PROVINCETOWN — The historic district commission and the zoning board of appeals have approved the demolition of a 140-year-old cottage in the historic district and its replacement with a new structure.
The decisions about the dilapidated house at 419 Commercial St. had not yet been filed with the town clerk as of Tuesday. Once they are filed, a 20-day appeal period will begin. Developer Christine Barker can apply for demolition and building permits when the appeals deadline has passed.
The historic district commission narrowly approved Barker’s application for demolition and reconstruction in a 3-2 vote on Feb. 17. Chair Thomas Biggert, member John Dowd, and alternate member Michela Carew-Murphy voted in favor. Christopher Mathieson and Laurie Delmolino were opposed.
While it is rare for the commission to approve demolition of a historic building, the majority were convinced there was no choice, based on a presentation by structural engineer Lars Jensen in which he pointed out numerous problems that, he said, rendered the building a public safety hazard.
The commission held off on approving the demolition until architect Jeffry Burchard unveiled the latest design for the replacement building.
“We got an agreement from the owner that the replacement building for the site was guaranteed to be a restoration of the original structure from the turn of the century,” Dowd wrote in an email.
During the meeting, architect Burchard said the front of the building, facing Commercial Street, received a “substantial redesign” in the latest plan, “matching inch for inch the existing building and profile.” The gambrel-roof portion of the building, including the bulging bay window, will match existing dimensions.
The addition in back, which replaces a section of the building that was previously demolished, along with some added square footage, will be topped by a gable roof. The back of the building, which faces the harbor, will be essentially all glass. Decks on the harbor side will match the contemporary design of the back addition.
A shortening of the addition and a redesign of the stairway from the deck address concerns that neighbors had raised, Burchard said.
While commission members generally liked the mix of old and new, defined by the change in roof line, Delmolino and Mathieson lobbied for postponing the vote for two weeks while some suggested tweaks were added to the design.
Dowd spoke against delay. “We have a world class architect presenting something which is very well thought out and very well considered, and we’re playing with it like we know better,” he said. “As a trained architect, I know what goes into a design.”
The board asked Barker whether she preferred that the commission take the vote that night, though it wouldn’t be unanimous, or wait two weeks to give Delmolino and Mathieson more time to view plan updates. Barker opted to have the vote taken.
On Feb. 18, the zoning board of appeals unanimously approved a special permit for demolition and reconstruction of the Commercial Street house and a special permit to deviate from the height standard of 28 feet for gambrels to accommodate a roof slightly over 32 feet high.
The decision of the ZBA is being written up and will be reviewed and finalized by members on March 4.