Developer Plans to Turn Savio High School into Condos

By John Lynds

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There’s a plan in the works to turn the former Savio High School into 24 market-rate condominiums, a development that could be another positive impact for East Boston’s Star of the Sea neighborhood.

The Coliseum Investment Group, who was responsible for the condo development at 145-147 Everett Street, has signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Salesians and the 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale will go to the Salesians Boys and Girls Club that is located across the street at the former Savio Hall.

Coliseum Investment Group principal founder, Nestor Limas, has a brother Oswaldo whose daughter graduated from Savio in 2006, is reported to have some experience renovating old school buildings into condos.

In Malden, Coliseum Investment Group renovated the former Daniel Street School into 104 high end condos.

“From the City’s perspective, this is a great opportunity for the Salesians and for the neighborhood,” said Mayor Thomas Menino’s liaison to East Boston Ernani.DeAraujo. “The proceeds of the building sale will go to the Boys & Girls Club and the old school building, which was risking condemnation, will be completed gutted and renovated for market-rate, owner-occupied units.”

The developer has requested to do one parking spot per unit and the City will allow that request (the city usually requires 0.75 spots per unit, but want to maximize parking). Father John Nazzaro, director of the Boys and Girls Club said the Salesians will relinquish spots in the large, mostly underutilized parking lot across from Savio to accommodate the off-street parking request.

DeAraujo said the Mayor is in strong support of this project, which, along with the sale of St. Mary’s to the Excel Academy, is another important investment in the Star of the Sea area that will strengthen the neighborhood.

Representative Carlo Basile has been a driving force behind this with the help and support of City Councilor Sal LaMattina.

Coliseum Investment Group has not yet filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority but we will have two community meetings to explain the sale and development. One meeting is scheduled for early January at the Boys and Girls Club and another on January 24 at the Orient Heights Neighborhood Association, which will be co-sponsored by the BRA and Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

The long and complicated saga of Savio Prep High School quietly came to an end back in 2008 after The Save our Savio (SOS) Committee, comprised of parents, teachers and alumni, was able to raise more than $6,000 of the preliminary $7,000 goal to try and put a down-payment to purchase the school from the Salesians and allow Savio to open for the 2007-2008 school year.

SOS was directed by the Salesians to attain three separate independent appraisals of the property. The appraisals came in at $1 million, $1.2 million and $1.8 million. SOS offered the Salesians $1.8 million for the building but the religious order, which founded the school in 1958, decided to close the school at the end of June 2008 and spend one year entertaining other offers for the property.

The Salesians said at the end of the year if SOS’s offer was still the highest, the Salesians would sell the building to the committee.

However, by that time all students and parents would have moved on to other schools. Some believed it would have been near impossible to rebuild the school from scratch after a year hiatus.

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