Since 2016 residents living in the Gove Street area have compared the former Sterlingwear factory on the corner of Porter and Orleans Streets to something you would see in war-torn Damascus rather than East Boston.
In 2016 the proposal to transform the former factory into a ‘Loftel’ received approvals by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) and the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).
Boston Trade International, owned by the Patel family, has taken some hits in the community as abutters to property have complained for years now that the old industrial factory looks worse than ever. The Patels bought the ZBA permitted and BPDA-approved project from developer and restaurateur Paul Roiff for $14.75 million.
After months of the project stalling due to a couple of complex issues, the owners retained Attorney Richard Lynds to help get the proposed 123 room boutique-style hotel over the goal line.
At a community meeting, Monday Lynds said the delays in construction were largely due to the telecommunication antennas on top of the building.
“As most of you know there are a number of telecommunication antennas on the roof of the building,” Lynds said Monday. “The Patels have been in negotiations with the telecommunication companies to move these antennas to another part of the roof. When dealing with the relocation of telecommunication antennas there very complicated and legal choreography that has to occur before you can move forward. Because moving them causes a disruption in service there a whole host of issues that comes with that.”
The Patels have been in a long dialogue with the owner of the antennas on how to best relocate them on the roof to make it more aesthetically pleasing. These antennas are part of a telecommunication easement. Lynds explained that you cannot evict them from the building because they are the owners of the space they occupy on the building’s roof.
Lynds said the good news is the Patels have finally worked out those issues of relocating the telecommunication equipment and all the telecommunication companies involved have agreed to allow the antennas to be moved to the middle of the building’s roof.
The second reason for the delay is that the Patels have applied for a Historic Renovation Tax Credit as part of the project.
“While the building doesn’t strike you as an historic building, there is some significance and history to the property,” Lynds said of the old shoe factory. “It does have some historic value in the neighborhood and applying and receiving tax credit funding ensures that the redevelopment of the building is done in a way that respects the property’s history and is incorporated into the hotel’s design.”
The owners said they have been working with the Architectural Commission to bring back the original windows that were part of the building in the 1920s.
“We’ve been in regular contact with the Mayor’s Office as well as Councilor Edwards and Rep. Madaro with respect to the delays,” said Lynds. “I’ve impressed upon my client that it is imperative that they take action as soon as possible to start getting this building into a condition that is no longer an eyesore in the community.”
Lynds said that the Patels have reported that a contractor has been hired and initial construction will begin as early as two weeks.
“This will include removing all the current windows, plastic sheeting, as well as wrapping the building in construction fencing,” said Lynds.