Letter: Mayor should halt historic house demolition

Thank you for your piece on Bicon’s plans to demolish 21 Yale Terrace. (“Dental firm aims to demolish historic house,” Jan. 16.) Yale Terrace is a historic, architecturally interesting and cohesive neighborhood, nestled between the Forest Hills Cemetery and Franklin Park. There are nine houses on this street, and it is a very cohesive, residential and quiet community. We are devastated to learn of Bicon’s plans and deeply concerned about the sustainability of the historic, residential character of our cherished community.

Last year our neighbor Berta Berriz retired after serving for 30 years as a Boston public school teacher. She decided to move south, and put her house of 30 years on the market. Berta instructed her real estate agent to sell her house only to a family that would continue the traditions of neighborhood and, she hoped, sustain the loving care she had put into her home over decades.

Instead, Bicon, knowing that Berta had already refused to sell to them because she valued the residential neighborhood, dishonestly used a straw buyer to purchase her house, for the sole purpose of tearing it down to make room for a 54-car parking garage and a hotel-style dormitory for their trainees.

Now our the neighbors still living here have to get to work: We cannot let this historic house be torn down and replaced with a parking garage. It just doesn’t fit in our neighborhood. And once it’s torn down, it cannot be replaced. It is over 100 years old.

We are asking Mayor Walsh to ensure that Bicon does not get a demolition permit for 21 Yale Terrace.

The action we seek is simple. The City must say “no” to the request for permission to destroy this house. The unwarranted demolition is requested so that Bicon can clear the way for an extremely dubious and ill-fitting industrial development. They have shown us the plans, and we unequivocally reject those plans as deeply damaging to our community.

There are buyers out there who want this lovely house, and Bicon can sell, likely at a good profit. There are also many sites in the city better-suited for industrial expansion. We don’t wish any of our residential or commercial neighbors ill, but this is the wrong site for their parking garage and transient housing.

But unless the City does the right thing, Bicon will tear this house down and try to build that garage.

We hope they are not successful in the pursuit of this outlandish idea, but even then, we will have an unsightly and dangerous hole in our hillside, where instead should stand the warm and welcoming home that Berta carefully tended, ready to welcome the next family it will nurture.

The demolition of this house, so integral to the fabric of our neighborhood, will leave a terrible scar. We must stop Bicon from demolishing 21 Yale Terrace so we can work to ensure the return of that parcel to a residential use.

We are short on time. There is a hold on demolition through the end of March, but absent mayoral intervention, we will lose this house in early April.

Please join the Yale Terrace Neighborhood Association in our mission to preserve the historic residential character of our neighborhood, and ask Mayor Walsh to order the denial of any demolition permit Bicon wants for 21 Yale Terrace.

Liz O’Connor on behalf of The Yale Terrace Neighborhood Association

Jamaica Plain

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