The construction at 8-10 Taylor Street will go on, decided the South End Landmarks Commission on Tuesday night.
The wooden home is only one of two in the South End. It has faced controversy in the neighborhood since construction started several weeks ago, had its stop work order lifted after the commission's review. The stop work order had been imposed due to the homeowner and contractor's decision to take down an extra wall during the demolition process. That demolished east wall will be rebuilt based on preservation's standards, the commission decided.
"The mistake was that you didn't call when the wall had to come down," said commission chair Christie Gamp. "I can't believe knowing the contentiousness of this project and the neighbors that that didn't happen... It's unbelievable for the neighbors and all we've worked for and to feel like we're blindsided," said Christie Gamp.
Owner Ramy Rizkalla said his project had always intended to rebuild the home's east wall.
"The design wasn’t discussed very much because we were under the impression because it doesn’t give onto a public way, it's not under the commission's purview," he said. "The rebuilding of that east wall was approved from a construction perspective... the wall was bowing, it was rotting, there was termite damage and it needed to be moved because of the fire code."
After some public testimony, the commission decided to lift the stop work order, pending a further review of plans to rebuild the home's east wall up to the state's preservation standards.
"I don't think there’s any benefit to anyone to delay the project longer," said commission member John Freeman. "We don’t have the purview to impose fines or a moratorium, although that can be done through the legal process. I want to see this project built because I'm embarrassed, quite frankly," he said.
Neighbors in attendance agreed, noting that since the wall was already down, it was too late for a stop work order to hold any value.
"I'd much rather look at a home rather than a huge pile of rubble and a shoddily held up wall," said Taylor Street resident Kate Alessi.
South End Historical Society Executive Director Hope Shannon noted at the meeting that she's concerned that the front façade is also in danger of being demolished.
"To ensure it lasts is extremely important," she said.
Several neighbors and the Landmarks Commission also suggested to the owner to make amends in the neighborhood by adding improvements to the property's nearby park.
For now, expect to see construction on the house resume in the next few days, and expect to see an update during the commission's March meeting.