portions of the building at 151 Charles" happened within a span of just a few hours and "at the very same time Defendants were excavating the basement at 149 Charles."
Egeria says that ISD "immediately ordered Defendants to stop work" until a remediation plan by engineers hired by both landlords could come up with a remediation plan.
But ISD removed its stop-work order after a 149 Charles engineer submitted a one-page report on Oct. 6 that the work was "safe."
Egeria says that on Oct. 31, four of the six tenants in its building ended their leases because of the problems.
On Jan. 3, the suit continues, Egeria ordered the remaining tenants out of the building after an engineer it had hired concluded "the front units of the building had shifted to the point that they could no longer suport any occupancy."
On Jan. 13, the suit continues, ISD issued another stop-work order.
As of the filing of this Complaint, cracking in walls, displacement of doors and windows, and sinking of floors continue at 151 Charles.
Egeria is seeking a jury trial to demand that Gupta pay damages - and not be allowed to do any additional work until it submits remediation plans that Egeria's engineers conclude would make Egeria's building safe again.
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Scaffolding and dumpster...
Interesting that the Google Street View, dated September 2022, shows scaffolding all around 149 (and also 147) Charles Street, amd a dumpster out in front...
I hope they both lose.
I'm rooting for the Plaintiff
Anyone who does excavation without a structural engineer should never receive another building permit in the City of Boston.
I was a tenant during this
I was a tenant during this fiasco at 151 Charles. My takeaways:
ISD is completely and utterly useless. Kept deferring to structural "engineers" who clearly had conflicting interests. It was a PAIN to get out of the lease despite all the signs of deterioration. Building inspector should have done his job, but he was too afraid to do anything. Shame on all involved.
Did Egaria do something bad?
Why do you want them both to lose?
They both need to lose
Landlords suck. Maybe you missed this part:
The building is in danger of collapsing, and the landlord won't let their tenants out of their leases. Again, landlords suck.
Also, I've seen this happen before in a great documentary:
now seems like the right time to yawp: "build, baby, build!"
I walk by there all the time and was wondering what exactly happened, but suspected it was from the basement digging. I feel bad for the little dry cleaner/tailor shop on the 1st floor - they were so nice.
I am getting a vision...
In early 2024 I see a planning board meeting where they are voting on a new 20 unit, 5 story building complete with 80 parking spots below to replace both 149 and 151 Charles Streets, as both buildings are now deemed unhabitable and were torn down. The owners sold both their plots for big money, and now it's going to be twice as large. And of course the developer is going pay for affordable units elsewhere so this building will be 100% L U X U R Y .
The NIMBYs of Beacon Hill are out in full force and are worried about sunlight not geting to children's faces as they walk down Charles Street. Or that one worried resident is concerned that her cat will no longer have a skyline view from her 3rd floor condo across the street.
You know you will see it
(written with a bit of sarcasm but this is how this sh*t works in this town)
Beacon Hill would be in full
Beacon Hill would be in full support of additional residential units.
It’s never good news when that name comes up.
Can't blame them for this
They won approval to do X, then sold the building to somebody who, according to the suit, anyway, did Y.
I haven’t blamed them or anyone.
I made an observation.
Nobody to blame
but Inspectional Services.
ISD should be cleaned out
There is no possible justification for this - it's incompetence and laziness, and possibly someone being bought off.
The damage is visible
Yesterday while walking down Charles I noticed that the facade of 151 had a crack in the lintel and the wall was leaning—it seemed incredible, but now I know I wasn’t imagining it.
Remember the roof caving in from construction on that Beacon St building? It’s scary that so much major renovation of these old buildings is being done on spec by absent conglomerates who find the cheapest, worst builders out there!!
It’s awful that the upshot is 6 homeless tenants—but thank God the building didn’t collapse! Could have been so much worse…
Not ISD's finest hour
I walk by that building pretty regularly; I was astounded to not see a stop work order ever posted. Maybe I missed it, but I think the stink may be even greater than it at first appears.
This may be useful if anyone wants to do a little digital sleuthing: https://data.boston.gov/dataset/approved-building-permits/resource/6ddcd...