City returns mansion, but concerns linger

SUMNER HILL—A decaying mansion at 28 Alveston St. seized by the City last year for unpaid property taxes is back in private hands and reportedly for sale. But neighbors and officials remained concerned about its condition and discussed it at a Feb. 6 meeting of the Problem Properties Committee (PPC).

“It’s very much a blighted property in the neighborhood,” said City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who attended the meeting. He said residents expressed concerns that the property may be vacant and is allegedly home to raccoons that roam abutting yards.

Most of the mansion’s paint has peeled off and weather-tattered tarps cover parts of the roof.

The $50,000 tax bill was paid off recently, but meanwhile, the “former owner died” and the property is now owned by her estate as represented by a Christopher Robinson, according to City Department of Neighborhood Development spokesperson Kerry O’Brien. O’Brien identified Jamaica Plain attorney Laurie McKeown as representing the current owner.

“DND is accurate” that the mansion is back in private hands, McKeown told the Gazette. But she would not identify the owner and would not say whether the property is vacant.

McKeown said that reports of raccoons living in the mansion are “probably not true.”

“If the Problem Properties [Committee] talks to you, why couldn’t Problem Properties talk to me?” McKeown asked. When asked if that meant officials involved with the committee did not contact her, she said, “Of course not.”

Robert Torres, an aide to state Rep. Liz Malia who staffs the PPC, said that Robinson recently told City officials that he is trying to sell the property “and hopes to do so within the next couple months.”

Prior to its seizure last year, the property had been in disrepair for several years. The City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) had a complaint about raccoons in the mansion in 2011, but it was unclear if a citation was issued, as the Gazette previously reported. ISD did not respond to questions about the property’s current status.

PPC is a team of residents, police, City inspectors and elected officials who identify private properties that appear to have ongoing quality-of-life or crime issues and work with the owners to resolve them. It meets monthly at the District E-13 Police Station.

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