Teardown of old house on hold

September 26, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH

PARKSIDE—The Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) has delayed the demolition of an old house at 24 Sigourney St.

Local developer Robert Moses appears to have general support for his plan to demolish the vacant, 1880-era house and replace it with a new condo building. But neighbors want to see financing in place, and more design details worked out, before demolition occurs.

The BLC on Sept. 23 put a 90-day delay on demolition. Commissioners had questions of their own—whether water and fire damage to the basement are severe enough to require demolition as Moses claimed. Commissioners will make a visit to the property within the next few weeks.

Moses also plans to take down some large trees on the property, saying a neighbor reported them as blighted. The BLC requested more documentation of that.

If Moses presents enough evidence, the BLC can allow demolition to go ahead. Otherwise, Moses will still be free to demolish the house after 90 days, presuming city inspectors agree.

Merlin Southwick, who lives at 26 Sigourney, said neighbors still have some concerns to satisfy. But, he added, 24 Sigourney has had a “revolving door” of tenants in the heavily subdivided house. He said Moses’s project could “stablize” the area. He recalled the infamous case of a house across the street that sat vacant for years before finally burning, endangering other homes.

The proposed new condos are undergoing Boston Redevelopment Authority design review because the property falls into a Neighborhood Design Overlay District in the zoning code. It will likely need Boston Parks Commission review as well because of its proximity to Franklin Park.

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