The building that collapsed Saturday on Chelsea Street and the subsequent demolition of the building next door has set off a chain reaction that may force more buildings to come down.
Boston’s Inspectional Services Department Commissioner Bill Good said after 47 Chelsea St. collapsed late Friday night the city ordered the demolition of the next attached home at 45 Chelsea St. later that day due to the concern that it too would fall.
Now, the city has ordered residents from 43 to 39 Chelsea Street to gather as many belongings they can because ISD’s chief engineer Gary Mosher fears the others are compromised—leaving dozens of residents without a home as a result of the disaster.
“What we’ve done is sent violations to the owners of 43,41, and 39 Chelsea St, ordering them to hire a structural engineer and file a report with our office on the integrity of these buildings and what, if any, work
needs to be done to bring them up to code,” said Mosher.
The problem with the stretch of attached homes dates back to the 1970’s when structural cracks in the foundations of 51 and 49 Chelsea St. were found by ISD is 1978. ISD issued a permit that year for the owner to make corrections.
Whether or not those corrections were ever made remains a mystery.
51 and 49 Chelsea Street had fallen into disrepair by the late 1990’s and in 2002 were deemed unsafe for human habitation by ISD.
The two homes went into foreclosure and into receivership by the city that sold them to Acorn Construction in 2005. As part of the sale a raze order by the city was attached to 51 and 49 Chelsea St. and Acorn was ordered to manually take down the two homes without heavy equipment as to not damage the attached homes at 47 and 45 Chelsea St.
Acorn came up with a plan to take down the two buildings by hand and ISD inspected the site and the adjacent homes and was comfortable that Acorn’s work had not damaged the adjoining homes.
However, 47 Chelsea St., the building that collapsed Saturday had its own slew of structural problems similar to 51 and 49 Chelsea St.
While ISD tried to work with the owner of 47 Chelsea St., Steven Saari, to address the problems in his building it was too little too late.
By 2010 it was evident that buildings sidewall was in desperate need of immediate repair.
In May 2011 ISD ordered the home unfit for human habitation and residents were forced to abandon their apartments.
An engineer hired by Saari to file a report on the building withdrew his name from the project in September because Saari was allegedly either unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to address the severe problems affecting the building’s structural integrity.
The engineer, Carmine Gaurracino, recommended that steel shoring and plates and rods be used to fix the bulging outer wall. In his final analysis in that September letter to ISD was the building would ‘collapse without warning’ if his recommendations were not immediately implemented.
However, it wasn’t until last Tuesday, a month after Gaurracino sent ISD the letter, that the city began moving residents out of the adjoining home at 45 Chelsea Street.
Then on a rain soaked Friday night, Gaurracino’s prediction came true as 47 Chelsea Street came tumbling to the ground.