The owners of the Bouvier Building in the heart of Everett Square have proposed completely renovating the blighted building – which has been highlighted for an eminent domain taking under Urban Renewal by Mayor Carlo DeMaria – and establishing a 23-room hotel and restaurant to enliven a key corner in the rehabilitation of Everett Square.
But not everyone in City Hall is buying the plan.
The Bouvier family has owned the historic Odd Fellows building (built in 1877) for several years, and filed plans last week with the Planning Board to renovate the building – including adding steel supports and preserving the exterior of the building along with adding modern twists, balconies and three floors of hotel rooms.
The building located at the corner of School and Norwood Streets is at the center of the Everett Square commercial area, an area about to undergo tremendous change under the Everett Square Urban Renewal Plan that is gathering momentum this year.
“We hope that this proposal can serve as a keystone for the forthcoming Everett Square Redevelopment,” says Jeff Bouvier, the building’s owner.
In fact, the Everett Square studies done by the City’s consultants saw the preservation and adaptive reuse of this building as central to that effort.
“We are happy to participate in the rejuvenation of the area and will do our part to provide impetus,” continued Bouvier. “We believe that getting out front of the Everett Square redevelopment with an important beautiful building will provide a great centerpiece to the exciting work ahead…The restaurant, with the City’s greenspace at its front door, can become a real focal point for the community.”
The announcement of the plans come after years of contention around the building, which was deemed unsafe by the City. That has resulted in a years-long case in Superior Court between the City and the Bouvier family about making life-safety improvements in the building – and perhaps selling it to someone that would re-develop it rather than let it sit vacant.
An attorney for the family has refused to comment to the Independent on that case for a number of years.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria identified the Bouvier building and several others during numerous comments in 2019, saying the City would take properties that are blighted and vacant in Everett Square per the powers of Urban Renewal.
With that history in mind, many in City Hall didn’t initially believe that the plan was
“A lot of us in City Hall don’t really believe that’s a real proposal,” said one source.
The consensus by many in City Hall was that the proposal was about seeking to increase the value of the property in the face of a potential eminent domain taking. With a proposal in the works, many felt it would be an easy way to increase the value and prevent the City from taking the building for Urban Renewal at a lower price.
That said, the Bouvier family put forth a complete plan to the Planning Board, which will begin reviewing he proposal at its Jan. 27 meeting.
They have proposed to re-purpose it as a Peter Quinn-designed boutique hotel, using the first floor as a restaurant with the basement as a fully-functioning work area. The floor plans, read the filing, are arranged so that the floor could be extended to other properties to enlarge the hotel if such an expansion next door came to pass.
“The proposed development would remove the existing interior floor configuration while saving the exterior walls,” read the filing. “A new steel structure would be installed to support the new uses. Two partial stories would be added at the attic level with a new roof room. Much of the historic detail on the exterior would be restored and the vertical additions would be imaginatively extended form the existing.
“While the project may appear to be rather modest in scope, the applicant believes that the unique location of the building and its active commercial use will provide a great enhancement for the Everett Square area and will serve as an important cornerstone for the future redevelopment of the Square as contemplated by the City,” continued the filing.
Peter Quinn Architects of Somerville would design the rooms, and no two rooms would be alike, read a release from the Bouvier’s. Each room provides a unique view through different historic windows, arches, added skylights or hidden balconies. A cupola-like roof-top lounge for guests and attic penthouses will be added. Guests will enter the hotel through a ground level lobby with gather-areas and concierge services.
The new hotel and restaurant would have no parking added to it, but the applicants propose to have a curbside drop-off area for ride-share users and for a valet that the hotel would use in conjunction with a privately-owned nearby parking lot. The drop-off zone in the front would also be used for deliveries and trash removal also.
The applicant also gave a nod to the historic nature of the building, saying that restoring it would provide an iconic architectural cornerstone for the Everett Square area.
The post-Civil War building has a storied history. The building was originally designed by George Wallis, who designed many of Everett’s important civic and commercial buildings of the era. In the first few decades it served as a grocery and provision store, the City’s first library, and was most well known as the Odd Fellows Building. A large meeting hall for the Odd Fellows can still be found on the upper levels of the building, though now unoccupied. As time ensued, the building accommodated a multitude of different commercial uses.
Little Caesar’s building proposed for residential development
A Wakefield developer has proposed to demolish the Little Caesar’s pizza shop on Broadway and build a nine-unit, three story building on the property near the Malden line.
Rex E LLC, controlled by Sheriff Abuzahra, of Wakefield, has applied to the City for Zoning Board relief to build the project.
The project would need three pieces of relief, including parking relief. They would provide nine spaces of parking, but need 18 (two per unit).
The will be before the Zoning Board on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.