Chelsea St. Building to Be Razed This Week

Demolition crews begin taking down the last buildings affected by the October 14, 2011 building collapse on Chelsea Street that ultimately affected almost half a city block.

The last buildings affected by the October 2011 building collapse on Chelsea Street is being demolished this week.

Demolition crews have begun razing the buildings from 41-39 Chelsea St.—a row of brick buildings that were connected to the building that collapsed on October 14, 2011.

These buildings were structurally compromised after 47 Chelsea St. came down on a rainy fall night. Once 47 Chelsea St. fell, it pulled on all the homes connected on the right of the building. The collapse of 47 Chelsea St. set off a chain reaction that compromised the structural integrity of several attached homes on the block.

After the collapse the city ordered 45 Chelsea St. to be taken down due to concerns that it too would collapse. A few weeks later it was found that 43 Chelsea St. would also have to come down.

Boston’s Inspectional Service Department recently determined that the buildings from 41 to 39 Chelsea St. would need to be demolished and were condemned by the city.

According to the city the owners and developers from 43 to 47 Chelsea St. are now working with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to expedite permitting for brand new market rate housing units and some retail. Up to 20 units will be added to the stretch of Chelsea Street that looks more like Dresden during WWII than a neighborhood block.

Also, plans have been submitted for the redevelopment of the lot from 41-39 Chelsea St. that would include market rate housing.

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 nor 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 was 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 in October 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, a month after Gaurracino sent ISD the letter that the city began moving residents out of the adjoining homes.

Then on a rain soaked October night, Gaurracino’s prediction came true as 47 Chelsea Street came tumbling to the ground.

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