Welfare Building Progress Outlined

John Tyler was at Monday night’s Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association meeting to brief residents on the progress at the Welfare Building at 154 Maverick St.

Over the past year Tyler and his wife, Melissa, have transformed the once decaying structure into a vibrant commercial development, business incubator space and residence.

At Monday’s meeting, Tyler said they have most of the spaces rented and are looking to officially open the building in a month.

“We are going through the permitting process and will hopefully have an occupancy permit by next week,” said Tyler. “Hopefully in a months time we will be open for business.”

Tyler said already the first floor would consist of a café, vintage clothing store, gift shop, computer and phone repair shop, a show repair shop and a children’s clothing boutique.

“The second floor office space will consist of a translation services company, a startup IPhone App business, a speech therapist and marriage counseling and psychology services,” he said.

Mercedes Pica, who will run Salamander Café on the first floor, said she was excited that the building is close to opening.

“I’m proud to be part of this process and a development that will be good for the neighborhood,” said Pica.

The City of Boston officially handed over ownership of the Welfare Building on Maverick Street to John and Melissa Tyler last June.

The Tylers closed on the property after getting approval in May 2009 from the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) to develop the vacant building. East Boston’s First Priority Credit Union (FPCU) is financing the $1.2 million renovation on the building.

From the beginning, the Tylers’ plan involved a comprehensive development strategy for the building that includes commercial, retail and residential components. Their plan calls for converting the first floor of the building with up to eight boutique shops in an open market style similar to Faneuil Hall.  The second floor will be 10 offices while the third floor would be converted into two residential apartments–one of which the Tylers will live.

“It is going to be a building that is open to the East Boston community, for budding and serial entrepreneurs to get their ideas and business plans off of the kitchen table, spare rooms and desk under the stairs and act as a springboard to growing a successful business within our neighborhood,” said Tyler.

The Tylers plan historically renovated the building and will only charge short money for office space and shops.

John Tylers said 7 of 9 spaces are already rented and ready for the building to open.

The husband and wife team’s proposal garnered a lot of support from residents at community meetings, many of which said they’d like to see more unique businesses come to Eastie. This proposal, said some residents, could attract more diverse retail in the Maverick Square area now being dominated by many businesses that are very similar.

In December 2007, both the Tyler’s and the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) submitted plans for the building. NOAH’s plan for the building calls for converting the structure into 10-14 units of rental housing for seniors on low to moderate income. Rents would cost $700 per month for these one-bedroom apartments. The $3.2 million project would historically renovate the facade of the building, potentially add a fourth floor to the building, and construct a community room for 25-30 seniors to use all day.

In the end the Tylers’ proposal was accepted by the city.

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