Friday, May 27, 2011

Second Historic Neighborhood Centers Project Begins in Fields Corner: The Lenox Building


Just as work is being wrapped up at the Golden Building at 1510-1514 Dorchester Avenue in Fields Corner, we are very happy to report that another Historic Neighborhood Centers facilitated project is now well underway a block away at the Lenox Building.
The lively, art deco style brick and cast stone façade of this 1920 building is a commanding presence on the corner of Dorchester Avenue and Faulkner Street, and this building represents one of the best examples of other masonry buildings of this era and style in the district.


Although improving this building was identified from the start as a neighborhood priority in the 2008 Historic Neighborhood Centers district work plan, HBI’s deep involvement here began early in 2010, when Linda and Jerry Quin—members of the Cappelletti Family Trust, which owns the building—began talking with HBI and Fields Corner Main Street (FCMS) about making significant improvements to the property.

HBI’s Jeff Gonyeau assessed the condition of the structure and prepared a preservation and rehabilitation planning document that identified important architectural features that should be restored and preserved. The plan also advocated the reversal of some unsympathetic changes to the exterior (such as removal of the over-scaled tenant signage that obscures the original sign band, removal of roll down solid security grates, replacement of the mismatched storefront systems at the corner, etc.) and identified various critical repairs that should be made, focusing especially on the brick and cast stone masonry.



This plan not only helped the owners better understand the building’s architectural significance, but also provided a vision for sensible and sensitive improvements that could be made.

Vision and basic scope of work in hand, Linda and Jerry worked with Evelyn Darling at FCMS to receive a $10,000 design assistance grant from the city of Boston’s ReStore program. This grant paid for architect Derek Rubinoff to refine the project scope, further develop the design, and to prepare all of the necessary specifications and drawings to put the project out to bid to contractors.

Realizing that they were now facing an $85,000 façade repair project, the owners applied to the ReStore program for a storefront improvement grant and received $37,500 with the condition that the masonry throughout the façade be cleaned, repaired, and repointed as necessary.

Finally, the two existing tenants worked with FCMS to win a total of $5,000 in signage grants from ReStore. Contractor Kevin Piccinin of K&B Contracting, who is the contractor responsible for the transformation of the Golden Building, won the contract for this work, and HBI will be providing a small amount of gap financing as well as project management support during the construction period.

This $100,000 project represents another attempt by HBI to combine investments by owners, design services and grant funding from the city, and technical assistance and financing from HBI into “high impact” projects that make real and lasting improvements in historic neighborhood commercial districts. We hope this model will be replicable on many more projects not only in the HNC districts, but elsewhere in the city.

The Cappelletti family’s presence in the building began in the 1950s when John Cappelletti opened a dry cleaning shop there. It was called Lenox Cleaners after the name of the street he grew up on in Roxbury—East Lenox Street. The family sold the dry cleaning business years ago but held onto the building. Since the current owner of the dry cleaning shop was planning on winding down that business this spring, the family took advantage of the opportunity to clear out the dated interior fitout of the corner retail space and to prepare it for a new use. It is a large space on a busy corner almost directly adjacent to the Fields Corner stop on the Red Line Ashmont branch.

Linda (Cappelletti) Quin reports that the family is “thrilled” that the project is going forward. “It has been a long process, but we are all very excited to see the outcome.” The Cappellettis hope that this new space—along with the improved look of the entire exterior of the building—will attract a new tenant that will enliven both the building and the district.


Construction should be complete on this project by July 1. So, the question in Fields Corner should be: Which building is next? Stay tuned, and feel free to suggest your favorite candidate—even if it’s your own building!

No comments:

Post a Comment