Landmarks Commission Places Two Year Moratorium on Maverick Square Project

By John Lynds

The Boston Landmarks Commission slapped a two-year moratorium on the demolition of two 19th Century brick bow-fronts on Maverick Street that some members of the community have been trying to preserve and be designated a ‘landmark’ status.

As part of the project at 9 Chelsea St. developer Linear Retail Properties plans to raze the former funeral home as well as the two buildings at 144-146 Maverick St. This plan sparked a grassroots effort by residents to save at least the facades of the two brick buildings and incorporate them into the design of the planned two story retail structure.

The developer filed for Article 85 to allow the Landmarks Commission ample time to determine if the buildings had historical significance and a 90 day demolition delay was imposed.

At a followup hearing last Tuesday, the Landmarks Commission ruled that the developer had violated Article 85 by conducting asbestos removal on the two buildings. However, there was some confusion whether or not asbestos abatement is in violation on Article 85 because it would have to be conducted whether or not the buildings are torn down or preserved.

The Landmarks Commission also voted at the meeting to accept the petition to designate 144 and 146 Maverick Street for further study, so the two buildings are now a Boston pending landmark.

Those leading the fight to save the buildings said they were encouraged by the Landmarks Commission’s rulings.

“I am incredibly proud of our community. Eastie residents are uniting over a shared passion to see our neighborhood’s charm, character, and history preserved,” said Julia Burrell. “In an effort to make our collective voice heard, we gathered over 1,200 signatures on a petition to Mayor Walsh imploring the city of Boston and elected officials to take action to save these historic structures. We hope that the mayor is listening. If these buildings are to be demolished, they can never be replaced.”

Burrell said her hope is that the developer understands that as a community, the group opposing the demolition of the two buildings is supportive of progress on this site.

“However, it should not be at the expense of our history,” she said. “It’s important to remember that older buildings intrinsically add value to a street scape, especially this prominent city block in Maverick Square. New businesses actually prefer old buildings because old buildings attract people, and are a reminder of a city’s culture and complexity.  It is my hope that Linear will work with the community to elevate their design and integrate these structures, along with our landmarked E. Howard clock, into the project. When you tear down historic buildings, the regret of what is lost only goes one way.”

Meg Hammond added that she was encouraged that the Landmarks Commission took the community’s complaints seriously.

“I look forward to the Mayor and our elected officials getting involved as promised to support the community in saving the buildings,” she said.

Dan Bailey who has been in support of keeping the buildings intact said the decision to grant 144-146 Maverick Street pending Landmark status is an important milestone.

“It authorizes Landmarks Commission staff to prepare a comprehensive study report, evaluating whether the buildings are eligible to become Boston Landmarks,” he said. “This is an important step, not just in saving these buildings from demolition, but also in recognizing East Boston’s history and the value of the neighborhood’s historic architecture. Because East Boston is separated from the rest of the city by the harbor, it has long been overlooked and undervalued when it comes to historic preservation, even though it’s one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods, and has a rich architectural heritage. Tuesday’s decision shows that the Commission recognizes that East Boston’s history is important to the history of the city, the Commonwealth, and the nation. This decision also recognizes the significance of the local people who built and used 144-146 Maverick Street as well as the broader contributions of the East Boston community that has made and re-made the neighborhood over the years.”

In a statement from Linear’s Joel Kadis the Senior Vice President said, “While Linear Retail remains hopeful and optimistic about bringing much needed retail opportunities to East Boston while making a substantial investment in Maverick Square, it has not received any written determination of the demolition violation from the Boston Landmarks Commission despite repeated requests.  Therefore we are not in a position to comment on the substance of the Commission’s actions at this time.”

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