3-year-old hole to be filled with house

David Taber

Gazette File Photo by John Swan Major work at the lot at 248 Chestnut Ave. was stopped by the Inspectional Services Department in April 2007 for lack of building permits.

CENTRAL JP—Property owner Dan Nakamoto plans to begin construction on a multi-family house where he had a foundation dug three years ago, and this time he has permits.

In March 2007, Nakamoto hired a contractor to build a multi-family house at 248 Chestnut Ave. But work was quickly stopped when city officials determined that he had failed to properly subdivide that lot from the property he owns at 244 Chestnut, and that he had not received construction permits.

This time around, he has a new contractor, Life House Construction & Development, and, according to city officials, all of his paperwork is in order, including a required Boston Redevelopment Authority design review.

That was a source of a little frustration for neighbors who attended a Feb. 11 meeting with Nakamoto and Rich Cifuni of Life House—organized by City Councilor John Tobin’s Office—and were disappointed that they have little leverage with the owner.

“So it’s a done deal?” said Ivan Borja of 218 Chestnut.

And the answer to that was pretty much, “Yes.” One of the main concerns from the neighbors was about whether the builders would commission an engineering study before chipping off a piece of a Roxbury puddingstone ledge that stands in the way of the house’s planned footprint.

“You can request one…but if it is not required” the builders can’t be forced to do anything, said Colleen Keller from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

Some of the neighbors were concerned that the process of removing the ledge would disrupt the foundations of their own homes, which are also built into the ledge. One neighbor downhill on Lamartine Street was concerned that the stress on the ledge would create cracks and fissures that would send water draining down and exacerbate flooding problems in his basement.

“I will see if there are any requirements regarding Roxbury puddingstone,” Keller said.

“We are talking about a tiny piece of ledge,” Cifuni said. The exact dimensions are 10 feet by 3 feet. The foundation will have to be set 4 feet underground. Cifuni said he was not sure how deep the ledge goes.

He said he would check in with his engineer about any possible concerns and report back to the group.

Houses are built into puddingstone “all across the Commonwealth,” Cifuni said.

In the meantime, Life House was planning to begin construction “within two weeks,” he said.

The meeting was called to review the contractor’s construction plan—a major concern for abutters following the failed attempt and resultant hole three years ago—and much of the meeting was devoted to an informal conversation about that.

The “modular” three-family house will mostly be constructed off-site and will be trucked into the neighborhood in six pieces, Cifuni said.

Three or four days of potential serious inconvenience for the neighborhood will come at the beginning of the project: over two days when the ledge-section is being removed and over a day when the house sections are being loaded onto the site.

During loading, the street will be blocked off “for 15- to 30-minute intervals” throughout the day, he said.

Most of the exterior work should be done on the house in the first 30 days of the planned six-month construction process, he said.

He said he would post a “bulletin board or a box” on the site to keep neighbors apprised of developments throughout construction.

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