BLESSED SACRAMENT CHURCH
Update on the Blessed Sacrament Church – February, 2023
On Thursday, February 16th, Mayor Michelle Wu held a press conference in Boston’s Latin Quarter to announce a $67 million investment to create and preserve 802 affordable housing units in Boston. This includes just over $6 million for the Blessed Sacrament Church Redevelopment project, which Pennrose is leading in partnership with Hyde Square Task Force. The church building will be transformed into mixed-use mixed-income housing as well as a performance and community space. To learn more about Mayor Wu’s announcement and all of the affordable housing projects that are receiving support, click here.
The Blessed Sacrament Church project has reached other important milestones over the last couple of months. The development team also received funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) of Boston in December, and submitted an application to the state Dept. of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for tax credit financing and additional funds in January. If this DHCD application is successful, the project will be able to move towards a financial closing and construction; we expect the DHCD decisions to be made mid-2023 with the goal of beginning construction in 2024 if awarded.
The Blessed Sacrament redevelopment received Article 80 Approval from the BPDA in December, and has submitted a City zoning application for review and approval (expected by the Spring of 2023). The Boston Landmarks Commission issued its Concept Design Approval in August; the project team will continue to submit details for to the Design Review board for additional approvals as the project advances.
The Pennrose and HSTF team is also building local partnerships with Jamaica Plain service providers to support homeless set-asides and other deeply affordable units, including additional accessible units and units to serve residents who need specific physical supports. While the proposed development has always been 100% affordable, the project team has eliminated the “workforce” housing tier in favor of deeper affordability (< 60% Area Median Income). We believe this better reflects the community’s goals for the Blessed Sacrament development and will help meet the neighborhood’s urgent affordable housing need. Please stay tuned for more updates on progress with project financing and design, and thanks to all the community members who have written letters of support and joined community meetings to date.
Update on the Blessed Sacrament Church – October, 2022
The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) is currently reviewing a proposal for the development of the former Blessed Sacrament Church by Pennrose, the developer that Hyde Square Task Force’s Board of Directors selected last year to lead the project. The proposed project involves the renovation and adaptive reuse of the building, located at 361 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, into a mixed-use, mixed-income housing development. Pennrose will honor the Blessed Sacrament’s architecture and history while adding to Hyde Square’s affordable housing stock. The BPDA is accepting feedback on the project until October 28th.
In addition, the BPDA is hosting a virtual Public Meeting for the proposed project on October 24th. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the overall project and its potential impacts. The meeting will include a presentation followed by questions and comments from the public. Click here to register for the Public Meeting and offer your comments on the BPDA’s website.
Update on the Blessed Sacrament Church – August, 2022
Please join Pennrose and Hyde Square Task Force on August 15th for an update on the plans for preservation and redevelopment of the Blessed Sacrament Church as affordable housing and community space.
WHERE: Hyde Square Task Force (30 Sunnyside Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130)
WHEN: 6:30 – 8:00 pm, August 15, 2022
The meeting will be in English with Spanish translation, and refreshments will be provided. Please reach out to Rebecca Schofield at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
In addition, we wanted to share that the Boston Landmarks Commission recently released a draft report on the Blessed Sacrament Church building. Click here to read the report and find out how you can offer feedback.
Update on the Blessed Sacrament Church – March, 2022
Following our series of community meetings in the fall and the selection of Pennrose as the developer for the church, we have been working on the immediate next steps for the project. This has included the completion of a memorandum of understanding that at a high level summarizes our working relationship with Pennrose over the months ahead. Pennrose has begun design work for the project and is anticipating submitting a package to the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) by the end of this year. There will be another series of community meetings associated with that submission.
Work on the church will not begin until the financing of the project has been secured, which could take two to three years given the complexity of the project. This means that for the time being, Hyde Square Task Force will continue to own the church and will be responsible for its upkeep. Together with Pennrose, we will address any immediate concerns to ensure the structure remains safe. From time to time, the community will see what looks like “work” happening around the church. This does not mean construction is underway. We are simply taking mitigating steps to keep the building as sound as possible before Pennrose begins redeveloping the church.
Between now and the beginning of any construction, the community can expect to hear from Pennrose and Hyde Square Task Force, as input from residents and other stakeholders remains a high priority. Stay tuned for opportunities to engage directly with Pennrose as plans for the church take shape.
We will continue to keep you informed along the way, even when things are quiet. If at any point you have any questions do not hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com or 617-318-6609.
Update on the Blessed Sacrament Church – October, 2021
We thank everyone who contributed to the community engagement process for the redevelopment of the former Blessed Sacrament church. This process allowed us to hear from community members and gather insightful feedback about the top three proposals we received. Over the past month, we held five community sessions – two virtual and three in-person – and conducted a survey asking about the proposed use, community benefit, and design proposed by each developer.
