House demo put on hold

GLENVALE PARK—The Boston Landmarks Commission last week slapped a 90-day delay on the demolition of a 130-year-old vacant Chestnut Avenue house in the hopes that the developer and the neighborhood could agree on an alternative plan.

But Pat McKenna, who wants to turn 207 Chestnut Ave. into two new two-family houses, told the Gazette that he can’t afford to keep meeting and will go ahead with his plan.

Asked if the plan must be four units or nothing for him, McKenna said, “Yeah, definitely.”

“I’m going to be hated no matter what I do,” he said. “If I could sell [the property] now, I would.”

The Glenvale Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA), which formed due to concerns about McKenna’s project, was “delighted and relieved” by the BLC’s June 14 unanimous decision, said GPNA leader Sara Warren. The group delivered a 150-signature petition opposing the demo.

“The GPNA has made it clear to the developer that we want to work with him to develop a project that improves the site and meets his needs as well as the community’s needs,” Warren said.

Neighbors are concerned about the project’s looks, as well as the loss of trees and possible damage to nearby houses from drilling rock for foundations. They have called for preserving the existing house and adding a large addition.

“I know the neighborhood wants a single-family there, but it’s economically infeasible,” McKenna said.

He maintains that the house is “structurally unsound” and repair would be so expensive that he would have to sell it for more than $1 million to make a profit. The current market won’t support that price, he said.

McKenna presented smaller alternative designs to the BLC. But those are also infeasible, because they would require zoning variances, he said. The delay in building would be too expensive for his investment, he said. His four-unit plan requires no variances.

After 90 days, McKenna is free to demolish the house without BLC permission. The only other required step is a review of the new buildings’ design by the Boston Redevelopment Authority because the property falls under the Glenvale Park Neighborhood Overlay District. That is a special zoning district that requires city review of construction to make sure it fits with the neighborhood character.

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