By Adam Swift
It was a case of almost but not quite for a developer looking to rebuild a six-unit building destroyed by fire on Endicott Avenue at Monday night’s City Council zoning subcommittee meeting.
The subcommittee was on the verge of voting to recommend approval of the special permit for 141-143 Endicott Ave., when abutter Laura Ross noted that the developer and owner of the property, Michael Casoli, had not reached out to her or other neighbors about the changes that had been proposed to the project.
At an earlier public hearing, Ross, who lost her home in the Endicott Avenue fire in 2021, noted that there were issues with Casoli not working with neighbors about issues in the past.
Monday night, Councillor-at-Large Gerry Visconti successfully moved to table the special permit consideration until the developer and his attorney could reach out to Ross and other neighbors.
Attorney Nancy O’Neil noted that the building can be rebuilt as it was by right, but that Casoli was seeking to raise the height of the building by about seven feet to allow for six parking spaces on the first floor.
One of the issues raised at the February hearing by Ross was a proposed roof deck for the building.
“We have consulted with neighbors and Councilor (Joanne) McKenna, and as a result of these discussions, a roof deck is no longer proposed for the top of the building,” said O’Neil. “The main difference between the previous building and the proposed building is the provision of the parking spaces on the ground floor. The previous building had four floors of residential space, and we are proposing four residential stories and one story for parking, which is the ground floor.”
In the previous building, the six units were all two-bedroom rentals. The proposed building would have two two-bedroom and four three-bedroom units. The two-bedroom units would be ADA compliant units on the second floor accessible by elevator.
Additionally, the units would be condominiums rather than rental units.
“The new building will represent a significant improvement over both the previous building and the current vacant lot,” said O’Neil.
While O’Neil said that neighbors had been contacted, Ross said there was no neighborhood meeting, and that she has spoken with other neighbors who are still not happy about the project.
Ross said she was happy the roof deck was off the table, but added that she was still deeply concerned about the size of the building.
“I was under the impression that there had been an agreement with the neighbors and that they had been informed,” said Visconti. “If they haven’t been contacted and no one has reached out to them, then there are still some questions that need to be answered.”