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Historic East Side Development Fails City Inspection

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Renovations at 200 Hope Street recently failed a surprise City inspection

Renovations at the historic Lippitt House at 200 Hope Street failed a surprise city inspection on Friday, following the third stop-work order issued by the city this week for work on the property, which had been lifted on Thursday.

Last week, GoLocal reported that neighbors, as well as community groups and leaders including the Providence Preservation Society and City Councilman Sam Zurier, had been voicing concerns both of the scope of the renovation project, as well as the process.

See Inspection Report HERE

"We conducted an inspection at 9 AM [Friday] morning," said Tony Carvalho, Building Official with the Department of Inspections and Standards. "We found a bunch of things, which they need to correct. It depends on the job, but if you look hard enough, you're going to find something."

Carvalho had recently sent a letter to 200 Hope Street developer David Baskin entitled "unsafe conditions - structural columns basement area," which had prompted a stop-work order, that was lifted on Thursday.

Neighbors Monitoring Process

Carvalho's letter to Baskin took issue with a deviation of the designed structural details in the the original plans as submitted -- which had called for reinforced steel in the basement construction.

Neighbors raised issues with the city when they said they never saw any steel being delivered, rather laminated wood posts that that feared could compromise the historical building's structural integrity.

"I noticed last week that the developers lawyer said there wouldn't be any structural changes to the outside of the property, but there are visible PVC pipes now that weren't there before," said neighboring resident Dawn Robertson. "My office is right next to the parking area, as is my dining room, and living room. A steel delivery would require large trucks and traffic to be stopped -- I have clients who work with steel fabrication, I know what they look like. I asked the City inspector if it was safe, and met code, and I was told it did."

Robertson continued, "My fantasy is that there should be a checklist, for both the contractor and the city, to make this a transparent process. I moved here from Connecticut, where what's happening here just doesn't happen there. I've called an expert on zoning and enforcement from Connecticut to walk me through the process. I'm meeting with someone Monday at Common Cause about this."

"I just want some clarity, to get the bigger picture," said Robertson. "I think this a bigger issue than 200 Hope Street. I want it that so that normal people who aren't developers understand the process."

Housing Court Potential

Both Robertson and Carvalho said there would be potential for the issue to be taken up in Housing Court.

"Tony Carvahlo said what [the neighbors] should do is go to Housing Court, but I don't know how they schedule these things, or how we even find out," said Robertson.

Carvahlo said the likelihood that developer Baskin would end up in housing court was high. "This should be headed to Housing Court because [Baskin] violated stop work order. We're keeping him on a tight leash now. I'm having a hard time keeping him in line. He does good work, but he's running fast and loose," said Carvalho.

Baskin's lawyer John Garrahy with Moses, Afonso, and Ryan, said Friday afternoon he had not heard about the failed inspection.

"I know there was a recent stop work order that was lifted," said Garrahy. "And I know there was a violation of a stop work order previously. The usual course of action is to go to [housing] court with respect to these violations."   


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