Taylor Street 'Stop Work' Order Lifted, East Wall to Be Rebuilt

The Landmarks Commission decided on Tuesday night to lift the stop work order on the wooden house at 8-10 Taylor Street.

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. 

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Southender February 06, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Were I the owner I would tell the neighbors to go fly a kite. There was nothing historical about the building and the owner was correct about the side wall being outside the purvue of the Commission. The neighbors have been totally unreasonable throughout this whole process.
salted.caramel February 06, 2013 at 05:54 PM
I couldn't agree more with Southender. A lot of scathing opinion and very little understanding of facts.
Sara Jacobi February 06, 2013 at 06:30 PM
@Southender - the commission actually said that wall IS within its purview since it can be seen from a public way.
JMc February 06, 2013 at 06:38 PM
It was built in 1899(ish), was one of 2 remaining wooden structures left in the South End, and is in a historic district. That makes it historical. By your logic, we can tear down the whole south end, because nothing there is really historic. The side wall was viewable from a public way, therefore making it In the purview of the Commission, as stated by the commission last night.
Read please February 06, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Please read Scope of Review for the SELDC: link below: http://m.cityofboston.gov/landmarks/historic/southend.asp The East elevation of 8 Taylor St does NOT face a public way or permanent public space. The North & East elevations do & thus were under close scrutiny by the SELDC. Please read: Scope of Review All exterior work at front facades, all exterior work at rooftops (when visible from a public way), and all exterior work at side and rear elevations (when side and rear elevations face a public way or permanent public open space) are subject to the review of the South End Landmark District Commission. A Certificate of Appropriateness, Design Approval, or Exemption Application must be submitted to and approved by the Commission prior to beginning any exterior work that is subject to Commission review. See the Standards and Criteria for the South End Landmark District Commission for further information.
Read please February 06, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Correction: North & West face a public way... The East elevation faces the alley: the alley is NOT a public way & therefore is NOT within the scope of design Review for the SELDC. FYI
Sara Jacobi February 06, 2013 at 07:22 PM
That issue was addressed at last night's meeting and the commission said that since it can be seen from a public way it is under their scope. FYI.
Read please February 06, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Consequently the Scope of Review as published on the link is in contradiction with what the SELDC said last night. Whom do the applicants respond to? The published Scope of Review or the verbal reprimand of the Commission? It is fair to admit that there is a contradiction and therefore there is room for interpretation. FYI
lemon.bar February 07, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Lifting the stop work order is good for us and our community. I'm looking forward to having a new wooden structure that will define what is historical for the next hundred years. Kudos to the other neighbors who support this--these structures will outlive us all!
Joan D. Wheeler February 07, 2013 at 03:32 PM
The idea of having the owner fix up Watson Park as his penalty is ironic to say the least since I am sure that is exactly what he would like to do. He has hinted to some of the neighbors about the fact that the park would "change" (it's a mess at the moment because of three construction projects). The park is his view from inside the glass wall of the house. If he took it over, he would have control of the entire length of Taylor St on that side. It would make more sense if he were not allowed to enter the park for 12 months after his building is finished. Since the historic commission cannot fine violators, at lease the penance should not be to his benefit. Also to say that the framing will be done in a couple of months is quite optimistic How can you dig a foundation when the ground is frozen and covered with snow? I am wondering if anybody has sufficient insurance in the event that the propped up front facade should come down on my house across the street. Holland said the framing would be done in 2.5 months. Will the front facade survive 2.5 months up in the air?
Sara Jacobi February 07, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Interesting perspective about the park improvements, Joan. You would think the community would WANT the owner to fix up the park, no?
Read please February 07, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Joan: Why would you refuse the resources & input of a neighbor to improve a park across from your home? The key word in your comment is the word 'control'. Taylor street is a community, and community members SHARE control of public amenities, no? Your desire to marginalize a neighbor whose input in the park was at the behest of the South End Landmarks District Commission is yet another symptom of the irrational response of some of the neighbors on your street to change & progress. I'm hopeful that in the future you will be able to show a spirit of collaboration in your neighborhood & on your street.
salted.caramel February 07, 2013 at 06:33 PM
As absurd as Joan's comments are, they are emblematic of the problem. There is nothing that can appease these people. Change is simply unacceptable to some people and the response has been to be vindictive. At least she has the courage to use her real name.
KKCK February 08, 2013 at 03:17 AM
walter ferme February 10, 2013 at 05:45 PM
David Thoreau's hut in Concord is a replica... No one objected to reproducing it when the original disappeared. This house is a ridiculously simple wood triple decker and could be reproduced and made to look better than the original by skilled carpenters. I checked the siding and it is not the original... so there goes 50% of the "original" house, maybe even the trims were replaced over the years... there goes 70% of the original house... Maybe the windows are not original either...how much are Landamrks and Neighbors "preserving" and how much are they basing their opposition based on sentimentality over "reality"? I agree with "Read Please" comments: side elevations are under review if they "face" a public way! Landmarks has no jurisdiction on the side that faces a private alley...


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