House demolitions OK’ed

September 12, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH


Gazette Photo by John Ruch
Houses at 381 (right) and 387 Hyde Park Ave. are boarded up awaiting demolition.

WOODBOURNE—Two Hyde Park Avenue houses—one of them at least 112 years old—will be demolished and replaced with multi-family townhouses after the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) took no action at a hearing this week.

The BLC could have imposed a 90-day delay on demolishing the houses at 381 and 387 Hyde Park Ave. so that preservation could have been considered.

BLC commissioners were clearly skeptical of LaRosa Development Corporation officials’ claims that the houses are falling apart, especially because the main evidence were stories of uneven floors and squeaky stairs.

“To me, it’s not worth spending 5 cents on,” Salvatore LaRosa said of 381.

The Boston Preservation Alliance and the BLC’s own staff recommended imposing the demolition delay at the Sept. 9 hearing.

But LaRosa had an engineer’s report calling for demolition, though it did not cite any actual basic structural problems. And no community members or officials spoke against the demolition. Only two residents attended a Sept. 5 community meeting held at the property, and they did not voice objections.

The houses were put up for sale last year as “teardowns” by owners who were still living in 387. The land is zoned for three-family residential housing. LaRosa is planning a total of four two-family townhouses on the site, each standing three stories high. They will be closer to the street than the existing houses and will look more like the gated condo complex next door at 391 Hyde Park Ave.

All of the new construction will be done within zoning code guidelines, meaning no further community input will happen.

The 381 house dates to no later than 1896, and the 387 house to the 1905-1924 era, according to BLC Executive Director Ellen Lipsey. A BLC staff report found that the loss of the houses would have a “significant negative impact” on the neighborhood’s character, she said.

City officials took a lot of interest in the houses, including an Aug. 18 site visit that included Lipsey, a top building inspector and representatives from the Mayor’s Office and City Councilor Rob Consalvo’s office.

Both houses have lost much of their historical detail. One remaining feature is a Queen Anne-style porch on 381. Salvatore LaRosa acknowledged to the BLC that the company damaged the porch while removing trees. The new buildings will include some exterior details meant to echo the porch’s design, LaRosa officials said at the Sept. 5 community meeting.

LaRosa is also building houses on Larch Place next to the 381 house. One townhouse is already finished and two more are under construction.