After two informational meetings with members of the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) to get feedback and ideas from residents on what they’d like to see at the Mount Carmel Church Property, the developer has officially filed a Letter of Intent with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).
The filing will kick off a lengthy community process that will include a series of community meetings, BPDA sponsored meetings and an Article 80 Large Project review.
Frankfort Gove LLC purchased the property in 2015 for $3 million, laid out preliminary plans for the 50,000 sq. ft. site that includes the former Mount Carmel Church, rectory, convent, hall and the large parcel of land used as a parking lot along Frankfort Street.
“The current site was formerly used as the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and the associated rectory, convent, and associated parking,” said Frankfort Gove LLC Attorney Jeff Drago. “As part of the community benefits related to this Project, the main church building, which is located at 120 Gove Street, will be salvaged and renovated into residential units.”
In the Letter of Intent Drago noted that The rectory building located at 128-134 Gove Street, and the convent building located across the street are both compromised structurally and are not suitable for human habitation, according to current Boston building codes, and will be demolished.
According to Drago the proposed project will be constructed as two distinct buildings along Gove Street and Frankfort Street. Overall, the project will create 115 housing units.
The main church building located on the corner of Frankfort and Gove Street will be restored and renovated into 13 residential units. The second portion of the project along Gove Street, which is the site of the former church rectory, will be connected to the existing church building along Gove Street and will contain 15 units.
The proposed second building will be located across Gove Street and will contain 87 units.
“This building will be constructed as a building with two distinct designs,” said Drago. “The first portion of the project will be a six-story building with a pullback along the sixth floor. As the building moves down Frankfort Street the building will step down to four stories, with a fourth-floor pullback matching the massing and height of the surrounding buildings. This section of the building will employ a townhouse style design to match context of the existing structures across the street as you move down Frankfort Street.”
Drago said his client is proposing a wide variety of unit sizes and styles, which will accommodate Eastie’s diverse and growing population.
“The units will be comprised of seven studio units, 52 one-bedroom or one-bedroom plus den units, 52 two-bedroom units, and four three bedroom units,” said Drago. “The units will be designed with a variety of different styles including flats, lofts, and duplexes.”
The developer is proposing a number of private decks, as well as common decks, which will provide residents with usable outdoor space.
“The developer understand that parking is always a concern to the neighborhood residents and are proposing an underground level interior parking facility at the Frankfort Street site and additional ground level parking at the Gove Street site for future residents,” said Drago.
Reaction to the project has been mixed.
At past meetings, GSCA members took a hardline stance on the height of some of the proposed buildings and felt nothing should be higher than the current homes along Gove and Frankfort Streets.
Many residents at past meetings did not like the modern design of some of the buildings that included a mix of glass and other materials and asked the developer to consider replicating the architectural styles of the turn of the 20th Century brick buildings along Frankfort Street.
While others had a problem with density of the overall project. Initially the developer wanted 122 units but has come down to the 115 units in the Letter of Intent filed with the BPDA.
Others hoped the developer, in good faith, would return the Mount Carmel Church to a community use as part of the overall development.
“Is it really a save?,” asked Matt Barison. “Why can’t they convert the church into something for the community? Do they not have enough new units proposed already?”
Anthony Chianca bemoaned, “Let’s continue to build more apartments in congested areas where parking is limited to begin with.”
However, others said the Church and surrounding properties were just rotting away and looked forward to seeing something finally developed there.