GSCA Votes Down Project

On the surface, the proposed project at 168 Gove St. didn’t seem to be all that controversial compared to some of the other large scale development going on in the area.

Fernando Dalfio purchased the property and with that purchase inherited the dilapidated conditions of the building.

Dalfio, a Colombian immigrant, decided to improve the building and the living conditions of tenants. Working with the tenants in the 4-unit building, Dalfio planned  to take the existing multifamily home in need of repairs and updating on the corner of Gove and Geneva Streets and change the occupancy from 4 to 8 units, add a vertical addition and roof deck and completely renovate the existing building.

He offered to extend all the current tenants’ leases for two years and, once renovations were complete, the opportunity to return at market rate rents.

However, the housing advocacy group Vida Urbana, aka City Life, began to stir up opposition to the proposal–arguing the project would displace the residents currently living there. Some of their demands included offering an 8-year lease extension to the current residents and no increase in rent. 

Dalfio, feeling City Life and tenants were being unreasonable, went forward with the project and tried to gain zoning approvals for his project at the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Last Tuesday, the ZBA voted against the proposal because of a “miscommunication of all parties” due to last-minute changes to the project proposal that were not included on the final ZBA agenda.

At the ZBA meeting, it was announced that updated plans reflected Dalfio’s decision to reduce the number of units from 8 to 6 as well as scale back the vertical addition. This would allow Dalfio to begin work renovating the unoccupied portion of the building and add the two new market rate units while not having to displace the current tenants on floors 2, 3 and 4. However, Dalfio’s plan is to eventually update those upper units at a later date after the current tenants’ leases expire.

However, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Service and Councilor Lydia Edwards spoke in opposition of the project and said more conversations need to happen between the owner and tenants before the project moves forward.

The ZBA directed the owner to continue dialogue with tenants and come back before the ZBA with an updated plan.

While Vida Urbana took a victory lap they commented that even though the ZBA rejected the 168 Gove project proposal, the main concerns of community members, the issues of displacement and further gentrification, were left unaddressed.

“The ZBA failed to take the stance that Dalfior’s proposal should not go forward because it will lead to community harm. Instead, they voted based on technicalities. The ZBA gave Dalfior another opportunity to restart and resubmit his proposal to the Gove Street Neighborhood association and later the ZBA,” they said in a statement.

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