Maverick Street Bowfronts Come Down

The long saga of the Maverick Street bowfronts that a group of East Boston residents feverishly tried to save from demolition ended when the buildings finally came down last week.

Since last summer, Linear Retail Properties has been trying to develop the former Rapino Funeral Home at 9 Chelsea St. in Maverick Square. Aside from purchasing the former funeral home, Linear also purchased the two brick, bow-front homes at 144-146 Maverick St.

Since Linear first pitched its plan there was a grassroots effort by residents to save at least the facades of the two brick buildings and incorporate them in the design of the planned two-story retail structure.

However, on Monday, July 9, Linear got the greenlight from the city, was issued a demolition permit and the two buildings quickly came down.

“A sad week for the buildings,” said Meg Grady who helped lead the charge in saving the buildings. “A shame on community process, preservation and the mayor reneging on his promise.”

However, Mayor Martin Walsh maintains that he supported the community’s efforts to save the buildings, but always cautioned that due process for the project had to play out. He was on the record as saying that while he supports the community’s efforts to save the bow-fronts the two buildings were never on the Historic Register so their historic significance in the neighborhood was a big question mark.

The demolition of the buildings ends a year long battle between the developer and residents. In September, the Landmarks Commission placed a 90-day demolition delay on the project. The Landmarks Commission regularly grants 90 day demolition delays under Article 85 unless the commission determines there is good reason for the buildings to come down sooner. The purpose of Article 85, according to the Landmark Commission, ‘is to establish a predictable process for reviewing requests to demolish certain buildings in order to establish an appropriate waiting period during which the city and the applicant can propose and consider alternatives to the demolition of a building of historical, architectural, cultural or urban design value to the city,’ as well as to ‘provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the issues regarding the demolition of a particular building’.

Then, with the demolition delay set to expire on November 20, 2017, Linear was told by the Landmarks Commission that they were in violation of Article 85. At a subsequent hearing in front of the Landmarks Commission Linear was told that the same community members trying to save the two homes had provided the commission with pictures depicting demolition work occurring at 144-146 Maverick St.

While no Landmarks Commission members went out to inspect the two Maverick Street properties they ruled Linear was in violation of Article 85 and slapped the two-year moratorium on the project. This meant that Linear could not move forward with zoning or permitting for the project until 2019.

However, in April the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted unanimously to reverse a previous Boston Landmarks Commission ruling that placed the two-year moratorium on a Maverick Street development project. The ZBA ruled that Landmarks Commission erred in its determination to impose the two-year moratorium on the project under Article 85 of the Boston Zoning Codes.

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