Home for Little Wanderers supports developer

September 13, 2013
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The Home for Little Wanderers, formerly based out of a large facility at 161 S. Huntington Ave., has come out in support of the proposed redevelopment of that site by the Boston Residential Group (BRG).

“The Home was and remains pleased to have engaged in the sale of this property with BRG because they offered the best use of the property and at a purchase price that allowed us to complete our plans for better serving the children who have resided there with us,” Joan Wallace-Benjamin, president and CEO of The Home for Little Wanderers, wrote in a letter to the Gazette this week. “

The Home moved out of the property last year, expecting the sale to be finalized following City approval. However, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) chair Benjamin Day, on behalf of the JPNC, sued the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals and BRG, alleging that zoning approvals for the controversial apartment project were improperly granted.

That lawsuit is currently under appeal, following a May dismissal for lack of standing, or legal grounds, to sue. The sale of the property is on hold until the lawsuit is settled.

“Our impending sale of 161 S. Huntington Ave. to BRG will accomplish that and allow us to continue our mission to ensure the healthy behavioral, emotional, social and educational development and physical well-being of children and families living in at-risk circumstances,” Wallace-Benjamin wrote.

BRG President Curtis Kemeny previously said in a written statement to the Gazette that the legal delay is financially impacting the nonprofit Home for Little Wanderers, with the property closing on hold unless and until the project moves forward.

Brian Condron, director of external affairs for The Home, told the Gazette that The Home is currently responsible for property taxes on the property, as its status only exempts it from taxes on properties it currently occupies.

The expansion of The Home’s Walpole facility, where the former S. Huntington Avenue residents now reside, is also dependent on the sale’s funds, he said.

Condron said he did not know what the sale price is, as the sale is not yet finalized, but noted that the City assesses the property at $8 million.

“The sooner this is resolved, the better it will be for The Home,” he said.