Features

The Big White House

Neighborhood meeting recap

It was a packed auditorium last night at South Boston Catholic Academy to discuss the demolition of 928 East Broadway. Developer Rocco Scippa, from Middleton, was up against a passionate crowd that is clearly tired with back room real estate development deals.  Scippa is proposing the demolition of the large white house which has been a beloved South Boston landmark for over 100 years.  

Neighbors voiced concerns about lack of knowledge of the initial meeting regarding the property which was held at MCM properties this past August.  Few neighbors were invited.  When asked about about an alternative proposal other than demolition and building of 11 condominium units, Scippa did not have one available which only infuriated the crowd more.  There were many heated exchanges and Scippa said he would create an alternative proposal for a future community meeting.

A public hearing will be held at the Boston Landmark Commission at City Hall on April 9th at 5:45pm to discuss a 90 day delay on demolition.

A petition is circulating to save the property at 928 East Broadway.  You can sign an online version here: http://www.maureendahill.com/petition_928_e_broadway

Editorial commentary: It is clear that something needs to be done to save South Boston from becoming completely transient.  It is the possibility of great South Boston landmarks like 928 East Broadway and St. Augustine’s Church disappearing that make us as a community stop and take notice that something needs to be done about the current development processes in place.  A select  few are profiting from these deals at the expense of our neighborhood.  Ultimately, we want our families and future families to stay living in South Boston.  They are the rich, strong fiber that keeps this community together.   
 

You'll Also Like

Latest Property Listings

About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.

Comments

  1. Why do they all demolition all the olds homes in South Boston they should keep them.

     

  2. Because it’s all about the money!  They are selling off South Boston one house at time.  Developers and real estate agents are making a ton of money at the cost of our neighborhood.  When does it stop?  When all the families have moved away?

     

  3. In the immortal words of Joni Mitchell, here’s what we should fear: 

     

    “Don’t it always seem to go

    That you don’t know what you’ve got

    Till it’s gone

    They paved paradise

    And put up a parking (condo!) lot.”

  4. After reading the article, it’s no surprise that MCM Properties is named.  Some people will do anything to make a profit and sell their neighborhood.  Plus, the developer is from Middleton.  Why would he even care what we think?  It is time for a change and our elected officials need to get involved.

  5. I don’t understand what the issue is with some of the “old school” residents of South Boston. If you don’t like “outsiders” coming into “your” neighborhood and buying up and beautifying the run down shitholes, then do something about it. I for one, love the fact that these “yuppies” are coming in and rehabing, my parents 2 family he on L St was appraised at $43k in 1991, today, it’s $600k.  THANK YOU YUPPIES, BUILDERS AND EVERYONE ELSE INVESTING IN SOUTH BOSTON.

  6. This Scippa character is not the real owner! The owner and the realtor who will make all the money from condo-ing this property are from Southie! Don’t blame the yuppies buy them. The realtor is also “in bed” with a local politician and his family. Guess who? His mother, father and brother work for her and are pictured every week with her in a local paper.
  7. The same thing is happening on East Fourth street with the Fitzgerald VFW Post. The seller refuses to attend the very few meetings that have taken place and some of the surviving members of the post claim to have no knowledge of what is going on. Abutters have offered to purchase the grass lot next to the post to create off street parking and help ease a community that is starving for parking spaces. Local pols claim to have South Boston residents best interests at heart but so far the only project I’ve heard of being stopped was the one in Steve Lynchs backyard.
  8. I think the most infuriating thing about this developer from Middleton is it’s perfectly ok to knock down a century old city structure with no regard to the community, but if a Boston developer went to Middleton and wanted to make all this abandoned farmland an asphalt paradise or put a mall on top of some century old farmland it be a different story. The mentality that historical city structures won’t be missed, that they have no worth to the community is aggravating and down right disrespectful.

    I’m all for fair trade and people making money, but the rate we’re going there won’t be any old structures left in  South Boston, never mind Boston itself. If I wanted to live in a neighborhood with cookie cutter cul de sacs I’d move to the suburbs. 

  9. This issue has nothing to do with rehabbing a run-down property.  This is a beautiful, majestic house that doesn’t need to be torn down, and it should be preserved.   Oh sure…your parents owned a two-family.  Your comments are typical of the “we made your town better” mentality.   

  10. Everyone complaining about this needs to take a minute and think about what it means to be an American.  Are you really proposing that an owner of private property should be halted from doing what he wants, because you like the look of the old building?  

    Everyone in Boston reaps the benefits of capitalism.  If you’re going to start picking and choosing who gets to do what with thier own property, you’re opening a box that’s very difficult to close.  Do you the goverment (the city, state, federal) to start stepping in telling you what you can and cannot do with your stuff?

