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Buildings still abandoned following Allston fire

In Allston, a few blocks east of Union Square, three properties sit empty with graffiti plastered over their boarded-up storefronts.

Wood planks cover the entrance to Amelia’s Taqueria and Fresh Noodles in Allston. The restaurants along 180-184 Brighton Ave have not reopened after a Sept. 2022 fire that damaged the buildings. SYDNEY ROTH/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

Between 180 and 184 Brighton Ave. are the remains of Amelia’s Taqueria, Thai Place and IFresh Noodle, restaurants shut down by a 3-alarm fire beginning with an electrical short in IFresh Noodle that tore through the block in Sept. 2022.

Amir Shiranian, president of Amelia’s Taqueria, said he was told the construction would take at least six months in an interview following the fire.

Over a year and a half later, these empty buildings are still an eyesore for Allston residents and a liability for their owners, who remain resolute in their desire to reopen despite struggling with contractors and landlords during the reconstruction process. 

Shiranian said reconstruction has been delayed so far due to the work of MDTEC Construction, a contractor hired by the landlord who owns the property on 180 Brighton Ave. where Amelia’s Taqueria location was based.

“They hired a constructor who is not up to it and … did not do a good job,” said Shiranian. “The city of Boston has to get involved and they have to report the contractor’s license and permit.”

A record of contractor permits from the Department of Inspectional Services (ISD) shows that reconstruction work was done on a Bank of America ATM and a MetroPCS store also damaged in the Sept. 2022 fire, and a contractor was permitted to clear the fire damage from Amelia’s Taqueria and IFresh Noodle.

Then in October 2023, a permit was granted to Tanatep Liawpisitkul, owner of MDTEC Construction, to do extensive work between 180-184 Brighton Ave. including responsibility for installing new kitchens and doing plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work.

According to Lisa Timberlake, Director of Publicity for Inspectional Services, the ISD found an “unlicensed individual” doing work on the buildings. When an inspector was dispatched to the properties to verify these claims earlier this year, the lone individual working on site fled from the inspector when questioned.

“When the inspector arrived,” said Timberlake. “There was one person working there, and when [the inspector] started asking questions … They grabbed their tools and ran.” 

Stephen McCarthy, an electrical supervisor in the ISD, said there is no concrete evidence the workers were unlicensed in an email.

The ISD found electrical code violations and issued a Stop Work Order on Feb. 22. Since then a new contractor has been permitted to do electrical work and work has resumed. 

Shiranian said he still intends to reopen the Amelia’s Taqueria location at 180 Brighton Ave. 

Last November, Thai Place made an announcement on its Facebook page saying it hopes to be back by next year, but said in a comment there is no specific reopening date. It is unknown if IFresh Noodle plans to reopen at this time. 

Shiranian said he has continued to pay rent for the property, which has gone up $300 since the fire. Shiranian said he is resolute in reopening Amelia’s Taqueria at 180 Brighton Ave., the chain’s first location, because of what it means to him and the community.

“My nature [is to] never give up … that’s our flagship [location] and we are [a] staple of the neighborhood, we’ve been there for ten years,” said Shiranian, “There are lots of people in the neighborhood that call us and email us day and night, [asking] when are we going to open up. So not everything is about money.”  

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