Mt. Carmel and NOAH Projects Approved by BPDA

At last week’s Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board hearing ,  two large East Boston projects in Jeffires Point’s Gove Street area, as well as the backside of Eagle Hill were approved.

The BPDA board said the residential projects moving forward make progress towards Mayor Martin Walsh’s goal of increasing affordable housing to support a strong middle-class. Mayor Walsh’s 2019 legislative agenda aims to support the creation of new affordable housing, increase access to homeownership opportunities, and prevent displacement of residents.

The first project approved was the slightly contentious project to transform the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and surrounding properties, which include the church, rectory, convent and a large vacant parcel, into housing.

At the BPDA hearing the board approved developers Timothy White and Richard Egan to transform the four Mount Carmel Church parcels  on Gove and Frankfort streets in 112 residential units that include 12 income-restricted units.

Members of the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) voted 17 to 7 against the proposal to develop the former Mount Carmel Church property.

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. 

However, GSCA members like Jack Scalcione applauded the developer’s work with the community.

Scalcione, who lives on Frankfort Street, said the developer has worked closely with the abutters for several months.

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 recorty and decided to raze that building to house 13 of the 84 parking spaces, as well as to 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 respectful reuse being converted into spacious loft-style living units that capture the soaring interior spaces and volume of the building,” 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.

The BPDA also approved the East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) and East Boston Community Development Corporation’s (CDC) plans to develope artist live, and work space on Condor Street.

NOAH and CDC’s Aileron, located on approximately 26,250 square feet of vacant land, on 131-151 Condor Street in Eagle Hill will construct an approximately 49,750 square foot mixed-use, mixed-income development that includes two buildings with a total of 40 residential units, artist studios, a work bar/gallery, community studio space, and a workshop

Last week the Boston City Council approved $735,200 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding to the proposed Aileron development to build seven housing units, including four affordable units.

Overall. NOAH, its architect Eastie based Joy St Design, and the CDC have joined forces to create a 41-unit project that includes a mixed-use, mixed-income, ownership/rental housing and gallery spaces for theb Eastie artist community and community at­ large.

NOAH’s project, dubbed ‘Aileron’ will include eight ownership units, half workforce and half market, in one building with 33-units occupying a larger building next door. Of the 33 units in the larger building 17 will be set aside for artist work/living space.

NOAH is also proposing two large common spaces, a Gallery and Workbar, that will be available for the other residents in the building. The vacant land was previously owned by the Boston Planning & Development Agency, and was transferred to the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) in 2017 for disposition in support of affordable housing.

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