MA AAB Complaint 66 70 Union Square Plaza Building
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Department of Public Safety Docket Number
Architectural Access Board
One Ashburton Place, Room 1310 (Office Use Only)
Boston Massachusetts 02108-1618
GENERAL BUILDING COMPLAINT FORM
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THIS FORM IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND WILL
BE DISCLOSED UPON REQUEST.
1. What is the name and address of the building believed to be in violation of the Rules and
Regulations of this Board?
Name: _Union Square Plaza Building
Address: _66-70 Union Square
City/Town: _Somerville, MA 02143
2. What is the use of the building (please check one or more)?
____Retail Establishment ____Transient Lodging Facility ____Multiple
Dwelling __x__Commercial Building ____Educational Facility ____Medical
Care Facility ____Place of Assembly ____Detention Facility ____House of
__x__Restaurant ____Transportation Terminal ____Recreational
Note: at least 2 City of Somerville Federally-funded programs currently rent this facility's ofﬁce
space from the owner, Don Warner. Owner was granted a Variance to remove the platform
lift and make the Back Door the Accessible Entrance, on August 9, 2010. As of this writing,
November 12, 2010, there is still no accessible route, no Accessible Entrance, no Accessible
entrance signage, and the platform lift is sometimes being used as a trash receptacle:
3. Does it appear that the building was recently constructed or renovated?
Most recent ongoing renovations began in 2008 for the Union Square Main Streets Program
(USMS). A new HUD (CBDG)-funded Design Annex space was created by and for USMS.
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The owner donated at least $20,000 for these alterations, which included a mezzanine not
reachable by vertical access.
In October 2009, the parking lot was restriped. A separate parking lot complaint is submitted.
In 2010, minor alterations are being made, including painting, permanent interior signage, ﬁre
safety and communications installations.
Prior to 2008: the owner sought AAB variances to provide a Platform Lift instead of Main
Entrance Access (1988) and to repair the front without provided accessible route to the
downstairs front entrance (1998). In 1988, he estimated he would spend $750,000 to change
the facility from a Police Station to a multi-use facility, including Ofﬁces and a Restaurant.
The assessed value of this building at that time was $120,000.
The owner continues to inform his tenants, in writing, that he completed all renovations
compliant with the MAAB regulations in effect during his initial renovations.
This Building complaint will reference Sections from 521 CMR 1987 regulations.
4. What date were you most recently at the building? 11/3/10
5. How many ﬂoors? 4 ﬂoors, including an excavated basement with a popular Restaurant/Bar.
6. Please check the appropriate section(s) of the Board's regulations that you believe is
being violated, then describe each section, as speciﬁcally as possible, in the space below.
The following pages detail 19 complaints, based on 521 CMR, 1987 regulations.
The owner spent over 100% of the assessed value of the building to substantially
renovate it, per his AAB Variance Request of 1988.
UPCOMING PUBLIC EVENT AT THIS FACILITY INCLUDES: The Union
Square Winter Craft Market , (facilitated by the City of Somerville's CDBG-
funded Union Square Main Streets program), will take place in this building
on Saturday, December 4 from 11 am to 4 pm, at the downstairs Precinct.
The following information is optional, and your complaint will be processed regardless of
whether or not the information is provided. However, you should be aware that the less
information that is provided, the longer it will take this ofﬁce to process your complaint.
a. Name and address of the building owner or manager:__Don Warner, HDR Architecture,
Inc. | 695 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02111-2623 ofﬁce: 617.357.7775 | cell:
617.821.2707 | fax: 617.357.7759
b. The Board only considers complaints with respect to buildings which are:
1.) constructed by the state, city or town, and construction, reconstruction, alteration or
remodeling occurred after December of 1968; or
2.) privately ﬁnanced buildings that are open to or used by the public and construction,
reconstruction, alteration or remodeling occurred after June 10, 1975.
The following information may be obtained by contacting the Local Building Department
DATE BUILDING PERMIT(S) WAS ISSUED: __________________________________
ESTIMATE COST(S) OF CONSTRUCTION: ~$750,000 in 1988; $100,000 in 1998;
$25,000+ since 2008.
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c. The assessed value of the building will determine the extent that a building must comply.
You may obtain the assessed value of the building by contacting the Local Assessor's
ASSESSED VALUE OF THE BUILDING AT TIME PERMIT WAS ISSUED: This complaint
is about outstanding issues from 1987 regulations, when assessed value during initial
substantial renovations was $120,000 per 1988 MAAB notes.
7. Name and address of person/organization ﬁling this complaint (if organization is ﬁling, please
provide the Board with the name of a contact person) (required):_
Community Access Project of Somerville
8. Individual Signature (required): scanned signature provided
The following 7 pages show 16 elements believed to be in violation of 521 CMR, 1987
regulations. Photos are included.
This is not a comprehensive survey, since we did not measure hallways and certain amenities in
hallways such as signage (only temporary interior signage was seen) or height of Exit signage and
ﬁre devices, did not survey all bathroom elements, did not survey the newly remodeled USMS and
Design Annex Ofﬁce spaces, and did not survey the elevator.
