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Landmarks staff opposes protections for Dainty Dot [Jul. 24th, 2007|11:44 am]
New England Structures and Buildings



The Boston Landmarks Commission staff has recommended against giving the 118-year-old Dainty Dot building on the edge of Chinatown protection with official landmark status. But, siding with other preservation groups and fans of the Romanesque Revival and Classical-style building in the city's former textile district, the staff urged the current developer to try to save the six-story structure.

Developer Ori Ron has proposed building a 29-story residential tower on the site, but intends to preserve about half of the building's exterior bays, which will remain along Essex and Kingston streets under a modern glass structure. However, in recent weeks Ron has indicated to city officials and community members he is willing to shorten the building to a height more acceptable than the 350-foot tower he proposed earlier.

The Boston Landmarks Commission will meet tonight to hear comments on the staff's 35-page report, which concludes the former hosiery manufacturing building "does not appear to meet the criteria for Landmark designation." The staff noted that more than half of the original structure was demolished during the 1950s, when the Central Artery was constructed, reducing the building's physical integrity and architectural significance. Without a landmark designation for the building, the commission would have no leverage to influence what Ron does with the building.

The Massachusetts Historical Commission, after an emergency meeting July 11, disagreed with the conclusion of the Landmarks commission staff, arguing that the Dainty Dot building is significant precisely because of the damage that was done to it during construction of the Central Artery.

The Boston Preservation Alliance also takes that view, having written last spring to the Boston Redevelopment Authority that the building remains "an important contributor to the rich heritage of the 19th century industrial loft buildings in the Leather and Textile Districts of Boston."

Both groups' opinions are only advisory. David Seeley, a Leather District resident and member of the Mayor's Central Artery Completion Task Force, opposes Ron's tower and wants to see the existing building designated as a landmark. "One reason it was not recommended was that so much of it was demolished," Seeley said yesterday. "It's very sad that because we screwed up before it now leaves this building even more vulnerable." "If they demolish the portions they're currently slated to demolish, it would be tragic," he said. "I don't think there's anyone in the Leather District who wants to see any harm come to this building."

A spokesman for the developer, Michael K. Vaughan, reiterated Ron's pledge to save what he could, recognizing "the history and character of the building. Our expectation is the whole building will not be retained." On the new building's height Vaughan said, "There will be an adjustment in height and materials to reflect the comments that we've heard."

Several weeks ago Mayor Thomas M. Menino said 29 floors is too tall for the area, which is immediately adjacent to the new Chinatown Park on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. The Landmarks commission will take comments from the public for three days after its meeting. It is expected to vote on the Dainty Dot status in about two weeks.

By Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff | July 24, 2007
SRC: http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2007/07/24/landmarks_staff_opposes_protections_for_dainty_dot?mode=PF