Taylor Street Wooden House Renovations Blocked by Neighborhood

The home currently under construction. The north facade has been preserved.

When Ramy Rizkalla bought his new home on Taylor Street, he knew it’d be a long road to renovation. That’s because the home, which he originally believed was built in the mid-1800s with original ornamentation and features and would be heavily protected by city agencies. 

That was before he found out most of what you see on the home today was built in the 1970s. 

“None of the windows, none of the ornamentation, none of the mouldings, none of it is original,” Rizkalla said. “All of that was added in the 70s and 80s.”

And therein lies the solution — and the problem. The renovations, which were approved over an 18-month process through the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Boston Landmarks Commission, and the South End Historical Society, were blocked this week due to neighborhood concerns.

“That’s one of the biggest problems – there really is a substantial misunderstanding of what people are looking at, and what is truly historic,” Rizkalla said. “We have all the necessary approvals but I think there’s been a need for clarification.”

Until the situation is resolved, the site will stay as a façade and a hole in the ground, a far cry from the owner’s original intentions. 

“I saw a tremendous amount of potential of what could be done,” Rizkalla said, who said the biggest reason for the full renovation of the property was his interest in contributing to the streetscape in Boston.

“We really are great appreciators of architecture, and the opportunity to  continue to integrate contemporary architectures with historic neighborhoods was so alluring to us,” he said. 

Renovation Plans
The original property is split into two properties, 8 Taylor St. and 10 Taylor St. 8 Taylor St. is the existing home and 10 Taylor St. is a parking space. According to Scott Slarsky, the project’s architect, the idea of the project is to make the home into a single family house, expanding from 2400 square feet to 3400 square feet, and preserve the only historically significant piece of the home, the house’s north elevation, he said. 

“It will be a gorgeous project,” Slarksy said. “The completed building will be the first wooden house built in the South End since 1899.”

As for the new parts of the house, Slarsky said the new façade that will face Washington Park was closely researched and planned.

“We worked really closely with the South End Landmarks Commission to have the rhythm and proportions of South End buildings,” he said. 

Next Steps
Rizkalla and Slarksy are now again working with the Landmarks Commission and the Boston Redevelopment authority to clarify the constructon plan to the neighborhood and continue construction on the property. A meeting is planned next week with the Landmarks Comission where both will explain the 12-month construction plan and process. 

“I so deeply believe in the finished product,” Rizkalla said. “I don’t need extra space and it’s not about having a bigger house – it’s really about building architecture in the city of Boston and involving the enviornment and evolving the neighborhood.”

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