Below from left to right: Front Main Entrance, beginning of common alleyway route to back, Back
door w/HP spot
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1. 5.3 Accessible route/path of travel. A continuous route of travel, connecting all elements,
routes and spaces within or between buildings is still NOT PROVIDED.
The back door entrance is over 300 feet away from the front Main Entrance, and within the parking
lot area. Excessive cross slopes measured (after city sidewalk passage from Main Entrance to
curbcut to Sanborn Court): Common alleyway route adjacent to Sanborn Court: 3.4% at beginning,
4.7% mid-way, and 6.5% before turning into parking lot. In facility parking lot: 4.2%. midway.
(Slopes are OK within 5 feet of back door):
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2. 26.4 The accessible entrance(s) shall be on a level which permits access to building elevators
a. the elevator does not provide Public access to the downstairs level, which is the Precinct. (In 1988, it
was The Elephant Walk):
b. The elevator does not provide any access to the new ﬁrst ﬂoor Design Access mezzanine
space, which opened to the public in 2009. Two pictures of the mezzanine below, from:
3. 26.7 Identiﬁcation: Any entrance of a facility not accessible by persons in wheelchairs shall
have a sign clearly indicating the location of the accessible entrance.
There is no signage clearly indicating any accessible entrance in the front or the back:
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4. 27.7 Exterior thresholds shall not exceed one-half inch in height, bevelled on both sides. Interior
thresholds shall be ﬂush with the ﬂoor. Changes in ﬂoor materials may require an edge strip or
threshold ﬂush with the higher material and beveled at a ratio of one-in-four.
Back door threshold is over 2 inches:
5. 27.11 Doors in the means of egress shall be operable with one hand and with a single effort. Doors
in the paths of ingress shall be able to be unlocked and opened with one hand.
The door is kept locked to the public:
6. 28.3 Handrails shall be set on both sides of such stairs at a height of 34 inches above the
intersection of tread and riser.
Handrails are only on one side of Emergency egress stairs. 2 photos below show that Stair hall:
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7. 28.4 The hand-grip portion of handrails shall be not less than one and one-quarter and not more
than 2 inches in outside diameter, shall be round in cross section.
Foyer handrails are 2 inches wide and rectangular in cross section:
8. 28.5 Clearance between a wall and its wall rail shall be one and one-half inches.
See above picture, left. Foyer handrails are 2 inches away from wall.
9. 29.1 The ﬂoor on any single story shall be of a common level throughout, except where a ramp
(as described in Section 25) connects different levels.
The Conference Room, used for State-monitored, (DHCD/ HHS-funded) Board meetings as well as the
Somerville Executive Directors Meetings, has a slope that's 8.8%, leading from hallway into Conference
10. 30.5 Toilet stalls: Each toilet room shall have at least one stall which:
30.5.1 is 60 inches wide and 72 inches deep;
First ﬂoor bathroom measures 56 inches wide.
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11. 30.5.2 has a door or opening that is 36 inches wide, a self-closing hinge device and a pull
device to assist in closing the door... and has a lock located approximately 36 inches above the
According to a survey done by IHCD, The door opens to less than 32 inches wide, and does not have a
self-closing spring, nor a pull device. The 3 pictures below are copied from the IHCD survey done for
an organizational tenant, (page 20, 66-70 Union Square report 6-25-1-2010):
12. 30.5.3 water closet is 18 inches from the centerline of the ﬁxture to the nearest side wall,maintains
at least 42 inches clear space, measured from centerline of toilet to the farthest wall or other ﬁxture...
approximately 16 inches to nearest side wall approximately 40 inches measured to far wall.
13. 35.1 Buildings having 2 levels shall provide a ramp or elevator to each level; buildings having
more than 2 levels shall provide elevator access to each level.
This is a 4 level building. No elevator access is provided to the Public to the basement (Precinct) level.
There are clear safety reasons for this; however, it means that all programs, services and events held
within the Precinct are not accessible. Can a policy solution be implemented; for example, persons
requiring access to the Precinct from the elevator will have access to a 2-way communications system at
the back door, and will be escorted by staff down to the Precinct?
14. 35.9 Door jamb markings indicating ﬂoor designations shall be provided at each hoistway
entrance on both sides of jamb visible from within the car and lobby at a height of 60 inches
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above the ﬂoor. Numbers shall be on a contrasting color background a minimum of 2 1/2 inches
There are no door jamb markings on either side of hoistway entrance- 1st and 2nd ﬂoors checked only:
15. 40.1 The ISA shall be displayed in the following locations:
40.1.1 Any entrance of a facility not accessible by persons in wheelchairs shall have a sign
clearly indicating the location of the accessible entrance.
See photos for Number 3, above: no entrance signage in front, NO entrance signage in back.
16. 40.1.3 where signs, maps, building locations, the ISA shall indicate where accessible toilets,
entrances, and elevators are located. the viewers position shall be clearly indicated on these
maps. Below is back door Notice with map and location instructions, no indication of HP
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