    If you have car that I think is cool, can I tell you’re not allowed to sell it, because I like it?  If you don’t like that the nieghborhoods changing, you need to point your fingers at the people who are selling.. not buying.  The buyers are just playing thier roles in the economic system.  The sellers are the Southie residents who are cashing in your heritage.

  11. I’m not sure what the big deal is! I understand the white house has been a part of Southie but times are changing! People have the right to sell there homes and the people who buy them can do “what is a matter of right to property” If it wasn’t for these “YUPPIES/SOUTHIE PEOPLE” coming in and rehabing the houses, southie wouldn’t be a place people desire to live! Why don’t the people of Southie clean all the DRUGS out, focus on something that is killing so many kids & adults … just saying 

  12. Let’s get our facts straight before damaging a good family’s name.  True,. the Collins do work for MCM but they have been friends with Marianne before Marianne began her real estate business.  I am no fan of Marianne Crush but do admire and like Jimmy and Mary Collins.  They should not be pulled into the white house demolition debate.  I am also confident Nick Collins will support the community in our effort to save this beautiful landmark.  By the way, I will put a tent on the front lawn of the white house before I let it be sacrificed for a lot of money. 

  13. This issue has nothing to do with rehabbing run-down properties.  This house is a beautiful and majestic structure.  It should be preserved, not torn down.  Your parents owned a two family?  Oh sure, they did.   To those overanalyzing the petition, it’s not a binding contract, people!  If you have doubts about signing it, then don’t.  The residents who are passionate about saving it from being demolished will. 

  14. As someone said earlier dont blame the people buying the units, its the backroom deals and real estate developers making a quick buck for the past 20 years.   As for the guy in Middleton, Why should he care?  He has no ties here.  Its time for the community to stand up to the developers and not make it so easy for them, which is what I hope is happening now. Renovating a 3 family is a little different than tearing down historic houses to build a bunch of units.  The enemy is within.  I never understood blaming the Yuppies for buying property.  They’re investing in the neighborhood, not the ones making a fortune selling it.  Who are the real people behind this deal ?

     

  15. The issue, BWH, is that there are a limited number of iconic structures (e.g. churches, boathouses, monuments, commercial buildings, houses) that add charm and character to South Boston.  The issue here isn’t over renovating something.  It’s about TEARING DOWN something that is truly unique to the neighborhood, an “Icon”, if you will, and replacing it with something that’s not likely to have half the charm.  There is plenty of work to do in South Boston filling in existing open spaces, and rehabbing many, many properties in need.  But tear down an existing iconic structure?  This would just  be irresponsible and craven.

  16. Does anyone know what private property means? The owner should be able to do what they like with their property. They own it, not the community. For a building to have historical significance, it must do so beyond the local community, and that is at the city level at a minimum. No one outside of city point cares about this house. This is just a typical NIMBY (not in my backyard) reaction. The owner should be able to do whatever he wants with the existing property.  The same goes with the former St. Augustine’s (stop calling it a Church, the Archdiocese of Boston sold it).  

    It is a different story with any new structure he decides to put on the property. At that point there should be community input, assuming that the new structure(s) will not meet existing zoning ordinances.  

  17. SEEMS TO ME YOU DO NOT CARE ABOUT PRESERVING HOMES THAT ARE HISTORICAL AT ALL.WE MUST HAVE SOME HOMES TO BE SAVED FOR HISTORYS SAKE.THAT HOME HAS BEEN THERE SINCE YOU WERE BORN AND OR I.IF YOUR PARENTS ARE ALIVE THEY WOULD SIDE WITH COMMUNITY AND SAY LEAVE SOME HISTORICAL HOMES ALONE.ENOUGH HAS BEEN DONE IN SOUTHIE THAT HAVE FORCED MANY TO LEAVE FOR SUBURBS.WAKE UP WHAT IF IT WAS YOUR PARENTS HOUSE WOULD YOU SAY TEAR IT DOWN.I THINK NOT.

  18. Two articles regarding Developer Rocco Scippa

     

    From Boston Business Journal Real Estate Daily
    Eric Convey, managing editor
    A developer of affordable and mid-priced housing whose principal at one point drew fire from state investigators for his role in at least two projects filed Friday to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code.

    Commonwealth Commons LLC is one of several companies founded or run by Rocco Scippa. The company and Scippa list the same Middleton address.

