Church owners give financial details

October 26, 2012
By

HYDE SQ.—Owners of the Blessed Sacrament complex released financial numbers on the site amid controversy about their plan to have expensive housing built at two buildings on the campus. They reiterated they will go forward with their plan, but are open to other options that are financially feasible.

The numbers were released by the owners, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), a nonprofit affordable housing developer, and New Atlantic Development, during a community meeting with about 25 attendees at the Nate Smith House on Oct. 17.

Two residents of Creighton Commons affordable housing questioned what impact expensive housing would have on their condominium fees. The buildings on the church campus pay into a master condominium association, which among other services, keeps the campus clean and removes snow during the winter.

Owners of the campus have been under fire for proposing to turn the former Catholic church into 37 luxury condos and the Norbert School building into 21 market-rate apartments. Norbert School Associates is the developer for the Norbert building and it recently filed the project with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).

The owners released financials that showed to date they have spent $2.1 million on the two buildings and are incurring an additional $20,000 in costs each month, including real estate taxes, maintenance and condo fees. The owners said because of those financial pressures, their options are limited and they will proceed with their plan unless a viable alternative is proposed.

“We are not developing condos,” said Leslie Bos, president of the JPNDC board. “We are selling it to someone who will build them so we can move our resources.”

Helen Matthews, a JP resident, noted that the JPNDC has been on “the hot seat” over the proposal and said it’s not in JPNDC’s “interest or mission to develop luxury condos at the church.”

Kyle Robidoux, associate director of community organizing at JPNDC, said alternative uses for the church and the Norbert building were discussed within JPNDC during a “very challenging and emotional process.” But JPNDC did not do a good job of communicating that process with the public.

Bos added JPNDC could not find a path to any alternative and that it’s “really painful and sad we couldn’t find one.”

Luis Ottonelli and Curtis Glavin, two residents of Creighton Commons, questioned what impact the luxury condos at the church would have on condo fees. Glavin said if condo fees rise too much, affordable housing on the campus would no longer be affordable.

Peter Roth of New Atlantic Development noted that the owners of the Norbert and the church have already paid $65,000 in condo fees for vacant buildings and that each party to the master condo association “is interested in keeping costs down.”

Robidoux said that the Oct. 17 meeting is the first of several meetings. The next will be a BRA meeting on the Norbert building and then JPNDC will hold a meeting solely on the church proposal.