Norbert School plan linked to church’s deed restriction

August 2, 2013
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HYDE SQ.—The plan to turn the Norbert School into 21 apartments has been approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) board on the condition that a deed restriction on the Blessed Sacrament Church building is lifted. The lifting of the deed restriction is key to the sale of the church.

Meanwhile, BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler revealed that Mayor Thomas Menino, the BRA and the Department of Neighborhood Development helped move the sale of the church building forward.

Dave Traggorth, project manager for the Norbert School proposal, did not respond to a request for comment.

Norbert School Associates had originally planned to turn the school building into 21 market-rate apartments. But after the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) ruled the proposal would need variances, Norbert School Associated changed the plan to include two affordable-housing units. ISD revised its ruling, saying no variance were need, Traggorth previously told the Gazette.

ISD did not respond to a request for comment.

Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) announced last month that it had entered into a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy the church building from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and New Atlantic Development. The Norbert School plan is contingent on the lifting of a deed restriction placed on the church by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston that says the church can only be redeveloped as housing with possible commercial space in front.

“We envision the church as the cultural centerpiece of our Latin Quarter,” said HSTF Executive Director Claudio Martinez, according to a press release. “We want to make it a place where all residents from our neighborhood, Jamaica Plain and Boston can gather, perform, create community and celebrate individual, family and community-wide events.”

JPNDC and New Atlantic Development bought the Blessed Sacrament Church campus at 365 Centre St. in 2005 and planned to turn the church into condos.

“We’re proud to have turned most of the campus into homes for 81 households who would have otherwise been priced out of Jamaica Plain,” said JPNDC Executive Director Richard Thal, according to a press release. “The Hyde Square Task Force’s work to turn the church into a cultural center will be a great culmination to the whole project.”

Schuler said once the sale has been completed, that HSTF will need to submit a Notice of Project change for its anticipated community use of the Blessed Sacrament Church building. The review of the purchase-and-sale agreement is expected to take 120 days, a standard duration.

“We are so pleased that Mayor Menino and the City were able to step in and help move this project forward,” said Schuler. “We appreciate the hard work of our Jamaica Plain neighbors, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, New Atlantic Development, and the Hyde Square Task Force. Working together, we will create a campus that supports a vibrant Jamaica Plain.”

[This article has been updated to reflect that the Norbert School plan is contingent upon a deed restriction being lifted.]