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Owners make case against giving Grampian Way home landmark status

Posted by Patrick Rosso  September 20, 2013 04:51 PM

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(Image courtesy Boston Landmarks Commission)

The owners of a dilapidated structure on Grampian Way in Dorchester went before the Savin Hill community Thursday night to explain their motivation for seeking to demolish the structure.

The meeting was part of the Boston Landmarks Commission’s Article 85 demolition delay process that goes into effect when a property owner seeks to demolish a structure located in a particular zoning district or a building that is at least 50-years of age.

The property at 24 Grampian Way, dubbed the Kehew-Wright House, is owned by the Tomasini family and was constructed in 1871. In addition to the main single-family house, the three-quarter of an acre property also includes a deteriorating stable.

At any Article 85 public meeting proponents are expected to lay out the condition of the structure and the alternatives to demolition. On Thursday night members of the family spent a large portion of the meeting refuting a report commissioned by Landmarks Commission and describing the massive amount of deterioration the property has suffered.

“This house has been in our family for 63-years,” Chris Tomasini, told the gathering of close to 75 residents. “We’ve been here for the long run.”

The property has been a source of contention for some after a petition was circulated seeking to declare the property a landmark. At a hearing before the Landmarks Commission in August, supporters of making the property a landmark highlighted its ties to William P. Hunt, John Kehew, and George Wright.

Thursday’s meeting, however, was not part of that process, which is expected to have its own hearing before the commission in the coming months.

Chris Tomasini explained Thursday that restoring the property is financially impossible for the family and refuted much of a Landmarks Commission's report , calling it “historical puffery” and saying George Wright is not someone that deserves to be remembered because of his role in “apartheid baseball.”

According to Chris Tomasini, the family has been active in dealing with the property since they inherited it from their late-father.

The property is worth an estimated $395,190, with the land valued at $278,190 and the building valued at $117,000, according to the city’s Assessing Department.

At Thursday’s meeting Chris Tomasini said in 2012 they approached Historic Boston Inc., a non-profit that specializes in rehabbing and protecting historical structures, with the group estimating is would cost close to $1.2-million to fix the home. The group, however, declined to purchase the property. Chris Tomasini also said they have been actively working with the city’s Inspectional Services Department on code and safety violations at the property, which is currently not inhabited.

Although the Tomasinis were forthcoming about the history of the property and the condition it is currently in, there were no discussions about its future aside from the burden the landmarks designation and the cost of rehabbing it would be.

“We’d like to be able to sell this property unencumbered, but the landmarking and Article 85 process restricts that,” Chris Tomasini told residents. “We’re not developers; we don’t have any direct plans for the building.”

The next step in the process is for the Landmarks Commission to hold a public hearing to determine if a demolition delay is appropriate and if it meets landmark qualifications.

At Thursday’s meeting a majority of those in attendance voiced support for the Tomasinis.

A hearing before the Landmarks Commission on the Article 85 process has not been set, nor has a hearing on the landmarking process been scheduled.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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