BRA Gives Thumbs Up to Brooke Charter School

Developers of the Edward Brooke Charter School in East Boston received Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) approval last week to convert the former Savio High School on Byron Street into the Brooke’s new home.

The BRA Board unanimously approved $16.5 million expansion plans at the corner of Byron and Bennington Streets so the Brooke can move from its current location on Paris Street to the new Savio location.

In November it was announced that Diversified Project Management, Inc. (DPM), a Newton, based firm had been hired to provide comprehensive project management services for the Brooke facility in Eastie. The Commonwealth’s Designer Selection Board selected the team and the project is expected to be completed for the 2014-2015 academic year.

DPM’s plans supported by the BRA includes a major renovation to the existing 29,700 sq. ft. existing Savio building, relocating one of two Salesian houses at 619 Bennington Street to the Boys & Girls Club parking lot across the street, demolishing the other Salesian house at 617 Bennington Street and add a 3-story, 13,100 sq. ft. addition to the existing school building.

While approved by the BRA, DPM would still need several variances including variances for parking, building height and use of occupancy.

Following a private developer’s decision to abandon his plans to build condos at the former Savio building last year, Brooke, which opened this year at the former home of the Salesians Boys & Girls Club on Paris Street, stepped in and bought the building.

Currently the Brooke is planning a 475 student, K-8 facility at Savio.

DPM is currently engaged in similar projects for the Codman Square Health & Education Center in Boston and for Westfield State University.

The Savio building has been empty for several years and requires extensive renovation. While the Paris Street facility is just a temporary home for the Brooke, the Savio facility will serve as the school’s permanent future home.

The mission of the Brooke Charter Schools is to provide an academically rigorous public education to students from the city of Boston and Chelsea that will ensure that they are prepared to enter into succeed in college. The school is named after Senator Edward W. Brooke, the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate and the first and only black senator from Massachusetts. After attending Brooke, alumni have gone on to excel in high school and college, attending and succeeding in schools like Milton Academy, Boston Latin Academy, and University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

In 2011, The Coliseum Investment Group, who was responsible for the condo development at 145-147 Everett Street, wanted to turn Savio into 21 market-rate condominiums consisting of one and two bedroom units as well as studios.

Coliseum Investment Group signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Salesians and 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale was to go to the Salesians Boys & Girls Club located across the street at the former Savio Hall.

However, residents were skeptical about the project from the beginning with Coliseum Investment Group unable to guarantee the community they could finance the project.

In the end the deal fell through and Coliseum Investment Group pulled out and Brooke grabbed the Byron Street property.

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