While members of the Gove Street Citizens Association (GSCA) did not take an official vote Monday night on the proposal to develop the former Mount Carmel Church property into 112 units of housing, one member asked for a show of hands.
“By a show of hands, how many people are ‘not’ happy with the height of the development?” asked the GSCA member.
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 has some concerned.
Most in the audience raised their hands in opposition of the six-story building that will replace the convent.
While it seemed most were happy with the parking ratio and design of the row-houses the height of that one 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.
“It’s too tall,” said another member. “You will be choking us. We need air, we need oxygen, we need open space. It’s just too big. I feel like all this development going on is sucking the air out of 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. Thirteen of the 84 parking spaces will be located off Lubec Street in a new landscaped lot as part of the project.
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).
In the PNF, White and Egan wrote that the former Mount Carmel Church building “will be the cornerstone of this development”.
“This will be a respectfully reused converted into spacious loft-style living units that capture the soaring interior spaces and volume of the building,” they wrote. “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
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.
At Monday night’s meeting residents asked, if the project is approved, how long it would take to construct.
White said ideally he would like to do the entire project in one phase to cause as little disruption to the surrounding neighborhood and the Donald McKay School.
“Once construction begins it would take 14 to 18 months,” said White. “Ideally we would like to schedule work in the summer months when children are not in school at the McKay. Our construction management plan will be aimed at safety and keeping traffic flowing smoothly around the site. If we are unable to the project in one phase our plan is to start with the church and use the vacant lot on Frankfort Street as a staging area and then move to the Frankfort Street parcel once the church and convent is completed.”
White and Egan purchased the property in 2015 for $3 million.