Real estate today: Leaders ask mayor to stop Blessed Sacrament projects

March 29, 2013
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HYDE SQ.—A group of prominent Jamaica Plainers has penned a letter to Mayor Thomas Menino asking him to help “suspend further review or approval of” two projects at the Blessed Sacrament Church campus pending revisions that meet prior “goals or otherwise mitigates impacts.”

Signers of the March 25 letter include Nelson Arroyo, board president of the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF); Alexandra Oliver-Dávila, executive director of Mission Hill’s Sociedad Latina; Claudio Martinez, executive director of HSTF; Tony Barros, member of the Hyde/Jackson Square Business Association (HJSBA) and longtime advisor to Menino; Damaris Pimental, member of HJSBA; Rafael Mejia, Jr., president of HJSBA; Oliver De Leon, member of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council; and Jesús Gerena, executive director of the Family Independence Initiative Boston.

The Mayor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Owners of the campus—the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), a nonprofit affordable housing developer, and New Atlantic Development—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.

JPNDC is currently reviewing two bids for alternate uses of the church building.

Norbert School Associates is the developer for the Norbert building. The building previously housed the COMPASS School, but it left in 2009, leaving the building abandoned.

The Norbert School project, in particular, was the focus of the letter. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approved a 2006 master plan for the campus after a lengthy community process, and the letter states that turning the Norbert School into market-rate apartments goes against its original designated use as a community and education space.

“The proposed change will increase the total number of housing units on the site by 15 percent,” states the letter. “It significantly increases the number of market-rate units on site, and it further segregates housing by income, a concern that was raised consistently throughout the original planning process.”

The letter asks the developer to offer an alternative proposal that meets the project’s original goals.

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