Savio Prep Developers Detail Their Vision for the Property

By John Lynds

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The developers, who have proposed to buy and redevelop the former Savio High School on Byron Street in East Boston held a meeting Monday night at the Orient Heights Neighborhood council to brief residents on the proposed plans.

The Coliseum Investment Group, who was responsible for the condo development at 145-147 Everett Street, wants to turn the structure into 21 market-rate condominiums consisting of one and two bedroom units as well as studios.

Coliseum Investment Group has signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Salesians and 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.

At Monday’s meeting, Limas said he was confident that, even in this soft real estate market, the final product of one and two-bedroom condos and studio space will sell well.

With many young professionals moving into the neighborhood looking for real estate deals or cheap rent there is a potential market for market-rate condos along a main street close to public transportation and other amenities the neighborhood has to offer.

The only major issue discussed at Monday’s meeting concerned parking.

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.

The developer would then create a fence buffer to separate the condos’ lot from the Boys and Girls Club property and residents of the condos would have their own access gate in the lot.

Some at the meeting felt that Byron Street, a fairly busy street for motorists cutting through Constitution Beach from the Bayswater Street area to access Bennington Street, might get harder to navigate with oncoming traffic turning to access condo parking.

Limas said his group had explored all data on traffic and found the current configuration to be the best but would also entertain other options.

Mayor Thomas Menino’s liaison Ernani 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.

Coliseum Investment Group has not yet filed with the Boston Redevelopment Authority but will have one more community meetings to explain the sale and development.

The next meeting, which a date has not yet been announced, will be co-sponsored by the BRA and Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

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