Community Updated on Loftel project

Since 2016 residents living in the Gove Street area have compared the dilapidated building on the corner of Porter and Orleans streets to something you would see in wartorn regions rather than East Boston.
For some years now the owners of the building that is slated to be transformed into a boutique-style hotel or ‘loftel’ has taken some hits in the community as abutters to the property have complained the old industrial factory at 175 Orleans St. looks worse than ever. The Patels bought the ZBA permitted and BPDA-approved project from developer and restaurateur Paul Roiff for $14.75 million in 2017.
At the last Gove Street Citizens Association meeting Attorney Richard Lynds, who was brought in by the Patels last year to get the project over the goalline, said progress has been made, and the Patels are eager to begin construction.
At the meeting Lynds covered some old ground on why the project had been delayed for so long. 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. “The Patels have been in negotiations with the telecommunication companies for over a year 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 come with that.”
The Patels have been in a long dialogue with the owner of the antennas on how to best place 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 and 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.
Lynds said while the building doesn’t strike you as an historic building, there is some significance and history to the property. Lynds said 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 can sometimes be a long process.
“It took roughly a year and half for the Patels to go through the tax credit process,” said Lynds.
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.
In the end, Lynds said plans for construction have been finalized and provided to the BPDA for approval and are awiting BPDA design approval. Once the BPDA signs off the Patels can submit for their building permit.
A contractor has also been hired to begin to ‘prep’ the building for construction.
“You will soon see scaffolding go up all around the building,” said Lynds. “This scaffolding will then be covered with mesh and you won’t be able to see the building once construction begins except for some of the top floor.”
Lynds said the Patels have also secured construction financing and once a building permit is issued the project will begin.
“No one is more eager to start work than my client,” said Lynds. “It’s an enormous financial burden holding the building in its current state considering the very large mortgage that is attached to the property.”

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