BLC approves church plan

October 6, 2006
By

JOHN RUCH

HYDE SQ.—The Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) unanimously approved the redevelopment concept for the former Blessed Sacrament Church site, with the proviso that design review continues.

Representatives of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and Boston Preservation Alliance also spoke in favor of the general design at the Sept. 26 hearing at Boston City Hall.

Joel Parry of the local Sunnyside Neighborhood Association asked the BLC to consider delaying its vote, saying some residents are still concerned about the project’s density and zoning changes. However, BLC chair Susan Pranger and Executive Director Ellen Lipsey noted, those subjects don’t fall under the BLC’s purview.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and New Atlantic Development are leading the redevelopment. It involves turning the former church at 360 Centre St. into condos; moving the rectory down Creighton Street and turning it into condos; building a new housing/retail building on the Creighton/Centre corner; constructing a new condo building on Creighton; turning the former convent into single-room occupany housing; turning a former school into a yet-to-be-determined use; and preserving the COMPASS School in its building.

Preserving and moving the rectory was included at the BLC’s urging. The BLC also specifically approved demolishing two old garages and an old boiler building on the site.

The BLC’s design review committee had some relatively minor design quibbles over the look of the corner building and the new Creighton condo.

“This isn’t final. It’s a sketch,” said New Atlantic president Peter Roth, acknowledging that design review will be ongoing with the BLC, the BRA and a community advisory committee.

The project is still under BRA review, though a vote by the BRA board could come later this month. The project also requires review by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and will require significant zoning variances and changes.

A separate petition for the BLC to landmark the entire church complex is still pending. Landmark status would put restrictions on demolition and exterior changes.

The petition was collected by Susan Myers, a Hyde Square resident and former chief architect for the City of Boston. She previously told the Gazette her main goals are preserving the church building and seeing affordable housing on the site. The redevelopment plans include a significant amount of affordable housing.