Developers submit $1.4m bid for former church

March 1, 2013
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HYDE SQ.—A pair of local developers yesterday submitted a $1.4 million bid for the former Blessed Sacrament Church building on Centre Street in Hyde Square, proposing a $3.4 million renovation into “JP Exchange,” an array of community-based businesses.

The proposal includes a “small business incubator and open market,” event space and an indoor play space for children.

Local contractor Jason Hutchinson and developer Andre White wrote in an email that they would need six to 12 months to put together the financing for the purchase. In the meantime, they said, they are seeking a partnership with the preservation group Historic Boston Incorporated (HBI) to purchase and hold the church building for them.

“We have yet to have a substantive conversation with the developer, so this is not a project that HBI has taken a close look at yet,” HBI Executive Director Kathy Kottaridis, a Jamaica Plain resident, told the Gazette.

The massive, historic church is presently co-owned by New Atlantic Development and the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC). They have controversial plans to convert the church into high-end condos. But they recently held a series of meetings to solicit alternative use ideas and review their feasibility. JPNDC did not immediately respond to questions about the bid.

Hutchinson and White say that the redevelopment costs up to $9 million cited by a consultant hired by New Atlantic and JPNDC were inflated and could be greatly reduced. Much of the funding would rely on the New Markets Tax Credit program. Many of the potential grant and funding sources they cite in their bid are for active churches or religious institutions. It is unclear whether their “JP Exchange” idea would have a religious component or structure.

Updated version: This article has been updated with comment from Historic Boston Incorporated.

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