    Commonwealth Commons listed assets and debts both in the range of $1 million to $10 million. The company is represented in the bankruptcy by attorney Barry R. Levine of Beverly. He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

    In late 2007, state investigators with the Office of the Inspector General criticized Scippa for failing to accurately disclose his role in — and potential profit from — projects.

    Neither Scippa nor Commonwealth Commons has a listed telephone number in Middleton
     

    Re: How 40B is abused – “Developer’s Pigfest”

    Postby bferrari on Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:26 pm

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massac … d_profits/

    IG says builders hid profits
    Probe examines low-cost housing

    By Christine McConville and Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | February 4, 2007

    Developers of five affordable housing projects in Massachusetts concealed nearly $4 million in profits by grossly inflating their costs and understating revenues, according to an investigation by Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan, who is calling for money to be returned to local taxpayers.

    Three of the developers, who built projects in Acton, Berkley, and Reading, each exceeded the 20 percent profit limit set in Chapter 40B, the state’s controversial affordable housing law, Sullivan said in an interview.

    Michael Jeanson and James Fenton, developers of the Acton project, made a profit of nearly 56 percent, Sullivan said, and reported dubious expenses, including $3,200 for carpeting that one of the partners installed in his summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

    The inspector general is midway through his review of 10 affordable housing projects he selected as representative of the hundreds built in Massachusetts this decade.

    His is the first state agency to examine the housing program, which has spurred at least 400 developments and more than $1 billion in construction since 2000. Under the law, developers are exempt from local zoning requirements in exchange for agreeing to set aside some of their housing units as affordable. The developers are required to limit their profits from the projects to no more than 20 percent, and turn over any profits that exceed that to the local community.

    Already, Sullivan said, a pattern is emerging: Developers use a variety of tactics to conceal their profits, including exaggerating land costs and hiring companies in which they have a financial interest as subcontractors, then paying the subcontractors excessive amounts to inflate the project’s expenses. In addition, he said, some developers are “permit brokering — buying land and securing the coveted 40B permit from the community, then selling the suddenly more valuable land and the permit to another developer at a significant profit, without reporting those profits to the state.

    Sullivan said the developers of the Acton project, and those in Berkley and Reading, should repay a total of $1.6 million to the towns that released them from their local zoning rules. He has sent letters to the three communities, describing his findings and recommending they pursue reimbursement from the developers.

    It is not clear what steps Sullivan, who expects to complete his investigation this spring, may take to enforce his findings. The inspector general, in cases where he believes criminal violations have occurred, may refer the matter to the state attorney general’s office.

    Sullivan would not comment on future plans, saying he is focused on finishing the probe. “There are good developers out there, but there are also unscrupulous developers who abuse the system,” he said.

    Officials in Acton said they have begun negotiations with Jeanson and Fenton as a result of Sullivan’s findings. Reading officials said they are discussing the inspector general’s recommendations with their town counsel. Berkley officials, who were sent the letter just last week, could not be immediately reached.

    The inspector general found that developers of two other projects, in Leominster and Wareham, also concealed profits, though they did not exceed the 20 percent limit. The Leominster developers reported losses when the project made a profit of more than 14 percent, he said. The developer in Wareham claimed to make just 1 percent when the project had a 17 percent profit, he said.

    The projects reviewed by Sullivan were Crossroads in Acton; the Preserve at Padelford Woods in Berkley; Lancaster Estates in Leominster; Sumner Cheney condominiums in Reading; and Cedar Farm Estates in Wareham.

    Several of the developers challenged his findings.

    Brian Hurley, a lawyer for Jeanson and Fenton, denied that his clients made a profit of almost 56 percent. Hurley said it cost them $396,334 to prepare the Acton land for 12 condominiums, rather than the $40,000 estimated by Sullivan, which was based on his review of a similarly sized development. But the inspector general said the developers rebuffed repeated requests for invoices to back up the $396,334, which he said was paid to a subcontractor that the developers have a financial interest in.

    A second lawyer for Jeanson and Fenton, Diane McGlynn, acknowledged that Jeanson submitted the $3,200 carpet that was installed in Jeanson’s vacation home as a project expense, but blamed it on a billing error by the carpet firm. McGlynn said Jeanson and Fenton have hired an accountant to review Sullivan’s findings.

    In 2004, in a separate case, Jeanson and Fenton paid Boxborough $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit after the town alleged they made a 45 percent profit on a 40B project, Boxborough Meadows. Jeanson told the Globe the developers never admitted wrongdoing in settling the case.

    The inspector general, who last year said “40B has been a pig fest” for unscrupulous developers, began his probe of the 10 projects in the fall of 2005 and hired an auditing firm to scrutinize them as a sampling of 40B projects.