After a careful review of the comments made during community meetings, the survey results, and the proposals themselves, the HSTF Board has selected Pennrose as the developer to help our community envision the future of the Blessed Sacrament church. As you may recall, our criteria for selection has always been:
1) Benefit to community in the form of performance/event space, ideally for 250 people
2) Financial benefit to HSTF, specifically capital to retire our debt on the property as well as for other long-term capital needs of the organization
3) Accessible outdoor community space
4) Naming consideration
5) Overall feasibility
The HSTF Board’s rationale for selecting Pennrose aligns nicely with these requirements. Data collected during the community engagement process indicates that Pennrose’s proposed use of income-restricted housing resonates extremely well with the community. At a minimum, Pennrose is committed to the following level of affordability:
- <30% AMI: 8 units (15%)
- <50% AMI: 8 units (15%)
- <60% AMI: 16 units (30%)
- <120% AMI: 20 units (40%)
Pennrose has also committed to providing community space for 200+ people and is open to different ownership models for this space. Furthermore, Pennrose is committed to HSTF being the operator of this space for the long-term. Additionally, the purchase price covers HSTF’s current mortgage on the property, and helps to recoup some of the costs incurred in carrying the church over the past seven years. Lastly, Pennrose has committed to robust outdoor community space in front, converting the baptistery to an open-air performance gazebo, and to respecting the existing outdoor green space to the west of the church. While naming consultation on the project has not been discussed, we will add it as a condition of the sale.
We recognize that this is the beginning of a partnership with Pennrose. The HSTF Board believes that Pennrose has the highest likelihood of a great outcome for the community and for HSTF, but we know this is not a guaranteed outcome. The next phase of this process includes negotiations with Pennrose, which will outline sale conditions that honor the criteria outlined above and seek to clarify concerns raised by the community (e.g., level of affordable housing stays minimally at the proposed levels; long-term control of community space, respect for green space, commitment to a full community engagement process and plan).
HSTF remains committed to ensuring that Pennrose holds to the planned use and community benefits it is proposing. We understand that continued community engagement will be invaluable to the long term success of the project. We hope that you will partner with us to ensure that this vision is realized.
Update on the Blessed Sacrament Church – October, 2021
We recently completed our series of community meetings to gather feedback about the future of the former Blessed Sacrament Church. The last two meetings were held on September 30th, with over 30 community members in attendance. We want to thank everyone who has taken the time to give feedback! Throughout the community meetings, we gathered questions raised by participants for each of the developers. Developers were then asked to submit written responses to these questions. The questions and answers from each developer can be found here.Lastly, the community feedback survey closed on October 7th and here are some preliminary survey results.
Update on the former Blessed Sacrament Church – September, 2021
Thank you to the 100+ community members who joined us for a series of community meetings held both virtually and in-person on 9/18/21 and 9/20/21 to offer feedback about the future of the former Blessed Sacrament Church. During these gatherings, community members had the opportunity to learn about proposals from three developers who are interested in redeveloping this beloved neighborhood landmark and complete a survey to offer feedback on the three proposals.
If you were not able to attend any of the three community meetings, there are several other ways that you can learn more and share your feedback.
- Join us for two final community meetings on the evening of Thursday, September 30th (one in Spanish and one in English). These meetings will be held in person at Hyde Square Task Force. To RSVP to attend the meeting in English, click here. To RSVP to attend the meeting in Spanish, click here.
- Watch a Zoom recording of the presentations from the 9/18/21 or 9/20/21 meetings to learn about what each developer is proposing.
- Complete the survey to share your feedback on the three proposals.
You may also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-318-6609 if you would like to offer feedback by phone or email instead. We look forward to hearing from you.
Update on the Blessed Sacrament Church – August, 2021
As you may remember in May 2020, after an exhaustive and in-depth exploration to develop the church, our board of directors voted to pursue the sale of the property in order to focus squarely on supporting enrichment programs for Boston’s youth. The redevelopment efforts, coupled with the ongoing maintenance cost of the property, proved to be far too financially straining for our organization.
As a long-standing nonprofit, deeply rooted in Jamaica Plain, we understand the concerns expressed by members of our community and have worked to address those within the top finalists among the bidders, acknowledging that there could be some community members that might not be satisfied with the options before us. Please know that our board and church committee have acted in good faith as active members of the community who care deeply about the future of our youth and families.
Given this, we are happy to report that after hiring Colliers/Cushman and Wakefield this past year we are ready to move three proposals to the next step in the sale of the building and inform you of our efforts to include community involvement during this process. The HSTF board and church committee have evaluated the proposals against the criteria we set forth in the 2019 Request for Proposals: 1) Benefit to Community, in the form of performance/event space, ideally for 250 people; 2) Financial benefit to HSTF, specifically capital to retire our debt on the property as well as for other long-term capital needs of the organization; 3) Accessible outdoor community space; 4) Naming consideration; and 5) Overall feasibility.
As part of this next phase, we have also developed a well-coordinated community engagement process to allow both virtual and in-person access to information and more importantly to solicit community feedback on all three proposals. The community engagement events will take place as listed below and will be accessible in both English and Spanish.
- Virtual Community Meeting (via Zoom), September 18, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
- In-Person Open House (at HSTF), September 18, 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
- Virtual Community Meeting (via Zoom), September 20, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Starting on September 18th, we will distribute a Community Feedback Survey to virtual meeting and open house attendees, and others who wish to provide feedback along the way. Those who are unable to attend the virtual meetings will be able to access a recording of the meeting on our website. We have also set up a dedicated phone line (617 318-6609) where community members can leave verbal feedback on the proposals.
Once all community feedback is analyzed and considered, our board of directors will be voting on the best possible option in October 2021. We invite you to join us in this critical process. All voices in our community matter to ensure the best outcome. We believe that by working together we can reach an outcome that best benefits our community.
Please note that we are still in COVID pandemic status, and we will be taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our community.