View Full Version : Am I wrong?

10-09-2007, 06:58 AM
It?s no steal, but steel it is
$2.1M home made of Big Dig castoffs
By Herald staff | Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Business & Markets

With a $2.1 million sale price, the ?Big Dig? House is a lot more expensive than neighboring residences in Lexington.

But what buyers don?t understand is that you can?t compare the house made of recycled material from the infamous Big Dig highway project with a Colonial selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars less, says real estate agent Carole deJong.

?There has been some objection to the price,? said deJong, of William Raveis Exceptional Properties. ?The fact is that isn?t a four-bedroom Colonial. This is a one-of-a-kind house.?

That may be an understatement. Steel beams and concrete slabs that held up the temporary bridges during the Big Dig project can be seen throughout the six levels of the house. And it weighs a million pounds, three times the weight of an average home.

It supports a roof garden with three feet of soil, boulders and two Foo Dog statues made of marble that once guarded the Chinatown Gates in Boston.

There are floor-to-ceiling windows

The house is virtually fireproof and was built to be strong enough to withstand a major earthquake, deJong said. Its beams could support a 20-story building.

The house?s owner, Paul Pedini, said he thought it would be a shame that part of history - the slabs and steel used in the giant bridge and tunnel construction project, would be destroyed. So he decided to use them instead for his house.

Of course, Pedini, an engineer and contractor, had access. He was a vice-president of Modern Continental, one of the contractors involved in the Big Dig. Fellow workers thought he was crazy.

?They thought the concrete and steel were ugly,? he said.

While Pedini paid more than $400,000 for the land, he didn?t have to pay for materials, which he said would have been destroyed had they not become part of his home.

Pedini said he loves living in the house with its 26-foot ceiling, but says selling it will give him some money.

Money, in fact, to build two more ?Big Dig? houses, he says. It turns out Pedini has more unused steel beams and concrete slabs that he can?t wait to use.
Link (http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1036859)

Correct me if I am wrong on this, but can't steel be recycled? Usually for some sort of cash incentive?
The article doesn't get into the details but lets make a couple of assumption.
a. There is a lot of steel in that house.
b. That steel was most likely purchased with Big Dig (i.e. taxpayer) dollars, rather than Modern Continental dollars. Unless of course MC was kind enough to donate the materials to the state.
c. The price for reclaimed steel is rather high due to the global shortage of steel world-wide.
d. As a vice-president of Modern Continental this guy probably had the capabilty to 'over-engineer' the ramps or 'accidentally' order too much steel.

I don't know maybe my tinfoil hat is on too tight or something but it seems to me this guy took a liquid asset of the state and profited from it.
The concrete I can understand. As far I know that can't be recycled.
But it seems like there is a lot potential money tied up in that steel.
Let me know if I'm wrong about any of this.

10-09-2007, 10:58 AM
Yea, but what percentage of the total amount of money on materials (steels and concrete) that were spent for the big dig ended up in this guy's house? I imagine it was ultimately such a small portion that it borders on negligible. Unless he's got half a billion dollars or more of recyclable steel laying around no sensible pencil pusher is going to care all that much. From an accounting point of view, if this was material that was installed early in the big dig project, the materials were probably already depreciated away completely.

I doubt he would need to over-engineer anything. There was a decade+ worth of temporary tunnels and bridges and various other constructs holding up various other constructs. I'm almost certain that there was plenty for him to take.

I think your hat might be just a tad too tight.

Though, everything I've said is merely speculation from my point of view.

10-10-2007, 07:09 AM
Yeah, I guess I overreacted a wee bit.

I spoke with someone who told that there was probably no more than $400 worth of steel and the contractor in charge of demo usually keeps the any $$ from recycling as part of payment for the demo. :oops:

10-11-2007, 08:01 AM
Heh, looks like I wasn't only one who over-reacted:

Dogfight over taken relics
Leaders demands statues? return
By Michele McPhee | Thursday, October 11, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Local Coverage

Two historic ?foo dog? statues - lifted from Chinatown under the mayor?s nose - were used by a Big Dig contractor to decorate his $2.1 million suburban home, and outraged neighborhood activists are demanding their return.

The marble foo dogs, sometimes called lions - which once stood guard under the Beach Street arch leading visitors to Chinatown - were taken by Paul Pedini, a former vice president of Big Dig contractor Modern Continental, who used the statues to decorate the rooftop garden of his Lexington manse.

Yesterday, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who first learned of the missing foo dogs from the Herald, joined Chinatown activists in demanding the return of the statues, which were gifts from the Taiwanese government.

?We want the lions back now,? Menino said. ?They belong to the city, and the contractor had no authority to take them.?

Menino said he plans to ask the Turnpike Authority, which oversaw the Big Dig, why the contractor was authorized to take the statues without any consultation with the city. ?Where was the oversight from the state?? Menino asked.

Pedini told the Herald the foo dogs were the property of Modern Continental and were considered surplus from the job site.

?I took possession of (them) with the understanding that they were otherwise going to be discarded,? Pedini said. ?My intention was to preserve them. No one from the city or the Chinese community expressed any opposition to my taking them, nor have they ever asked me to return them.?

Modern Continental was paid $4.5 million to overhaul Chinatown Park, a contract that included funds to pay for replacement foo dog statues, said Turnpike Authority spokesman Mac Daniel.

Modern Continental provided the Herald a document from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association that allowed the contractor to ?permanently remove the existing 4 Foo Dogs under the condition that Modern will replace them with 4 new matching Foo Dogs of white marble.?

Two new replacement foo dogs now greet visitors to Chinatown, and the company said two others are in storage. The two other old foo dogs were given to the Kowloon Restaurant on Route 1 in Saugus, company officials said.

Yesterday, an activist from the Chinese Progressive Agency demanded the return of the old statues. ?They belong to us, to Chinatown,? said the activist, Amy Lung. ?Not to anyone in Lexington.?

City Councilor Sam Yoon also wanted answers. ?How did a public asset end up on the property of a private contractor?? he said. He also said the foo dogs were the ?legacy? of a longtime community activist, Frank Chin, adding: ?They need to be returned.?

City Councilor Michael Flaherty said the old foo dogs are ?invaluable? and should have been subject to a public auction, not become the property of the contractor.

W.M. Tsao, 87, a retired pathologist, said that he doesn?t care how the foo dogs were removed, he just wants them back. ?Bring back the lions,? he said as he stared at the two new ones and the empty pedestals behind them. ?Just bring them back.?

Link (http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1037337)

So these statues were replaced with (presumably) nicer statues. It wasn't really 'theft' If I take 1 dollar from you and leave a five dollar bill in its place I haven't really stolen anything. Unless they can prove the old statues are actually more valuable.
On the other hand these things generally fetch a good price at antique stores (especially something with this pedigree - "Guarded Boston's famous Chinatown Gate for X years!") so it is pretty disingenuous to claim the were going to be destroyed.

10-11-2007, 09:20 AM
Are you sure they were replaced? There is at least one pedestal with no foo dog on it sitting by that arch at the moment.

10-11-2007, 09:24 AM
^^ According to the Herald article two of the new Foo Dogs are still in storage.

10-11-2007, 02:14 PM
you're a foo dog.