    Sullivan said the state agency responsible for enforcing the affordable housing law, the Department of Housing and Community Development, has provided little scrutiny of the program. The agency, he said, has until recently largely outsourced scrutiny of the developments’ finances to the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, an advocacy group that has championed the 40B law on Beacon Hill.

    That association stopped reviewing project finances in the fall of 2005, amid criticism that it was too favorable to developers.

    Tina Brooks, whom Governor Deval Patrick appointed last month to oversee the Department of Housing and Community Development, said she planned to meet with Sullivan in coming weeks to discuss his findings.

    The 40B law was enacted by the Legislature in 1969. In its early years, it was mainly used by nonprofits and religious groups to build low-cost housing, and drew little controversy.

    In 1999, however, a court ruling greatly expanded the funding sources that could be used under the program, and for-profit developers began flooding in.

    As open space in Massachusetts has dwindled and developers have increasingly turned to 40B as a major tool for building housing, the debate over the law has intensified.

    Some longtime residents have complained that the projects generate too much traffic, mar communities by bypassing zoning regulations, and use too many municipal services, especially schools, since the projects frequently draw young families.

    Supporters say a dearth of low-cost housing has prompted families and young people to leave the state, and that the law has been a vital tool to address that trend.

    Despite the cool real estate market, approximately 450 of the developments are planned or under construction, according to a recent Globe review.

    In addition to the findings in Acton, Sullivan outlined the problems in the other communities. They include:

    Berkley: Developer Paul Cusson bought land in 1998, secured a 40B permit for it, and then sold both the land and the permit, for a $500,000 profit, to a second developer. The second developer, Rod Mitchell, did not include Cusson’s profits when calculating the project’s final profits. Mitchell also paid Cusson nearly $120,000 to find buyers for 11 affordable units, which Sullivan said was excessive.

    Cusson, in a telephone interview, said he got “lucky” with the land sale, and said he did extensive work for the $120,000 fee. Mitchell accused Sullivan of “stretching his findings.”

    Reading: In October 2000, developer Rocco Scippa bought land on Main Street for $270,000. That same month, Scippa formed another company, which applied to the town for a 40B project on the site. In its application, the company presented a purchase and sales agreement for the land, which showed it planned to buy the land from Scippa for $600,000. However, Sullivan said, Scippa never disclosed his role in the company.

    After the town approved the permit, Scippa then sold the land — and the permit — to another developer, Donald Van Dyne, for $580,000, and Scippa walked away with a $310,000 profit.

    Scippa could not be reached by the Globe. However, Patrick Wood, a lawyer for Van Dyne, in a letter to Sullivan, disputed the inspector general’s findings. Van Dyne and Wood did not return phone calls from the Globe.

    Leominster: Developer Jay Casey, a longtime owner of a Lancaster Street property, applied for a 40B permit in August 2001. In his application, Casey said he would develop the land, which he said was worth $100,000. But two months after he secured the permit, he sold the land and the permit to another builder, Peter Bovenzi, for $1.3 million. Sullivan said while Bovenzi was upfront about his project’s costs, Casey’s profits — of more than $1 million — should have been included in the project’s overall profits reported to the state.

    Bovenzi did not return phone calls seeking comment. Casey declined comment.

    Wareham: Developer Matthew Dacey loaned money from the construction company he owns, Champion Builders, to the 40B project he was building, Cedar Farm Estates. He then charged the project 10 percent interest on the loan and listed that interest as a project expense. In addition, Dacey paid his construction company $971,000 in construction costs, which Sullivan said was excessive.

    Dacey, in an interview with the Globe, said he supports the inspector general’s efforts to scrutinize the 40B developments, because he does not want to see the law abused. He said he is not contesting Sullivan’s findings, which still found he made less than 20 percent profit.

    “As an avenue to provide housing, done the correct way, 40B can be a very good thing,” Dacey said. “But rules need to be put in place to protect those guys who are trying to do it right.” 

     

     

     

     

     

  19. Hey Southie Logic…I hope you took the time to read the Fraud involved with this “Developer” which is posted below! Oh, and your “Car” hypothesis is child-like!

  20. It is in fact our Elected Officials that are Capitalizing on this assault on Southie. More specifically, Nick Collins and his Real Estate Family,and Bill Linehan with his Developer “Friends” lining up to give him Money for his Campaigns. Wake up People. You are this ones that are electing these turncoats! Check where their Campaign Contrabutions are coming from. It’s Public Record. These slime-balls are talking out both sides of their Mouths.

  21. Does anyone have credible info on what the
    Status of this is now? Tear down? ( I hope not) turn into
    Condos? Any solid info would be appreciated!