Raymond Street teardown has neighbors riled up

This is a terrible story about the fate of the charming home at 34 Raymond Street at the corner of Raymond and Westford. This house, on a large (16,144 sq ft) lot, was assessed by the City for $483,400. It was bought in May of 2007 by Richard Garaffo, president of Avary R.T.G.. Inc., a real-estate developer based at 355 Western Avenue. Garaffo paid $950,000 for the property, which is quite a premium over its assessed value. This house was a beautiful part of the neighborhood and would have been a wonderful home to raise a family. One can imagine children playing in the yard, a large vegetable and flower garden, and a house with distinctive architectural details.

But Mr. Garaffo didn't pay almost a million dollars to raise a family here. According to the Globe, his plan is two buildings with a total of 24 to 27 bedrooms and 14 parking spaces. That however, would seem to be in conflict with our zoning code that requires 2 parking spaces per unit for buildings with more than 9 units. This could only be in accordance with that requirement if Garaffo plans to build 7 units with 3-4 bedrooms each.

Sure Boston needs more housing. And there is plenty of land in our neighborhood where housing could be built in a way very compatible with the rest of the neighborhood. (hint - Harvard owns most of it). But the destruction of 34 Raymond St hardly seems to be good for this neighborhood and far from compatible with the idea of making Boston a better city for people to settle down and raise a family.

Back in 2002, this Harvard Crimson article also mentioned Mr. Garaffo:
Richard Garaffo, owner of a Soldiers Field Road building that he says is the “first acquisition Harvard made,” is planning to relocate to another Allston location.

He says he is looking forward to seeing the changes that Harvard could make to the neighborhood.

“The area itself to me could really use a change and a face-lift,” Garaffo said.
Teardown has neighbors riled up - The Boston Globe

Raymond tear-down began without asbestos removal - http://www.townonline.com/allston/homepage/x266589908

Thanks to watchful neighbors - http://www.townonline.com/allston/opinions/x737609631

9 comments:

  1. How can this guy, who is clearly a horrible greedy jerk with no interest in the neighborhood except dollar signs, be permitted to build such densely-packed units on a lot of that size w/o building over any height restrictions? Clearly this is housing to be overpriced and targeted to students, no?
    It is a little scary that if one smaller developer can act this way, what could Harvard do?

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  2. This house is within sight of my front door and words can't express how outraged I feel about the whole thing. Unmentioned anywhere are the three giant maple trees which he "logged" immediately upon taking ownership. I'm sick of people who would never live in my neighborhood (it's beneath them) coming in to try to make money off Harvard's expansion. They should be taxed, fined, and shamed until it's no longer worth their time. I only hope that Garafo's environmental cleanup cuts deeply into his bottom line.

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  3. Anonymous2:09 PM

    It is a shame to see one of the few single family homes in the area demolished. Don't let the property owners who sold the property for $950,000 to a developer off the hook either.

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  4. I live very close to this home, and mentioned it in an earlier comment regarding the issue of on street parking.

    While it is distressing to see an old home, and the trees removed - I have to respect the rights of private citizens to sell their home to who they choose and for buyers to do with as they please with the property so long as it conforms with local laws and regulations.

    That being said, I don't think that it's clear the developer is doing so. It appears he may be out of accordance with parking requirements, environmental abatement, and who knows what else. The real issue here isn't more taxes/regulations/fines - but ENFORCEMENT of what is on the books already. I'm glad to see at least the asbestos issue is being addressed, now I just hope that the city keeps a watchful eye to make sure he is in accordance with everything else along the way.

    Now, one thing I hope everyone in the neighborhood does is look into possible civil action regarding the asbestos. Ignoring the statutes and the generally reckless nature that seems to surround this development project should be noted in the event that anyone in the area that has been exposed to the asbestos particles. I'm not even sure there needs to be an immediate injury as the consequences from exposure could come many years later. If anyone really wants to put a nail in the coffin, this might do it.

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  5. I used to work for Avary and I knew Mr. Garaffo, and although I sometimes didn't agree with his business practices, I know for a fact he and the company has a long history of historical renovation and restoration projects. So be fore you condemn a man for trying to make a buck (sorry, progress is inevitable, deal with it!), understand what they’ve done. Here’s a list of some of the histrorical projects he’s done:
    Honorable Mention - Historical Renovations
    2000 National Builder Award Competition - Associated Builders and Contractors Charles Street Inn, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA
    1st Place, Eagle Award - Historical Renovations
    2000 Massachusetts Builder Award Competition - Associated Builders and Contractors Charles Street Inn, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA
    1st Place, Merit Award - Historical Renovations
    1999 Massachusetts Builder Award Competition - Associated Builders and Contractors Bank of Boston, Dudley Street, Roxbury, MA
    1st Place, State House Builder Award - Historical Renovations
    1993 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Historical Renovation Award
    Burrage House, Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
    1st Place, Excellence in Construction - Historical Renovations
    1992 Massachusetts Builder Award Competition - Associated Builders and Contractors Burrage House, Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
    National Historical Register/Historical Projects
    2001 Church of the Advent - Beacon Hill, Boston, MA
    2001 Charles Street Inn - Beacon Hill, Boston, MA
    2000 Greater Framingham Community Church - Framingham, MA
    1998 Arlington Street Church - Boston, MA
    1994 Elliot Street Historical Area, Natick, MA
    1993 Burrage House - Boston, MA
    1989 Theatre-by-the-Sea - Matunuck, RI

    Ask yourself this, how many people does Avary employ? How many families benefit because of company? Given his history of restoration projects, is he a developer who hasn’t added value to the restoration community? How many MORE people will benefit because they now get to live in a better location? Growth is inevitable, sorry, land is too expensive not develop it. Am I a fan of Mr. Garraffo or Avary? No, but I am a fan of free enterprise. Next time do a little research before you condem a man for making a living AND providing livings for many families.

    Signed
    A-Man

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  6. Anonymous2:06 PM

    I am glad to see new housing in the neighborhood.

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  7. Anonymous6:53 PM

    here's another feather in Garaffo's renovation cap just like the long list of award winning restoration projects he won, oh wait a minute, no no, this one is just a teardown of a historic home and old growth trees for new condos which cover almost every square inch of the property, well done! he may employ a lot of people but he also is good at destruction so I guess I don't care how many people he employs to destroy things

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  8. Anonymous7:10 PM

    Tearing something down isn't progress, deal with that! And why should we in the neighborhood care about any of his other supposed great works if the only result we see is beautiful yard destroyed, an overpopulated building and no parking, sorry but try and deal with that! I think sometimes "progress" is just code for "wrecked" and "gone for good"

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  9. This is not fair.How can these guy do this.I think owner take a action against him.

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