Bicon agrees to delay razing of historic house

FOREST HILLS—Bicon Dental Implants has agreed to delay the demolition of a historic house at 21 Yale Terrace for a month to get community input, according to Inspectional Services Department (ISD) spokesperson Lisa Timberlake. The delay follows pressure from residents and City Councilor Ayanna Pressley.

Bicon did not respond to a request for comment.

Bicon Dental Implants, a 501 Arborway business, has a proposal to demolish the 19th century house at 21 Yale Terrace and replace it with a parking garage and townhouses. The property abuts Bicon’s business.

Berta Berriz, the former owner of 21 Yale Terrace, says that she was “deceived” by a buyer who claimed to be a family-minded local grandmother into selling the historic house to the neighboring Bicon Dental Implants. Berriz did not want to sell the house to Bicon.

The project was in a 90-day demolition delay, but that expired April 14. Article 85 of the zoning code allows the Boston Landmarks Commission to impose a delay of 90 days in issuing a demolition permit for a building more than 50 years of age while it reviews possible historic preservation. The developer is free to obtain demolition permits after the 90 days expired.

“Bicon agreed to delay the demolition for one month,” said Timberlake in an email to the Gazette. “They have also agreed to allow the community to review the proposal during the next community meeting.”

Liz O’Connor of the Yale Terrace Neighborhood Association said in an email to the Gazette that the meeting would be April 23, after the Gazette deadline. O’Connor and other neighbors met with ISD commissioner William Christopher on April 17. She said he told them he had asked Bicon to delay the demolition, while a meeting was arranged for both sides to talk.

“We are encouraged by the City’s commitment to working with us and specifically, ISD’s commitment to trying to facilitate a productive discussion between us and Bicon regarding their proposed use of the project,” said O’Connor. “We appreciate the City’s efforts, and we intend to give this process our best shot.”

She said that the neighborhood association’s concern is that the house will be demolished and that the “proposed development of a massive parking structure with hotel-style temporary housing for a professional school cannot be built within the provisions of the Zoning Code, or in such a way as to preserve the residential character of our neighborhood.”

She said the neighborhood association is “grateful” for the support and leadership from City Hall and City Councilors Pressley and Matt O’Malley.

Pressley had sent a strongly-worded letter to ISD asking to delay the demolition. O’Malley spoke to the Gazette at a recent Jamaica Plain event, where he said Bicon’s behavior in buying the home was “offensive to me” and that while it wasn’t “illegal, it was immoral.” He said he “stands with the neighbors.”

O’Malley’s office had backed the community’s concerns at an earlier BLC hearing.

Bicon has a history of controversial expansions and operations that have drawn neighborhood complaints, City citations and City Council hearings, dating back to a 2006 attempt to create a restaurant on the second floor of its office building.

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