Members of the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) voted 17 to 7 Monday night against the proposal to development the former Mount Carmel Church property into 112 units of housing with a show of hands.
While the developer plans to renovate the church and construct four-story row-houses on the vacant parcel along Frankfort Street, the developer’s plan to construct a six-story building at the corner of Frankfort and Gove streets that will replace the existing convent was the most concerning to residents.
Most members seemed happy with the parking ratio and design of the row-houses, the height of that six-story building that is part of the development seems to be a point of contention among GSCA members, with some saying it will cause added claustrophobia in the already thickly settled Gove Street neighborhood.
“We need air, we need oxygen, we need open space. It’s just too big,” said one resident who made the same comments at the last meeting regarding the project.
However, other GSCA members like Jack Scalcione applauded the developer’s work with the community.
Scalcione, who lives on Frankfort Street, said the developer has worked closley with the abutters for several months.
“When the developer first came they brought in some god-awful designs,” said Scalcione. “We criticized them on the design and the size and they kept working it and working it before they came to our meeting. We worked with them on quite a few things and I know it’s not going to satisfy 100 percent of the people because they are building a large structure on Frankfort Street where there hasn’t been anything for some time. It’s going to be difficult, but somebody is going to build something there someday.”
In the end, Scalcione said the developer was willing to work with the community, address some of the concerns and try and come up with a proposal that works for both the developer and the community.
Developers Timothy White and Richard Egan officially filed an expanded Project Notification Form (PNF) with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) in October for the Mount Carmel Church project.
According to the developer’s PNF filing, White and Egan plan to take the shuttered former Catholic Church, the adjoining rectory, the convent across from the church and the large vacant lot on Frankfort Street that was once owned by the Boston Archdiocese and create approximately 120,430 sq. ft. of residential space and about 22,140 sq. ft. of open space.
In total the project will include 112 units and 84 parking spaces, 71 of which are located in a below-grade garage.
The developer recently eliminated the development of the rectory and decided to raze that building to house thirteen of the 84 parking spaces as well as create a new landscaped greenspace.
The renovated Mount Carmel Church building will include 14 residential units.
The existing rectory and convent buildings will be razed and the vacant Frankfort Street parcel will include the construction of a new building that includes 98 condominium units. The rectory building located at 128-134 Gove Street, and the convent are both compromised structurally and are not suitable for human habitation, according to current Boston building codes.
According to the filing, the proposed project will provide market-rate and affordable units with a variety of unit sizes and styles to accommodate Eastie’s diverse and growing population.
The unit designs will vary and include apartments and lofts. The unit mix for the 112 units will comprise a mix of studio units, one-bedroom or one-bedroom plus den units, and two bedroom units.
Thirteen percent of the units will be designated as affordable in accordance with the BPDA’s Inclusionary Development Policy (IPD).
Attorney for the project Jeff Drago said White and Egan plan to make the former Mount Carmel Church building “the cornerstone of this development”.
“This will be a respectfully reuse converted into spacious loft-style living units that capture the soaring interior spaces and volume of the former church,” he said. “There will be three levels of residential units with the top floor units capturing the currently hidden truss space above the vaulted ceiling. The exterior of the building, including its brick and stone façade, will be restored. It will be sensitively repaired where religious iconography was removed. The front door and side window openings will be lowered to the ground to better connect the building to the street and surrounding landscape.”
The developers will also create a reflective outdoor space along the widened sidewalks at the corner of Frankfort and Gove streets that honors Mount Carmel’s history.
On the vacant lot the developers plan to erect a building that mirrors the brick row-houses along Frankfort Street. The four-story structure will extend along Frankfort Street and articulate as individual row houses with separate, raised entrances and planter boxes. The fourth floor will contain setbacks for private deck space while reducing the massing along Frankfort Street.
This design was in response to many residents at past meetings not liking the modern design of some of the buildings. The original design included a mix of glass and other materials but residents asked the developer to consider replicating the architectural styles of the turn of the 20th Century brick buildings along Frankfort Street.
The developers will also construct the six-story building at the corner of Frankfort and Gove streets that will replace the existing convent. White and Egan purchased the property in 2015 for $3 million.